local flavour weekend

A natural setting for a change from my city life

Today it's decided, I'll spend some time to find my next destination. 

I would like to find a place not too far from Toulouse, in a natural setting, as a change from my city life. As a gourmet, I would like to be able to find quality local products and some open-air markets. 

I love the atmosphere of the markets. The smell of the products, the hubbub of the crowd, the singing accents of the merchants, the pleasure of being able to taste a piece of local sausage here, a piece of cheese there, or to be seduced by a local wine. 

A pretty bed and breakfast, "Alabrena".

So I set off in search of this singular experience and I asked about the surrounding countryside and markets. I had already heard of St-Antonin, a medieval village in the heart of the Aveyron Gorges. I discovered that it is only 1h15 from Toulouse. Moreover, the village is known for its beautiful Sunday morning market.  

I am looking for a place to stay for a weekend at the end of April. I would like to be in a green setting. I found a nice bed and breakfast, "Alabrena", located on the heights of the village, in the hamlet of Ste-Sabine. It seems to be located in the heart of nature, with a magnificent view from the rooms. 

Flipping through the destination magazine, I discover that every day there is a market nearby: Wednesday in Laguépie, Friday in Parisot, Saturday in Caylus... I'm in for a treat! 

I arrived at my B&B on Friday evening and was not disappointed. Carine and Didier gave me a warm welcome. I discover my room, tastefully decorated and very comfortable. They explained that I could have breakfast on the terrace adjoining the room, overlooking the garden. 


La Guinguette de Cazals

For my evening meal, I have the choice: stay in St-Antonin where there are many restaurants, or move away a little. I choose to go to the Guinguette de Cazals, which reopens this weekend. The setting attracts me. This guinguette is located on the water's edge, in an old mill. I let myself be seduced by a small cocktail and by the guinea fowl stuffed with walnuts and its reduced port juice. A delightful treat. Then I go home for a good night's sleep before my next adventures. 

Breathtaking view of the valley

I wake up to a breathtaking view of the valley from this charming stone house. I enjoy this timeless breakfast and feel privileged. My hosts have prepared hot drinks, organic orange juice, bread, croissants, a selection of cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit, as well as homemade recipes such as yoghurts, brioche and jams. You feel pampered, just like at home, and the spring sunshine caressing my face does me a world of good.

The markets of Caylus and Varen

Saturday morning is market day in Caylus and Varen. I go first to Caylus. On Saturdays, the market is held on the square of the old wash house. From here, there is a breathtaking view over the valley. I take the opportunity to stroll through the medieval streets, visit the church where you can admire the work of a great sculptor, Ossip Zadkine, which I did not expect to find in a small village.  

I then go to Varen, which is just as rich in heritage. The old ramparts, the deanery, the Romanesque church, the fountain... and its small market under the market hall! Primeur, butcher, bread... These are small markets, but with all the soul that one appreciates, smiling people, at your service, quality products, a soothing calm and serenity... The little extra is that one can taste the products, here some strawberries, further on a little cheese...  

I pick up a picnic lunch and sit on the banks of the Aveyron. Then I enjoy the afternoon with a good book. In the evening, I stay on site to eat at the Moulin de Varen restaurant. Not only is the setting sublime, but it is also a festival of flavours: tournedos of Aubrac beef with foie gras, pan-fried scallops with yuzu pearls, truffle risotto, parmesan and rocket, hot soufflé with black crises and pistachio ice cream... A real culinary coup de coeur! 

St-Antonin market

After a good night's sleep, I walk down to the village of St-Antonin, taking part of the PR4 which passes close to my B&B. 

I discover a St Antonin's different from the other days, very colourful, very alive. You can smell the spices, the freshly roasted coffee, the voices resound under the market hall... The activity is concentrated on the market hall square, where you can even come across a small improvised concert, but the market extends much further to the church on one side and the Place des Tilleuls on the other. Cheeses, charcuterie, aligot, fruit and vegetables, but also jewellery, clothes, books... ideal for a varied picnic. I get to know the local specialities, such as Jacquou, a cake with walnuts, raisins, prunes and honey, or Rocamadour. The Ferme du Moulin de la Vignasse is indeed the only producer of Rocamadour in Tarn-et-Garonne. I promise Clément that I will return to visit his farm, located in an old mill on the banks of the Bonnette. 

Les Ateliers Occitans, a delicatessen located in the main street, offers Sunday morning tastings of local wines, sometimes with a meeting with the winemaker: Coteaux du Quercy vineyards, Gaillac wines... I didn't expect to find so much diversity. Patricia advises me on the best cheeses to go with the wine I have selected. 

I take the opportunity to buy some products for the house, so I will bring back a little piece of the Aveyron Gorges. 

A wool spinning workshop


In the afternoon, I let myself be tempted by a course of wool work, which I took care to book in addition to my stay with my hosts. I meet Marie-Claude, a wool craftswoman, who makes yarns from the most local sheep and alpacas possible. I choose an initiation to spinning wool on a spinning wheel and I learn how to prepare the wool before spinning, how to use the wheel, how to shape a skein... At the end of the three-hour course, I leave with my skein of spun wool. 

A single weekend was not enough to discover this territory where a real sweetness of life emerges. I will come back, to take the time to explore the other markets and other typical villages. 



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