The last couple of days have been a bit of a whirl, which culminated on Friday in me driving across to the stunning Gorges du Tarn
The drive across is lovely, following the main road through the centre of Avignon, on to Uzès then across to the old mining town of Alès, clearly very proud of its industrial heritage, with some of the best decorated roundabouts I’ve seen!
From here the road winds and climbs up through the Cevennes towards Mende, before you turn & drive along towards the Gorges. It’s a stunning 4 hour drive, but not a relaxing one so I had planned to break the trip back by stopping at the pretty riverside town of Sommières, which happens to host one of my favourite Brocantes on a Saturday, when the town’s streets also fill with the weekly general market.
So after unloading my son & a car full of ‘stuff’, having a quick cup of tea & saying our goodbyes, I headed back to Sommières, finally arriving just after 8 in a hot, crumpled little heap after over 6 hours in the car. To say I was starving doesn’t even come close, so I threw on another frock (what would I do without French market stall dresses) grabbed my bag & headed off into town to find supper and a much-needed glass of wine.
There’s a nice choice of places to eat, but whereas normally I would take my time to look at menus and choose where to sit – I just headed for the busiest, found a table and crumpled into the seat. Happily I had clearly chosen well and my meal was delightful, set to the background of burbling voices and the screaming of Swifts doing circuits above us.
Once I had finished (no longer feeling so hungry that I could eat a ‘mouldy pig backwards’) I took the time to amble back through the cobbled streets of the old town….
along the river…..
and back to the hotel for a much needed good night’s sleep.
Saturday dawned hot, clearly the ‘canicule’ hadn’t broken and so I was out early and sitting in the main square having breakfast by the time the clock struck 8.
The same time last year I was in a state of shock after waking to see the Brexit result and since then to be honest none of my worries have been alleviated at all. In fact the last 12 bizarre months have made me wonder even more about what path we are actually being dragged down and where it may end up. On so many levels I worry that common sense & objectivity has gone out of the window.
Last year I headed to the wonderful Lourmarin market – just to check the world was still turning, as it felt to me as if it had slipped on its axis. Yesterday I found myself at Sommières, having breakfast in the market, listening to French, German and Italian voices on the tables around me and feeling every part the European I want to remain! I must admit I felt rather sad that future generations may not have the opportunity to feel the same.
After coffee I wandered into the market, into the square where I’d eaten the night before, now filled with stalls finishing setting up for the day ahead.
But my main aim was to get to the Brocante market, which fills the plane-tree shaded car park set just above the river. There is something about this market that never disappoints me.
The setting is lovely and there’s a wonderfully eclectic mix of stalls, offering just about anything I could fancy & I always find myself browsing for a good couple of hours (more if it’s one of the big events – note to self clear the diary for 16th July if at all possible!)
It should go without saying that I didn’t come away empty handed; finding space in my bag for a few pieces that were just too good to miss!
I really couldn’t justify buying any of the old bikes that were there, but did manage to carry away a handful of Tour de France magazines from the 1950s & 60s ……
Sommières also has some lovely shops offering locally made products, such as these bright ceramic poppies from ‘Made in Sommières’ amongst many others.
I couldn’t stay all day though & by late morning pottered the 45 minute drive across to Uzès – another magnificent Saturday market, which seems to get bigger every time I go.
I managed to find a spot for lunch under the vaulted arches on the main Place aux Herbes in the centre of the old town. Beautifully shaded it was the perfect place to sit for an hour and watch the market in full swing…….
And then again as the stalls are dismantled at around 1, a process that sees the square filled with empty crates, boxes, vans and cars as everything is packed away again & the traders head off for (I hope) a cold drink and a doze!
When I got back to the car I realised just how hot it was – I know the car had been sitting in the sun, but 47 degrees!
So back home – yes it’s quite a drive across to Sommières and Uzès from the Luberon and it was nice to have an excuse to go, but I enjoyed it so much that it won’t be long before I drag Andy across for another day out across The Rhone.