To Market to Market to buy a fat pig...

Off to market to buy free range pork for curing our Christmas ham.


12/9/20223 min read

The problem with living in a foreign country is that sometimes one can be misunderstood. After a telephone conversation with a farmer up in the wilds of Avéyron earlier that week , we set off to Lodève market last Saturday to find his stall, fully expecting to pick up a large leg of free range pork. This was to be transformed into a Christmas ham. Alas, although we found his market stall full of packages of meat; fromages crues; guineafowl and chickens all cleanly plucked with their heads tucked in neatly by their sides, there wasn't a larger joint of meat in sight. Clearly we had made a mistake. After a long conversation with the stallholder, face to face this time, he called his brother at the farm and it was agreed that we could pick up the aforesaid joint of pork at Millau the following Thursday.And so yesterday saw us heading over the 'Pas de l'Escalette' which marks the boundary between the coastal plains of the Mediterranean and The Massif Central.

Friday is market day in Millau when the streets fill up with stalls, but although this was only Thursday we headed for Les Halles where an indoor market is held daily. There we found Matthieu , whom we had met at Lodeve market, and our transaction was completed.Until yesterday we had never explored Millau , but I can tell you it is a very fine town. Its setting in the 'Gorges du Tarn' is amazing. High limestone cliffs rise steeply above it , while the town nestles cosily in the valley below. Of course we have passed through many times on car journeys to and from the U.K. You could count on an extra twenty or minutes or so just winding down the steep approach from the plateau above, and then winding up the road from the other side. But Halleluliah! Then came the famous viaduct , and now one can whip across from on side of the gorge to the other within minutes, while sleepy Millau can rest in peace down below.The slow crawl out of MillauWe first learned of Millau years before we came to live here, as controversy raged over the desirability of this bridge. Many locals objected to the likely despoilation of such an outstanding area of natural beauty. But now that it has been built, it would seem that all criticism has fallen away, and French people are rightly proud of this elegant and ambitious structure. Begun in December 2001 , just as we were starting our life in France, we watched it grow with pride, pointing out to French acquaintances that it had been designed by Sir Norman Foster, a British architect. Ah yes, came the rejoinder, but the chief engineer is French. Taking little over three years to construct, I am sure you will agree that it is a thing of beauty. Le viaduc de MillauMillau too is a beautiful calm town. We walked towards 'Les Halles' through quiet pedestrianised streets. Autumn has come late this year, and the plane trees were still clothed in autumn colour, yet our path was carpeted with large brown and yellow leaves. As we were returning to the car, one large pig's trotter sticking rather inelegantly out of our large and heavy sack, we stopped to rest and admire the beautiful shops around us, placing the sack at our feet. A squeal of alarm alerted us to the fact that a dog had fallen upon our projected Christmas lunch with some delight, and was being unceremoniously dragged away by its owner. We laughed together. Millau is indeed a relaxed and friendly place which is happy to let the traffic between the North and South of France pass it by overhead. "Would you like help in carrying that?" a young lady asked us as we descended in the lift towards the underground car park. Yes, Millau is indeed a very friendly place.

....To market to market to buy a fat hog....Home again, home again, joggety jog!

gray bridge during daytime
gray bridge during daytime