Cathédrale Saint Alain de Lavaur
If you were French, you will usually love your baguette, croissant and your local markets. I had some baguette on our first evening in France and woke up the next morning with a craving for croissant and pain au chocolat. SIL dangled a visit to the market in the neighbouring town of Lavaur and with it came my hope of grabbing a good croissant from a bakery in town.
Market day in Lavaur was quite an event as nothing
else exciting usually happens in these parts. The streets were full of people and vehicles and it was a miracle that we found a parking space as quickly as we did. We were greeted by...live poultry stalls. People there still buy their poultry and rabbits live! You choose your feathered fowl and the seller packs them up in a cardboard box, makes a few slits in it to let in air and you're set. Yet other buyers carry their live purchases by the feet. Dizzy chickens, I imagine.
Where are you bringing me to?
Buy and go
Live ducks in the market
The small market was amazing. I've been twice to the one that takes place on Monday mornings in Modena. And I've not returned since. It was very big - but they weren't selling anything particularly interesting and much of the stuff looked cheap without being cheap. The one in Lavaur had vegetable stalls with the most beautiful pink garlic (ail rose de Toulouse), delicate French beans, small fragrant French melons...the butchers had marvelous cuts of beef, veal, lamb and pork, merguez and other sausages, duck (!!!) and foie gras. And bread - wow, what a choice...There were also exotic cooked food stalls, for the French while they love their own cuisine also enjoy trying that of other communities.
We bought foie gras entier mi-cuit and fresh magret de canard from a stall in the market and they tasted really good - rich taste, great texture, real food. Hub said that unless you've tasted what we had, you'll never know the difference between average factory-bred and top-quality farm-raised duck. Since food like duck and duck liver are getting more democratic i.e. accessible to everybody, its quality has suffered and it is getting more difficult to find the really good stuff in the mass offering.
A park in Lavaur
SIL brought us on a quick tour of the old town of Lavaur and it was small but pretty, with lovely old buildings, interesting new architecture and a beautiful park with very old trees and a lovely view of the surrounding forests. We bought croissants and other pastries (including a mille-feuille) from a bakery in the main street and they were so good! I have missed French pastries and bread, 5 years away from the Hexagone now seem like a lifetime...
While travelling in the region of Toulouse and Dordogne, I would see "Cathares" being mentioned in different sites. In Lavaur, the story goes that its castle was probably the last refuge for the Cathar heretics of Lavaur during the bloody siege by Simon de Montfort and his crusaders in May 1211 : dame Guiraude de Laurac, co-seigneuresse of Lavaur was thrown alive into a well and 400 Cathares burnt alive. A massacre commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church.