Saturday, 13 December 2014

In which we visit a Christmas Market......and have a puncture!

No sooner had December started, so there was the start of  les marchés de Noël  (Christmas markets!).  There were several going on last weekend including one, which, although an hour's drive away, was one we hadn't yet visited.  We'd heard very good reports about it so we decided to go and see for ourselves on Saturday.  It was in the 'troglodyte caves' in a village called Doué-la-Fontaine.  Although I have included some pictures below, I have to say it's worth clicking this link and having a look at the official website because the pictures on there are far better than anything I've managed to achieve!

This Saturday it has been dull, wet and windy but last Saturday, although quite cold, was very sunny and bright.  In fact, I took this photo on our way to Doué-la-Fontaine - this is our corner of France at its best - beautiful blue skies and open space!

This next picture is at the entrance to the market...
And here is a selection of others from within the market. (As I said above, the ones on the official web site are far better!)

There is always food available at these events and naturally, a bar!  In my experience, they tend to have a fairly limited selection of food but it is always very reasonably priced.  Danny and I each had un sandwich (which, in case you're not aware, is a chunk of baguette - not like an English type of sandwich!) and we shared une barquette de frites.  While Danny stuck to his usual beer, I couldn't resist a more traditional vin chaud  or mulled wine (conveniently hidden in this next photo!)

We didn't buy very much at the market but we couldn't resist some chocolates and on our way out, succumbed to some freshly roasted peanuts and chestnuts.  Here's Danny getting stuck into them!!

We left the market around 4pm and were only a couple of kilometres into our 64 kilometre journey home when Danny noticed that the car was pulling to the right.  He immediately suspected a puncture and stopped to examine the tyres.  We don't carry a spare wheel; just a tyre repair kit.  At first Danny just put more air into the tyre but after another few more kilometres, it was clear that it was a bit more serious.  We stopped and Danny attempted to use the repair fluid without success.  We could, of course, have phoned for help except that (and I think this is what they call 'sod's law') neither of us had our mobile phone with us!  Rather bravely, Danny then drove the car at a snail's pace to Bressuire, a town which is about 15 kilometres from home, where the tyre finally gave up and disintegrated!  We had been trying to get to an English couple we know there in the hope of using their phone to get a taxi - but they weren't there!  Danny had pulled off into a side street and a French couple came out of their house to see what we were doing.  (This is nothing unusual in France; they are always watching and looking to see - who knows what?!)  I explained our predicament as best I could, hoping they would let us use their phone.  But - the man offered to take us home!  We were so touched by this generosity and even now, a week on, I still feel so incredibly moved by that man's kindness.  I tried to give him the box of chocolates we'd bought and Danny offered him money.  But he refused both.  He and his wife also told us they would keep an eye on the car and make sure it was safe.  We saw them again on Monday when we returned to sort it out and we have bought them a nice bottle of wine as a thank you gift.  And to finish the story, we bought two new tyres and are using the old but good tyre as a spare.  We have also put an old mobile phone in the car to carry with us in case of future problems!!!

And needless to say, we didn't get to go to the Christmas market we'd intended to go to last Sunday!  Still, I guess it would have been an anti-climax after the wonderful one at Doué-la-Fontaine!

I shall write again in a few days with news of what we've done to the lounge....

À bientôt


  1. Sounds a fantastic market. Hubby says the only thing missing from the ones we've been to is roasted chestnuts x

  2. What a lovely post! What lovely people to help you ! Happy Holidays!

  3. We've seen roasted chestnuts but no vin chaud ;(

  4. I seem to keep missing the Xmas markets. Hoped to go to one on Friday evening but then we expected a visitor so that put paid to that. Mind you it was a bit chilly so I did not feel so bad! We are off to the UK for a couple of weeks so wishing you a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2015. Diane