Here's a list of other related guides that you may wish to discover.Garonne | Lot | Tarn
|In the South West there are many markets which vary from night markets in the summer to farmers markets or just plain Bric & Brac markets. The night markets are mainly in July and August in many of the local villages. Food is eaten on long trestle tables after being bought from one of the many food stalls. Drinking, eating and dancing go on until midnight and they are great fun.
Montcuq. On Sundays, the town has a magnificent market attracting local producers from all over the region. They gather in the Town Square and side streets setting up their stalls and offering a variety of products from fresh vegetables and fruit, meat and fresh fish, to clothing, kitchen utensils and fabric.
Not far from Montcuq is the hilltop medieval village of Lauzerte. A small Wednesday market selling local produce and why not follow on with lunch at the Hotel du Quercy. Good food and a nice view over the countryside at the back.
Cahors: A good time to visit this masterpiece is on market day which takes place in front of the cathedral every Saturday and Wednesday. It is one of the liveliest, most colourful markets in France. During the summer months you’ll find stalls laden with golden peaches, oversized peppers, lettuces, herbs, flowers, garlic, pates and every kind of cheese. Local ducks and geese are also available.
Toulouse: The daily market that runs along the boulevard adjacent to the Capitole is perfect for fresh fruit and vegetables but if you want something posher and very famous then go to Victor Hugo which is near the Capitole in Rue Victor Hugo. It’s a covered market and in the main hall there are chic stalls selling seafood, meat, fruit & vegetables, flowers and not forgetting foie gras that is so fabulous in this region. You can sip champagne which is sold by the glass as you gaze upon your purchases. At the top of the market is a restaurant where all food served is from the market below.
Castelnaudary is mainly known for its famous 'peasant' dish of beans and various meats known as Cassoulet. The origin of cassoulet dates back to medieval times and the legend places the birth of cassoulet during the Hundred Years War, during the siege of Castelnaudary by the English. Threatened by famine the people put together what they had to feed the soldiers of the city - bacon, pork, beans, sausages and meat which were put to simmer in a large bowl. Apparantley, invigorated by this meal, the soldiers chased the English away from Lauragais ! It can take two days or more to prepare Cassoulet and the traditional cooking vessel is an earthenware pot from Issel called a cassole for which the dish is named. The ingredients include haricot beans grown in Pamiers or Lavelanet, duck confit, garlic sausage, pork, Toulouse sausage and mutton. If it's done absolutely to tradition, apparently is must be cooked in a baker's oven fired with rushes from the Montange Noire. There are many restaurants that will offer this dish in Castelnaudary with all of them saying they are cooking the best and most authentic one!
Duck is the mainstay of this region served either as breast with a rich sauce or confit. Other delights are sanglier (wild boar), geese, game, Landes chickens, foie gras, lamb roasts and casseroles. There is also a wide range of fish, cured hams and sausages as well as a wide variety of cheeses such as Cantal, soft goat cheeses (cabécous) as well as a wide choice of all the famous French varieties. Followed of course by good fruit tarts made with the famous Agen prunes and local fruit such as plum and apple. Nothing would be complete however in this wonderful region than the abundance of local wines.
Place du Capitole. Day or night, there’s always something happening in this vast square which is in the centre of Toulouse. On two sides are shops and on one side are lots of restaurants and pavement cafes that are all undercover. You can have anything from a grande café crème to oysters and the atmosphere is always “buzzing” whether its winter or summer
Armagnac from the Gers must be tried. Visit one of the many Chateau that open their doors to see Armagnac in the making.
WINE: . From Buzet, Bordeaux, Cahors (It was the Romans who first marched through Cahors and planted the first vineyards that have been made so famous as the Black Wine.), Duras, Bergerac and Madrian all these are the most popular wines. Visit the local vineyards for wine tasting before you buy a case or even cheaper a cubi container which holds 5 litres. Not forgetting the Armagnac brandies produced between Auch & Condom.
Toulouse is like a mini Paris for shopping with an abundance of shops from designer labels to high street brands. The main street has the famous Galeries Lafayette department store but venture down the side streets to find some fabulous shoe shops, florists, gift shops and some fabric and furnishing shops.