Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - Sarlat Market and Monpazier

We need groceries. (How can it be that we always need groceries?) Sarlat has a market. Pat and Chuck, Ron and Chris and Christie need to see Sarlat, and Pat and Chuck need to buy a train ticket to Paris.  I'm focused on the marketing list and didn't even think to bring a camera. Luckily Chuck had his and took some photos at Sarlat which he has shared here.

Some observations:
Wow! The market is really crowded. You can hardly move. And not many of them are shopping. Lots of  Dutch are appearing now.
Sarlat market

The parking lot is full, but we do manage to find places for two. But you have to be very skinny to get in or out of the car as there are trees - rather large trees - growing between many of the parking spaces which narrows the parking space considerably from its already inadequate width.

We do a bit of touring and shopping blended together, stopping first at the abbey squares and the church. The market seems almost as large as the Saturday one with booths on most of the pedestrian streets in the main squares of the town.
Sunlight plays on the wall of this abbey church side chapel

There is a permanent indoor market, open every day till 1 pm, inside the old parish church
Built by the city consuls as a bit of a snub to the abbey
Now a public building, these giant doors were installed as a piece of art in recent years
The writing says: "Architecture is a mixture of  nostalgia and extreme anticipation"  (Jean Baudrillard)
 Since we have 2 cars, Pat, Chuck, and I stop at the Sarlat train station to try to purchase their tickets to Paris. Try is the operative word here. There is an automatic ticket machine, but I don't want to risk getting tickets for them using it as they have to take a couple of different trains. And of course it's lunch time so there is no agent on duty.  Sigh. Oh, well, we'll have to stop in Bordeaux on Sunday when we take Christie back.

Home for a lovely picnic lunch in our own garden. After lunch we head off to Monpazier.

For a period of about 150 years (1222-1372), French nobility built walled and gated towns within which were laid out streets in a grid pattern with a market place in the center. The church is no longer the center of town, but business and industry has taken over. The purpose of building these bastides was to protect and grow the population which had so diminished in the Albigensian crusade (when the Catholics killed off all the Cathars whom they believed to be heretics).  Taxing the developing commerce provided income to the landowner, replacing tithes on farm production. The nobles made money by bringing markets (for which they charged vendors) to the town and by charging taxes on roads and bridges used around the towns.

Christie ready to enter Monpazier with its church and market square behind

Monpazier's market square taken from under the covered part of the market square

To attract people to these towns, special privileges were given in charters to the people. These included such things as land, self-government, and no taxes. Families moving to towns were then "free men" rather than serfs of the landowner.  More than 600 of these towns were built in this short 150 year period, of which about 150 still remain in some sort of recognizable form.

Monpazier is one of the best examples of these bastides. It is still walled, gated, and still possesses its arcaded houses surrounding a market square with its pavillion still intact. It's a wonderful city to walk around in. And while we see lots of Dutch license plates in the parking lot, it's amazingly quiet and peaceful on this beautiful sunny day.

Chuck standing in front of the arcaded houses at the corner.
Notice how the buildings "lean" into each other. Age or intention?
Exiting between these houses leads down one of the main streets toward the town gate by which we entered
The market square is the center of the city and is still surrounded by arcaded houses and its wooden covered market.  The arcades shelter shops on the lower level with families living on the upper stories.

Tourist season is starting and we are seeing more stores open now.
A feature of  a bastide is the setback of  shops protected by the arcaded walkway.
Houses were built above these arcades and shops by wealthy families

The floor above the arcade is insulated by "wattle and daub"
mud mixed with horse hair and stuffed between the floor supports.

The market square still has its system for weighing grain.
 Grain would be poured into the size container you wanted to purchase, then tipped forward and a slot opened on the bottom
to empty the grain from the "scale" into a sack.
Christie standing next to the largest of the grain buckets.

Radiating from the 4 corners of the market are the main thoroughfares of the city which lead to the gated entrances.

The church is located on one of these thoroughfares just adjacent to the market square.
Statue of an unhappy monk outside the church. Not sure what's making him unhappy

This plaque inside elebrates the 700th anniversary of the church in 1992 when the Pope was Jean-Paul II
the bishop was Gaston Poulain, the priest was J Trougnac and the mayor was J Marie Delmon.

A Romanesque church modified in later centuries
The grid pattern provides glimpses down small alleys.

Monpazier alleyway

Pat in front of alleyway. Tunnel goes through the ground floor of the house.

Walking the rampart road that follows the town walls provides views to the surrounding valley.

Chris and Ron have a friend who runs a B&B (bed and breakfast) in Monpazier, so I walk with them to see if she is home. Unfortunately, she isn't, so we continue exploring the town.

Bed and breakfast of Chris' friend along the ramparts of the city.
It must have a beautiful view across the valley.

Chris told me what these were, but I forgot. Chris?

Chris and purple iris. The yellow are pretty too.
We are seeing iris everywhere now.
And poppies are popping now too.

This lovely "atelier" redoes old furniture (like the chairs hanging outside the shop.
Beautiful workmanship, beautiful fabrics, lovely old chairs and sofas to be redone.

Self-explanatory sign

Along the rampart road, there's a special spot for dogs to do their business. How thoughtful
We stop back at the market square for a coffee while the others explore the town with a map from the tourist office.

Café where we had coffee while awaiting the explorers.

Pat and Chuck at the top of the Porte du Paradis entrance

Christie and Dave at the Porte du Paradis along the city walls.
On the way to and from Monpazier, we drive beautiful countryside of small farms, grazing cows and horses. 

Dave's car had to stop while these cows crossed the road.
We see farm families harvesting Perigordine strawberries which are shaded, 3 rows at a time, by half circles of plastic sheeting tall enough for workers to maneuver in. The berries produced in this area are known by their small size and their wonderful sweetness.

We drive through Belvès on our way home and Chuck gets a wonderful photo just before we enter the city.

Belvès from the ridge
Another s**tty day in paradise.  Just ask Dave.

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