by Jim Ross
Street markets have been welcomed back, but they’ve been a vital part of many towns and cities for decades. An example is the bustling Villefranche-de-Rouergue Thursday Market in the French Aveyron. I was introduced to the Thursday Market when I first visited friends living nearby a decade ago.
The town square, Place Notre-Dame, is an almost perfect bastide, with arcades around the edges, and medieval houses above the arcades. Medieval streets radiate from the town square.
On market Thursdays, I’ve wandered through the square, the surrounding streets, and into la Hall—a newer indoor market—on each visit. My friends try to go every week. When I think of returning, I wonder what might have changed. It is comforting to know that, except when disrupted by war and other calamities, a street market has flourished in this 13th century town overlooking the Aveyron River for hundreds of years.
An article in The Guardian said the Villefranche-de-Rouergue Market is France’s best street market. That won’t sway my feelings one way or the other.
Walk around the market for a few minutes. Bring your shopping bag and an empty bottle or two. Experience the colors, smells, tastes, sounds. Keep a list of what you plan to buy. Or just be impulsive as we walk together.