France is currently awash with Christmas markets – Marchés de Noël. Nearly every village and town has theirs over a day or weekend in their Salle Polyvalente while the cities have month-long ones spread over a square or several streets. The north of France is most famous for its markets, but the rest of the country doesn’t do so badly.
A couple of years ago I went to Bordeaux’s Marché de Noël with Caiti - about three times I think over the few days I spent visiting her. There were an awful lot of food and drink stores interspersed with mainly craft and stalls, as well as a few tat stalls, Santa’s grotto and a collection of birds and animals.
That same equation holds at this year’s fair in Limoges. Chris, Ros and I went down to visit Benj there a couple of days after his birthday and take his (slightly late) present down. I was very taken by the Silkies pecking through the straw in the animal enclosure and the collection of chicks in a heated tank in one wall. Very original! It did remind me, though, that I’d left some very small vulnerable turkey chicks behind, as well as all the other much bigger less vulnerable but more walkabout-prone animals. It’s rare that we all leave the farm at the same time, and it’s never without a niggle of worry. Animals are such a tie. At least with kids you can load them up and take them with you! Not so with an assortment of llamas, alpacas, goats, pigs, sheep and poultry!
It was rather a shame we’d just fuelled up at Quick before visiting as the various beers and wines and ciders and teas and hot chocolates and sweet and savoury treats couldn’t tempt us. We browsed the other stalls and watched people ice-skating on one rink and cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing on another. We didn’t join in as we’d walked several kilometres in from Benj’s flat, and had the return to trip to make, plus there were longish queues for each. However, the skiing did look rather fun.
We visited that last Saturday and the next day was the turn of the Nouzerines Christmas market. This is always enjoyable and has some lovely stalls. The only one I don’t spend time at is the Jars of Duck stall! Rors got most of his Christmas shopping done and I topped up with some very nice bits and pieces that I can’t tell you about as it will spoil certain people’s surprises!
These events must take a lot of organizing, even the small village affairs, and rely on the enthusiastic support of small traders and a willing public. I’m so glad that people put the effort in since the results are wonderful. The festive season is definitely not as frantic and commercial as it is in England and Ireland, in fact the lights in Boussac seem to have been very late being turned on this year, but these markets really help to make it feel a lot like Christmas.