My family and I spent two weeks traipsing across the European continent from Bulgaria to France’s Côte Basque region on the Atlantic Coast. I set out to procure two things from our family vacation; one, I wanted to find a true French Tarragon plant for my garden and two, buy some french pink garlic for myself and my friend Sally. As the shopping habits of the French seem to have morphed from small markets and individual shops to the American-style shopping centers or hypermarchés, so I found my search for garlic and tarragon becoming more difficult. But, thanks to a guide book that I acquired a few years back, I knew that St. Jean de Luz held a bi-weekly farmers market, which due to the age of my book is now daily.
Like a kid waiting for Christmas, I woke up around 7 am, while my husband snored in the tent, lying beside me. I started tossing, turning and yawning hoping my subtle clues would rouse him, but he just grumbled and handed me my book and glasses from his side of the inflatable mattress. I got the hint.
Getting more use out of our WWOOF-ing tent!
I was worried that the information in my book wasn’t accurate, plus there was no time frame mentioned. Maybe it started early and would be done before lunch… I had no idea. Angel kindly informed me that this was France and he doubted it started before 10am, as the french go. He was right, but I was still anxious. I love wandering around markets and I go to any length to incorporate them in to my vacations, like in Fremantle, WA, Australia.
After struggling to find a parking spot, I used my “unagi”
to guide us to the correct location and there it was… a vision of delectable bounty. If I hadn’t been with my husband I could have spent time at every table sampling meats and cheese, absorbing the intoxications smells and visions, but I was on a time crunch to make the most of this experience and not waste a good beach day!
My garlic mission was accomplished. I found garlic and as an added bonus, some huge shallots, which are by far my favorite cooking ingredient, I only wish my garden had produced such beauties, but I did get enough to plant this fall and hopefully have a better harvest next Spring/Summer! I also, eventually found my tarragon plant, which was covered with rust spots. I was sure I could salvage it, but as luck would have it I left it at the campsite and only remembered that I left it when we passed Toulouse on our return to Bulgaria. My husband suggested going back, but I knew it just wasn’t meant to be…
Les Halles at St. Jean de Luz is a huge and wonderful market. If you are in the area worth checking out. For more information on the market (in French) please click here.
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