It’s a Late Sunday morning and the roads that stretch across the Périgord are nearly completely empty of cars. Most of the locals in the villages dotted around the province have just been to church and have taken the rest of the day to relax with their families. Issigeac, a small medieval village just 20km southwest of Bergerac, is abuzz with activity. Today, just like every Sunday, is the market. The roads have been closed off for pedestrians to be able to meander about the different stalls.
Issigeac is a bastide town which started off as a fortified village before spreading out from the city centre like spokes on a wheal. This is where the market takes place and where we spent our morning sampling the different flavours the area has to offer. Mountains of assorted garlic and homemade tapenades beckon us towards one stall where we are welcomed with a taste. Further along we find multitudes of stalls selling rilletts and foies gras, again being welcomed with a taste.
At this point, I would just like to take a pause before we move on to the cheese.
Are you ready?
Coming from South Africa, I do not often have the privilege of coming across not only the sheer variety, but the absolutely grand quality of the different cheeses each procurer has on display (okay, that’s not quite fair. Our home country produces fine enough cheeses in its own right). We were presented with selections of Camembert, Brie, Roquefort, Boursin, and the list goes on. We’re welcome to have a taste before we make our decision and walk away, with our bounty in hand, without neglecting to stop by a bread stall (or mini-boulangerie) to pick up a few baguettes.
And for those who are not quite as interested in purchasing the components of a smorgasbord, the market has a bit more to offer. Fresh fruits and vegetables line the city square where one can peruse the offerings in search of that evening’s supper or lunch for the following day.
Shopping also shan’t be disappointed with the clothing stalls which pave the entrances to the centre of the city. Beautiful dresses and leather belts and bags taunt the shopaholic in us all (we managed to escape with only having bought a belt or two).
The Issigeac market is an event in itself. One can go forth with a shopping list in hand, wander around for their afternoon snack, or simply meander amongst the bartering energy of the French locals and immerse oneself in the indigenous flavours of Périgord .