Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Market

Montpellier's Place de la Comedie has gone all Christmassy with a village of Camargue chaletsles cabanes de gardians - full of potential presents. I was there on Friday evening having seen the boys onto their train up to Paris. All alone, then, I was free to do some unfettered shopping, for them, and then mooch around the market unhindered by nagging or moaning.

It was the opening of the market so the stall holders were very keen in a freshly-arrived sort of way rather than jaded desperation. I had a bag full of long thin presents all wrapped up on my back and when I went to buy a cup of hot spiced wine, the seller made the jolly observation that I looked just like a sort of Mère Noël.

Steaming cup in hand, I went off to look at the village scene of santons which represented a garrigue hilltop village with shepherds herding sheep, a woman picking olives, various craftsmen at work and of course the stable with Mary & Co. It was beautifully done actually with the stone-built cottages and dry scrub garrigue.

From there, I wandered down the Esplanade where more stands were open selling foie gras produce, hats, crafted jewellery, regional wine, champagne, toys, mosaic-decorated items, leather goods, olive oil produce (soap, candles etc.), and food. Lots of of it, too. There were stands of Lebanese, Moroccan, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese delicacies; aligot from Lozère, shellfish, and hotdogs. It all smelt delicious. You could either eat wandering around or go into a marquee which had some tables and a high bar to lean on while you ate.

At the end of the Esplanade was a skating rink which cost €4 including skate hire and, compared with skating in London - £13 adults, £8 kids - is a bargain! Next to it, the ski resort of Font-Romeu Pyrenees 2000 was setting up a ski slope, complete with snow!

The Christmas lights this year are blue and white and very elegant they looked too. Thousands of tiny lights cascade down the trees while the Christmas tree is decorated in fat bands of overlapping colours which flash on and off up and down.

I was waiting for my TWDB to arrive off the train from Paris so mooched about until the bags got too heavy when I repaired to the station to sit and read. When he arrived, we dumped our stuff in his car and went back to the market so he could have a look, and get some supper. We didn't buy anything off a stand because the tables were all taken in the marquee and it was too cold to be wandering around eating, especially if you've been up since 4.30am and made a day return business trip to Paris. So we went and sat down in the warm at our favourite pizza restaurant, Piazza Papa which has the best dough we've found in Montpellier.

When the boys arrived back this evening, my youngest immediately took off around the house. I wondered briefly what he was doing and soon found out when he went into the garage and whooped with delight. He'd found the presents - luckily already wrapped up by the shop.

No, I said, you cannot open them now, the clue is in the term 'Christmas Presents' which means that you have to open them at Christmas. If they were called 'Anytime Presents' you could open them any time, but, being rational and logical about it, Christmas presents are open on Christmas Day so you'll have to wait.

That made them laugh and shut them up.


  1. The market sounds great. I've got family coming to visit in a week's time, so might have to go check it out!

  2. It's definitely worth it, Duchess. I'm going back this weekend with the boys so they can go skating.


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