Thursday, October 22, 2009

villefranche market

Nun jam

Multicoloured market in a medieval square

Fresh Farm produce

Streets of Najac and distant tower

Najac houses almost balanced on their hill

A Wednesday outing to celebrate the tower roof being finished. Well, not really finished, but watertight for the first time in about 30 years. All the old slate tiles have to be regraded, shaped and replaced, but that is a job for the lucky helpers next year.

Our day out started with a drive to Villefranche, a historical old town that was constructed by a french king in order to close down another local town that was not towing the line. Instead of a battle, he simply set up a town and let it be known that there were no rents to be paid for houses, and minimal taxes on goods produced. The merchants of the day soon moved the twenty kilometers or so to their new quarters and the town of Najac fell into a quick demise. It was not the only time that the townsfolk made the wrong decision, they chose the Cathar religion rather than catholicism when sides had to be taken and later backed the king during the run up to the revolution.

We bought croissants and pastries from one street market and went to a bar for breakfast. They were quite happy to serve us tea and coffee whilst we ate our own food and watched the world go by.

The main fruit and veg area is held in the old square in front of the cathedral. Big farms, little farms, nuns selling jam and cakes, old guys with cages of birds, farmers with saussicon, cheeses, nuts, all in glorious technicolour, techni-taste and techni-smell, wonderful. Nicholas and Heath took a break whilst I did my tourist photo thing and picked up a few heirloom tomatoes to increase the seed stock for next year.

On to Najac for a wander round the old town, it probably hasn’t been much developed since Villefranche was invented, so rather picturesque and restored now that it is on the tourist trail. Not particularly fortified but well protected on its narrow ledge bounded by the river. Small cobbled streets and tall buildings, a grand cathedral and even grander tower all almost piled on top of each other to escape falling down the steep sides of the valley. We had a good look round, got thrown out of the cathedral because the priest wanted to go for lunch, 12 to 2.30 just like everywhere else. Eyed up a few old ruins in need of a few thousand euros and a bit of tlc before finding a restaurant to have lunch ourselves. A good soup, toulouse sausage and saute potatoes and a superb creme brulee all washed down with a local drop of rose.

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