On Wednesdays, there is a regular morning market in Quillan, and they have the decency to hold it in the Place de la Republique, right outside our windows.
I had feared that having the market right there would be intrusive, with vans arriving down our street for a noisy set-up from the wee hours. But this morning they started arriving at about 6.15am. Yes, I was up at that time.
Nicholas and I watched from our first floor windows, overlooking the square, as the various vendors set their gear up. They clearly have a well-established routine, with their regular places, and a regular order of set-up. One arrives, parks, starts setting up trestles. Another draws in alongside. The manoeuvres get trickier as each van arrives, but they guide each other in. They greet each other by kisses on each cheek. They work methodically to erect tables, place cloths, display pallets, baskets, weighing machines. Umbrellas jostle for position.
At 7am a woman arrives with small child in colourful front pack. I think she must be the first customer, with an early-rising baby, out for a walk. But no, she unhooks the child, and sets to helping with the stall set-up. The child toddles around.
By 7.30am the stalls are all up and ready to go. Several fruit and vege sellers, a cheese van, a charcuterie van, a specialty Catalan salami trader, a coffee trader, a paella stall, and many selling plants. Apparently in summer, the numbers swell to match the tourist influx, with artisan bakers and other specialty produce.
Word is that the hardy customers arrive even before stalls are finished setting up. That’s true enough – I saw one or two come and go around 7am. Most locals will be in before 8.30am to get the cream of the crop. The local expat community may roll up by 9.30am.The tourists follow after 10am.
I’m not sure where we fall, having watched from 6.15am but only made it down at 9am to buy anything. But I plan to be a regular, even if many of the prices are more expensive than the supermarket.There’s also a bigger Saturday produce and flea market by the station in Quillan, and many other great local markets, particularly the Sunday market in Esperaza, so you will hear and see more from me on this topic.