Revel, is a small town in the Haute Garonne department of the region Midi Pyrenees, nestling at the foot of the Montagne Noire where the departments of The Tarn and The Aude meet on The Lauragais plain about 50 kilometers from Toulouse.
Revel was created as a bastide in 1342 by the King, Philippe VI de Valois on the ancient Roman trade route, Via Tolosane under the original name of “La Bastide de Lavaur”, becoming a fortified garison of the Huguenots in the 16th century, which was dismantled in 1629 after the signing of “La Paix D’AlÃ¨s”.
Revel is a great place for a base for exploring the Montagne Noire, The Lauragais and some very nearby places of beauty and interest, including The lake at St FÃ©rreol, Durfort – the village of copper and crafts,St FÃ©lix de Lauragais and The Abbey school of SorrÃ¨ze – to name but a few excellent places to visit.
Almost everything in Revel circulates around the majestic timbered medieval market hall, which dates from the 14th century, surmounted by a magnificent bell tower, which was used as a watchtower in the past.
Every Saturday there is a market in and around the hall, which is classified among the 100 most beautiful markets in France, with special markets on 1st May (The flower market) and at Christmas.
For some it will be the smells, the food, the colour, the locals, the animals – well it’s all here at Revel market – it really is a panachÃ© of colours, smells and characters which makes for a fantastic sight for tourists and locals alike.
There are stalls of farm-made cheeses from the mountains and from the Aubrac region of Auvergne, with the famous Aligot, made in front of your eyes. Aligot is a mixture of potato and fresh Tome cheese, mixed to an smooth consistency – not strictly from the region but from the neighbouring region.
There are old men and women selling the produce of their farms – chickens, ducks, geese, eggs, vegetables, fruit and milk – listen to the rolling ‘R’ of the region, which denotes the real locals.
Stalls selling air-dried hams, sausage and saucisson – the smell is truly mouthwatering and most of the produce is locally made.
One of the most striking sites if the colour and the freshness of the fruits and vegetables – which form a multi-coloured backdrop to the shady columns on the covered walkways that form the outer perimeters of the market.
The specialities in the region which are difficult to resist:
- Oreilletes – light puffy sweet pastries flavoured with orange blossom or aniseed.
- Luques – the locally grown ‘new season’ olives, with a crisp fresh bite – just begging to be accompanied by a glass of pastis or rosÃ©.
- Tongue Black Pudding – a black pudding made with ox tongue
- CroÃ»stade – another light, crips, sweet pastry filled with apples, prunes or lemon
- Le Millas – a sort of pancake which replaced the bread many years ago, served either savoury of sweet, flavoured with rum, lemon, aniseed, ornage or just with sugar – a real peasant’s dish.
- La padÃ©nado de cocagne – a sort of paella with duck or goose hearts, duck or goose gizzards and saffron
- Anything based on pork, from the Montagne Noire – especially the famous Sausage, “Saucisse de Toulouse”, hams, saucissons and pÃ¢tÃ©s
- Foie gras
- Goats cheeses from St FÃ©lix Lauragais and cow’s milk cheeses from the Montagne Noire and The Pyrenees.
- Locally made jams and preserves
- Pickled garlic (great for an aperitif)
There is very little wine produced in the region, since most of the output from agriculture has been dedicated to cereals since the destruction of the majority of vines in France around 1885 by the Phylloxia disease. Vines were then pulled up, burnt and the earth then tilled for cereals.
There are wines available in the market from CabardÃ¨s, just over the Montagne Noire, The CorbiÃ¨res and Fronton, near Toulouse.
Have a good look and taste what is on offer – the market stall-holders are used to this, then have a coffee in one of the three cafÃ©s in the market square and just soak up the magical spectacle of a busy French market – Delicious!
Oh, and don’t just look at the people – lift your eyes and look at the buildings surrounding the market square – they’re not bad either.
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