Now that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder, people everywhere are thinking about preparing for the festive season. In our area, the marches aux truffes and the foires aux gras – truffle markets and foie gras fairs – are very much part of the run-up to Christmas.
The truffle markets will be taking place all over the Occitanie region (formerly Languedoc-Roussillon and Pyrenees Orientales) from mid-December to mid-March. The ones before Christmas will be especially popular with buyers who want a special touch of luxury for their celebration. You can find a list for the truffle markets in the region via this link. And if you want to know what it is like to visit a truffle market, have a look at the post I wrote about my visit to one such market a little while ago.
The foie gras fairs start in mid-October and run until the end of March, and are for those who enjoy eating foie gras and ducks and geese. At a typical fair you’ll find many different kinds of foie gras for sale, along with the meat of the birds who produced the fattened livers, either as whole birds (minus the livers) or pieces thereof. The legs can be turned into confit de canard (or confit d’oie if it was a goose), the breasts are grilled and the rendered fat is a great replacement for butter or oil in cooking. I’ve written about my quest for making confit de canard in a previous post. If you are interested in any of this, you can find the dates for the foie gras fairs via this link.
In this part of the world, to prepare for the festive season also means stocking up on good wines. To make it easier for the buyers to do just that, the Saint-Chinian winemakers’ syndicate has come up with the idea of an open day, a Journee Portes Ouvertes. The idea is that you can go from winery to winery, meet the winemakers, taste what what they have on offer, and buy what you like. The event will take place on December 10th, 2017 and you can find full details here.
Once you have your truffles, foie gras and wine, you’ll need to shop for presents. Where better but at one of the many Christmas markets which are taking place all over the region? Some are one-day events, whilst in the larger towns they can run for the whole month of December! Month-long markets can be found in Montpellier (1 to 28 December 2016), Carcassonne (3 – 31 December 2016) and Perpignan (3 to 31 December 2016); dates for the Christmas markets in Narbonne have not been announced at the time of writing this, and in Beziers there will be pop-up Christmas shops all over the town centre, rather than a classic Christmas market.
The smaller one-day events have already started, and here is just a small selection, to give you an idea of what is coming up! The first market on my list is at the Chateau Abbaye de Cassan on November 26th and 27th, 2016. This is a very popular event with many stalls. On December 3rd, 2016 markets can be found at Agde, Quarante, Serignan and Servian. The following day, on December 4th, 2016, Christmas markets take place in Saint-Chinian and at Terra Vinea near Portel-des-Corbieres. On the following weekend, there is a market in Lezignan Corbieres on Saturday, December 10th, 2016, and on the Sunday, December 11, 2016 there are Capestang and Cruzy. On December 17, 2016 there is a Christmas market in Valras Plage, and Chateau Coupe Roses in La Caunette is hosting a market on December 18, 2016. The last market on my list takes place in Caunes Minervois on December 20, 2016 – for all those last minute presents!!
Do you have a favourite Christmas market? How do you prepare for the festive season?