Friday, June 18, 2010

sounds like a French butterfly, or pepper and a filet mignon

For a change of pace, on Thursday, we went to Perpignan. It’s the capital of the Pyrenees-Orientales Department, which perhaps doesn’t tell you much until you realize that there are 95 departments in France (further grouped into 22 regions and the Pyrenees-Orientales belongs to the Languedoc-Roussillon region) and so perhaps being a capital may not mean that it is large.

In fact, Perpignan is about the size of Madison: the city proper has maybe 120,000 people and the larger metro area has around 300,000.


It feels significantly more urban than Madison. And, of course, it’s been around for a while (historians place its birth somewhere in the tenth century).


I admit, I wanted a city moment. And a bigger market.

And I did get both, though the market was still of medium proportions. And that's hardly surprising given that Perpignan has many outdoor markets, some daily, some four days a week, some on select days. It's a challenge to keep this straight. In any case, the old town market was the most atmospheric, if a bit on the medium small size.


Being the tourist that I am, I wanted to see the old town. And so we stayed within city center and satisfied ourselves with the food stalls and food shops around the Place de la Republique.





We basked in the loveliness of the old square...


...we shopped for dinner foods, and admired shop windows (here, I must admit I did the admiring and Ed kept the patient demeanor of a person who will be happy when his traveling companion is done with store gazing), and toward the end, were tempted beyond belief by the fresh oysters sold at this place..


... and wanting to reward my occasional traveling companion for his good cheer, I treated him, but really us to a plateful of wonderful, buttery Bretagne oysters.


And then we drove home. Happy as anything to be in the village again, where a dad puts his arm on his daughter’s shoulder, and an older couple takes an evening stroll with their dog, and our neighbor hauls in the best apricots ever.




Later, we ate our market riches on our patio. The bread was from Parpignan, for a change, but the pastries were from Sorede's bigger bakery.