I did try to get to work this morning, honestly. Not like yesterday, when strike-caused disruption to the buses was in truth only part of the reason I got to school more than half an hour late (the other half being the fact that I couldn’t quite pull myself out of bed on time). But today the bus route was blocked by protesters, and wasn’t going to make it to pick up at all from where I usually get on. So, having made the first half of my commute by fully-functioning tram, I turned around and went back exactly the same way I had come. Went home and, resisting a very powerful urge to go back to bed, resolved to do what surprise days off like this are surely made for – discovering beautiful French markets.
You’ll have to forgive the lack of faith I showed in Nantes when, turning around the corner from the tram stop to the site of the city’s main Talensac market, I murmured something under my breath along the lines of ‘oh, you’re not telling me this is it.’ Because, to be honest, Talensac isn’t all that – not at first glance, at least. All that greets you as you approach is a set of tired-looking stalls desperately trying to flog dated paintings and hideous rugs; the sort of stalls that wouldn’t look entirely out of place at a clapped-out old attempt at a market back home.
Thankfully, though, these are just the periphery of the wonders that lurk at Talensac – a real-life, buzzing French market, alive with locals doing their shopping, and filled with enough produce of every colour and description that I had to let myself have one full walk round just to look, before I went back to buy. Gorgeous, rustic, dirt-covered seasonal vegetables, about a million types of cheese, every cut of meat under the sun, and then the seafood – four or five different oyster sellers, plus prawns, scallops, mussels, fish fillets, whelks and our home favourite, winkles, among the array on offer.
What I came away with wasn’t exactly seasonal or even local – an aubergine, a courgette, a juicy, fabulously misshaped beef-steak tomato, a pack of mozzarella and a leg of rabbit – but I already had it in my head that I wanted to stuff that big hung of bread I’ve got in the cupboard, with roasted vegetables, cheese and a drizzle of oil. Next time I go to Talensac (probably tomorrow!) I’ll plan better, and really get the most out of its bounty.