Thursday, 3 April 2014

Market day

Like most French towns, Pouancé hosts a weekly market.  It is in Pouancé that we buy most of our food when in France as the supermarket there - just the one - and the boulangeries (two) are the nearest to the small village on the edge of which you will find our cottage.  So, market day.  Market day in Pouancé is Thursday and the main drag is closed to vehicles for about half of its length - and about half of that traffic-free section is lined on either side of the road by vans and stalls.  This is a small market compared to those in such metropolises as Segré and Châteaubriant.  There are, usually, two stalls selling flowers and plants, one or two selling ladies' clothing (especially those all-enveloping aprons so beloved by the local yokels), one or two greengrocers, a fishmonger and a butcher, who also sells charcuterie.  Oh, and a sewing machine vendor.  Sewing machines seem still to be commonplace in France, although I have never seen anybody even browsing the machines, replacement parts, threads, zips and other bits and pieces on offer.

So last Thursday I was in town despite the rain, looking to purchase our lunch at the butcher's stall.  In particular, two small leek tartlets, or quiches au poireau as the French would have it.  This is always the most popular stall in the market and last Thursday was no exception so I was in a queue of people, each of whom seemed to be intent on stocking up for a week.  For several families.  It was as I was waiting - learning the French for a variety of cuts of meat, all of which I have since forgotten - that a gaggle of schoolchildren aged about 5 came past, softly singing a song whose words I was unable to discern.  Each child, and every accompanying teacher, was in fancy dress.  There was a troop of clowns, the circus band and a variety of other performers, and the street was lined by mothers more excited than the children, who all seemed to be taking matters very calmly.  They walked down the street to the Place de la République, did a circuit of the square, and then came back up the hill and off to goodness knows where.  I never did manage to ascertain just what the occasion was, or even if there was an occasion at all.

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