Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday morning market.

‘The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.’
Gilbert K Chesterton.

We’ve been to many French markets but Brest is the biggest one we’ve seen. On a Sunday morning it stretches across the centre of the city. The pitches line the sides of the roads and march their way around the square.

The wriggling body of people squirms its way along the market, the long line broken only where the tram line crosses. The ringing from the tall Vauban bell tower calls the faithful to mass, the sound mingling with the noise of the crowds.

It feels as though there is a general bonhomie, helped by a brief appearance of the sun after all the wind and rain.
‘Bonjour, bonjour.’ Groups gather, kissing on both cheeks and chatting animatedly.

There are stalls with bread sold by the weight, bowls of spices with tiny, long handled spoons which the vender uses to deftly scoop up tiny portions from behind the stand. Some sellers have only a single table and chair displaying a few wine bottles or pots of honey, others are many tables long with several people working to serve the lines.

Long queues reach from the most popular bread and cheese sellers, customers are handed samples to incite them to buy more and keep them happy whilst they’re waiting. The patter of traders ‘You speak English? We love tourists, I give you extra,’ fills the roads making us grin.

The seafood stalls have crabs with waving legs and bigorneu clambering slowly up the sides of the baskets as if trying to get back to the water. The fruit and vegetable stalls are bright with citrus, reds and greens. Fruits are cut open to display the tempting flesh, boasting of juiciness and flavour.

We wander round the market, familiar now with our own favourites.
‘Do we need…’ or ‘…can we go to the normal sausage man?’ the children ask as they deftly make their way through the crowds, stopping every now and then to stroke a dog waiting patiently in a queue with it’s owner.

The sights of cakes and pastries jostle alongside shoes and handbags. Heady aromas fill the air, giant skillets of paella, roasting chickens dripping fat, sweet chestnuts and jacket potatoes.

With two long baguettes, a bag of assorted saucisson and images of the jostling, colourfulness of the market we head home with our purchases, feeling content.

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