After many kilometers, roads, towns, villages, and cities, six weeks of constantly moving and exploring can take its toll on you. Spending so much time trying to get a feel for different places is very difficult because, like I said earlier, you can’t spend much time stopping at and walking around every place you think of or come across. Nor can you attend all the events, or festivals which occur mainly during the summer. So, after going on a another day trip of discovery, we decided to go to a night festival back in the hill town of Monségur only a few minutes from our gîte.
We were told that we should get there early (6:30 or so) because the festivities draw a lot of people and finding somewhere to park would be easier. After getting back to our gîte and taking a little rest, we headed out to the marché nocturne (night market). As mentioned earlier, Monségur sits on a small hill and occupies only the top portion of it. The streets are short and narrow and there are only a few plazas within the village.
Since we arrived early, we were able to park close to where the festivities would take place. Already there was a stream of people walking in from all directions. Monségur has one street that has a few restaurants and cafes. It leads to the town center plaza a few blocks up the street. The main plaza is covered with a large open canopy around which there were venders selling all kinds of items from toys to arts and crafts. Next to and all around the open canopy were food venders (as well as winery representatives) selling food from rotisserie chicken to pizza and providing wine tasting (which by the way, was free). Inside the canopy was a stage on one side and many, many rows of tables and chairs for people to sit at and eat their food while listening (and dancing to) live music.
After strolling around the square we noticed a very nice restaurant at one corner and since we really hadn’t eaten out much, decided to sit down and enjoy a meal and the evening’s festivities. We had a marvelous meal staring with: Crément de Bourgogne which is a type of champagne (although it can’t be called that because it is not produced in the champagne region nor with the exact production method……but for all intents and purposes, it taste just like it). The Crément arrived with a small glass plate of Amuse-Bouche (single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres served free according to the chef’s selection) — tiny tarts filled with very tasty fillings. The appetizer (the Entrée in French) was a beautifully presented slice of country pâté accompanied by baby cornichons and a simple salad. For the entrée (referred to as the Plat), we chose sautéed duck breast with a delectable sauce reduction, petite string beans and mashed potatoes flavored with allspice. Dessert consisted of individual servings of apricot clafoutis with both whipped and whole cream. We enjoyed our meal with a bottle of locally produced red wine. The entire meal took almost three hours to consume. All that time, more and more people were arriving, strolling around the plaza, buying food from the vendors, or having dinner (as we were) in one of several restaurants.
It was a wonderful experience! Relaxing and enjoying a delicious meal, people watching and afterwards, strolling about ourselves. This is what we had been wanting — to experience France as the French do. The atmosphere was relaxed with people of all ages from the elderly to teenagers meeting friends to families with small children. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and there was a little something for everyone,from a jump house for the kids, a fire twirler, and an rock band playing American top forties hits from the past on the stage! We had a wonderful time and will remember this for a long time to come.
Monségur was founded by charter of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1265. On Saturday and Sunday, Monségur is celebrating 750 years as a bastide — a fortified town built in the Middle Ages. Yes, 750 years! All kinds of festivities are planned for the celebration. Unfortunately, we must move on to our next destination and won’t be able to attend the celebration. It is amazing to think how far back history reaches here and more so because there are so many original structures still standing even after all those centuries.