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Day Trips to area
Markets and Brocante
Explore Languedoc's village markets and brocante shops
 
 

Most towns and cities hold fruit and Vegetable markets in a public square at least one morning per week. Our favorites are in Mirepoix on Monday, Olonzac on Tuesday, Lezignan Corbières on Wednesday, right here in Caunes on Thursday, Carcassonne (Place Carnot) on Saturday and Limoux on Sunday. Dozens of vendors offer whatever is in season, together with fresh flowers, spices, baked goods, nuts and olives, huge varieties of sausages and cheeses, wine, and occasional prepared foods. The same vendors often appear at multiple markets, and since everybody comes to shop week after week, the markets offer community social occasions as well as shopping opportunities. A picnic is a fine follow-up to the market - try market paella in the little park just a block from the main market street in Lezignan, or fresh bread and local cheeses and sausages down by the river in either Mirepoix or Limoux.

Say you've forgotten a key outfit for your trip, or as happened to one of our friends recently, the airlines shipped your bags to Caracas instead of Toulouse. You can buy a new wardrobe at any number of tony boutiques, or you can do like the locals do and head for the household goods market in your nearest town. They are often on the outskirts of the fruit and vegetable markets; in Carcassonne, the Saturday-morning "stuff market" is under the long row of plane trees just west of the Jacobins gate. In addition to all manner of cheap housewares and odds and ends from North Africa, you'll often find tables spread with last-year's styles for less than a tenth the price at any store. Need some new linen slacks or a frilly pleated party dress for just 5 €? See you at the market!

Sunday vide grenier (empty attic) markets are a Languedoc tradition, with half a dozen villages staging events on any given weekend from early spring to late fall. People show up from miles around to hawk whatever they've got, from their kid's Barbie dolls to great-grandmother's heirloom china. You never know what you'll find or who you might meet. We have French friends who circulate to the area vides every weekend, and have to admit to being addicts ourselves. How else would you furnish a house?

Villages and small towns seem to stage better vide greniers - with more interesting merchandise and much lower prices - than larger towns or cities. Some of our favorites are the periodic vide greniers in Villalier Minervois, Barbaira, and La Livinière.

Brocantes are a somewhat more upscale, generally indoor alternatives to the vide greniers, offering used stuff that the owner has collected - sometimes it seems over several generations - at prices that vary from bargains to outrageous. Many seem to be open only at the owner's whim, but late afternoons (after 4) are often a good bet.

Trocs are like brocantes, but work on consignment. Either are likely to have far better prices than antiquité shops, which deal only in items over 100 years old and are often very expensive.


 
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