16 December 2009 – Sunday was the Marché de Noël (Christmas market) in Plomelin. Plomelin, where I live, is a small community of 4200 people in the Quimper urban area; indeed, our home is exactly 10 km from the center of Quimper. Cities in the east of France are famous for their lavish Christmas markets, which draw major crowds for the entire month of December. Our little market was hardly in the same category, but it was a convivial occasion, with the tempting flavors of the season well-mixed with the fun of passing a friendly moment with neighbors and friends. Let's take a little tour ...
The famous Breton butter cookies – thin galettes and thick palets – are made with only the finest ingredients (and generally at least 23% butter). The Galettes de Tronoën come from about twenty minutes from Plomelin, next to the Chapel at Tronoën, where the oldest calvary in Brittany is located. I don't think a bad Breton butter cookie exists, but these are particularly luscious and buttery!
It was a grey day, with even a hint of snow in the air (we get about 2" of snow a year!), so the lighting wasn't splendid for photos. This vendor had a display of olives and condiments to make your mouth water, and this being France, you taste before you decide what to buy.
We have to have Christmas trees for Christmas! Here, we don't put them in water in those tripod stands – they are already affixed to a base and ready to place. (We're sticking to just branches this year at our house – a new cat makes a tree not too feasible. We'll put evergreen branches in all our Quimper vases ... ) And in the background, a foie gras merchant. I know they outlawed foie gras in Chicago, but it is a major holiday treat for me (Marcel prefers oysters), and the true connoisseurs argue about whether goose or duck liver is better. (Duck, of course!)
We have a fish seller at our market every Sunday, but this week, she's dressed for the holidays. And you can see Santa climbing up the tent post – Santa climbing up something is the most popular outdoor decoration here. He doesn't come down the chimney – he climbs a ladder!
It gets to be hard work doing the marketing, and you can always get a fresh crêpe for a burst of energy. Even better, take a dozen or two home!
The parent groups from the local schools offered a number of decorations and other hand-made items for sale. And school choral groups performed, adding the indispensable musical touch.
The parent groups were also selling hot drinks. You can see the coffee thermos, but much more interesting was the big pot in front, which had hot spiced wine.
It really was a family occasion ... those of us exhibiting (and I was there with the retailers of Plomelin – by the way, yes, I'm kid number 1 in our Christmas game) were on hand at 8 am. The tents were in place, but we had to set up our own tables. There wasn't much movement until about 10.30; by 11 am, there were people everywhere!
One member of the retailers' group is our local baker (he's also the president of the group). His wife was next to me with these tempting goodies, including macarons in all sorts of colors and flavors. In the little bags were balls of chocolate filled with salted butter caramel – a real taste treat!
Around 11.30 am, Père Noël arrived ... on a motorcycle! Let it not be said that we don't keep up with the times in Plomelin!! He had candy for all the kids, and he was most gracious about being photographed ....
And he asked me to wish you all a "Joyeux Noël"!