This market, along the banks of the River Saône, is the most beautiful market I have ever seen. A quintessentially French Sunday market; the sky a brilliant blue, the red and blue umbrellas of the stalls forming a canopy under the avenue of plane trees.
Elle and I wandered through; I was trying to take it all in. It was crowded, it was noisy. The smell of fresh strawberries, of fresh fish, of coffee, of cheese all blending together. It was wonderful.
The sellers shouting at each other, at us, like at a cattle market, “Mesdames, Messieurs, oranges-kiwis-bananes, venez, venez.” All in one breath and often with thick foreign accents.
I saw artichokes nearly the size of my head and leeks nearly as wide as my arm. The root ends of green and white asparagus were being broken off with a resounding “snap.” Strawberries sat in little wooden wicker tubs, as if you had picked them yourself. All the fruits and vegetables were so delicately arranged in aluminum pans: red, yellow and green peppers, their rounded surfaces almost glinting in the sun; mangoes, cut in half and arching their backs, showing off their hedge-hogged flesh.
We passed by the “resto” part of the market. Families were out for Sunday lunch, their tables weighed down by plates of iced oysters from the fish stall next door and chilled white wine from the wine stall opposite. Apart from large cauldrons of vin chaud at Christmas time, I have never seen wine being sold at a market before. But what a fantastic way to buy it-immediate access to the vineyard, or at the very least, the representative label.
The market was of significant size. The stalls continued along the river: rotisserie chickens, flowers, cheese, bread, condiments, butchers. A beautiful hippie in a long floaty skirt played accordion music.
Markets such as these is what I associate with France. It may be idealistic, I may have my head in the sand, but even after seven months of living in France that association and love of markets remains strong.
After the market, Elle and I wound our way up through a spring green park to the Basilica on top of the hill. The last time I visited the Basilica it was freezing cold and foggy…
We had been to visit Sophie’s family in Yssingeaux the day before (and to drop off my two suitcases!) and they very kindly gave me three quarters of a brioche praliné. I nibbled on my brioche while I looked over Lyon, enjoying the heat of the sun. I could vaguely make out the path of the incredible market we had just walked.
Days like that make me wonder why would I ever leave?