I have to admit, I am a bit of a fan of French markets.
Could it be something to do with the fact that I also love food and wine?
I guess there is something there … but seeing the beautiful fresh vegetables, no matter what the season, breads and pÃ¢tisserie, charcuterie and preserves is really a treat for the eyes, and later for the tastebuds.
The market in Castelnaudary is held every Monday morning and is especially known in the region for the “Frip” or Friperie, which are the stalls of second-hand, end of stock or factory closure clothes.
Now this isn’t really what I go to a market for, but there are lots of others who do.
Castelnaudary is one of those places that is so often overlooked.
For one thing it is on the road to the beautiful city of Carcassonne, on the road to the Mediterranean (about an hour away) and about 50km from Toulouse.
The town doesn’t look that great when you drive through, but it holds many secrets that are just waiting to be discovered, such as Le Grand Bassin, l’Ã©cluse de Saint Roche, on the Canal du Midi and the old town including le Moulin de Cugarel with it’s sweeping views across the Lauragais and La Montagne Noire – for more information, see our post on Castelnaudary.
The market is fairly big for such a small town, but if you are here in summer – especially in July and August, it is better to get there early before it gets too hot to meander around the stalls.
Most of the market is held under the shady platain trees, which offer a welcoming shade from the hot, mid-morning sun – there some cafÃ©s on the edges of the market where you can get a good coffee or a cooling drink.
If you are here for the morning, then you must try the local speciality, Cassoulet – even if when the mercury starts rising, you don’t really feel like it – at least you can say that you have had a Cassoulet in the World capital of Cassoulet!
Do have a look around in the old town if you have the energy.
If you don’t feel up to a Cassoulet, then carry on down the avenue, with the Post Office on your left for about 100 meters and you will arrive at The Canal du Midi – here you can take a snack, a drink, or lunch on one o the boats moored on the quayside.
Once you are refreshed, have a look at the Grand Bassin, with it’s ruined windmills, evidence if you needed it, of the strong wind, the vent d’autan that blows regularly in the area.
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There are some lovely walks along the Canal du Midi, which is a UNESCO, World Heritage site, you can go south towards the Mediterranean or North towards The Atlantic, whichever way you choose, there are great footpaths to enjoy the scenery along the way.