Grenade was founded as a bastide in 1290 and became one of the most important Cistercian abbeys in the South of France under Pierre Alafarici et Eustache de Beaumarchais. The name ‘Bastide” meaning new settlement, and are often named after foreign towns, as in ‘Grenade’ – Granada in Spain (Eustache de Beaumarchais was also commander of Granada in Spain) or Cologne near Toulouse. 

The market hall is magnificent, made of timber with a timber clock tower, resting on 36 octagonal brick pillars, built in the 13th century to become the centre of the village, with all roads leading to it.

A stone’s throw from the market hall is the church of L’Assomption de Notre Dame, building started in 1290 of the traditional pink brick of the region and was finished 86 years later. The church is almost a smaller copy of St Sernin in Toulouse. 

The market takes place on Saturday mornings and is not only a buzzing hive of activity but has an incredibly rural feeling, given its proximity to the city of Toulouse – it feels like we are in a small country village lost somewhere in the rolling hills.

I must admit that I am a huge fan of French markets and I never tire of visiting a market and buying fresh foods – Grenade does not let anyone down in this department – it is quite simply fantastic.

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The colours, the smells and the setting are idyllic – we are well and truly in a fruit and vegetable growing region!

Think you know your tomatoes – think again! I think it would be difficult to ask for a kilo of tomatoes without telling the seller which variety you would like to buy.

A courgette is a courgette, is a courgette, right? Err no, there are varieties that I have neither seen nor heard of before – and I really got the idea that they were not just for novelty effect – one of the sellers walked me through the different varieties – if you want to sauté them, it’s this variety, in a ratatouille, it’s this one, for a gratin this one etc. WOW!

Well yes, WOW! is an expression that just rolls of the tongue here – it really is mind-blowing – the freshness and the people are so friendly and helpful.

Peppers are red, green and yellow right! Err no, what about white, violet, bulls-horn and flat?

There were fresh almonds, herbs, fruits, vegetable, breads, sausages – ah yes, the celebrated Toulouse sausage! Pâtés, saucissons, hams, eggs, poultry – both alive and ready to cook, olives, paëllas, olive oils, vinegars, wines, freshly ground coffee, flowers and plants for the garden, gâteaux, cakes, cheeses – just like any French market but on steroids – as a market and food fan, I was in my element.

The region is noted for growing peaches, nectarines, apricots, melons, apples, plums and almonds so not only is the produce fresh and of excellent quality, but it has probably travelled no more than about 10 kms!

There was even a man making osier baskets which were not only superb but reasonably priced too Рin fact we saw him make two while we drank a coffee or two in the caf̩ near where he was working Рwhat a craftsman he was.

If you are ever near Toulouse on a Saturday morning – I would highly recommend this superb market – there are also cafés around the market square where you can just watch the world go by, drink in the sights and smells of the market – was it me, or was everybody smiling ….. there is certainly every reason to.


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