Well, we've now been to our first Marché de Noël or Christmas Market!
It was held in the "Salle des Fêtes" - which is probably the equivalent of an English village hall. Even the smallest of villages (like ours) has a Salle des Fêtes, along with a Mairie (Mayor) and a church, the latter of which usually dominates the centre of the village. The Salles des Fêtes which we have seen so far, like most places here, are very well kept and looked after. I believe some of them are used to hold what we might call "tea dances" where older people go and do ballroom dancing and I'm told it's a very popular activity on a Sunday afternoon (perhaps something to bear in mind for the future?)
The Salle des Fêtes in Fenioux was the venue for this first Marché de Noël experience of ours. Whether it will prove to be typical remains to be seen but it was not quite what I expected. It was a bit like a craft fair, with maybe 25-30 "stalls" run by both French and English people. The produce was of a very high standard and there were some really unusual items. As with a lot of things here, the prices were reasonable given the amount of work which must have gone into making some of the items. Among other things there was hand made jewellery, hand painted pottery, wooden and leatherware and paintings. I could have spent a fortune on knickknacks for the house but we were supposed to be buying things for Christmas! I had expected stalls of cards, wrapping paper and decorations but apart from a few hand made cards, these weren't present. Never mind, we did buy two presents (obviously can't say what or for whom!!) and two paintings for ourselves.
What does impress me about the markets (and indeed the "vide greniers" - or boot sales in English) is how beautifully presented they are. We went to several vide greniers during the summer months and were amazed at how clean and well presented the goods were. I did several boot sales in the UK and have to admit that my wares came straight out of the loft and on to my table on the day!
Anyway, I think we have Marchés de Noël to go to every weekend leading up to Christmas so it will be interesting to see how they compare. I'll let you know!