The truffle market in Richerenches was just as “advertised.” One street is just for wholesale sales. Small vans are lined up on one side with their backs open and men, mostly men, crowding around buying bags of truffles. They are selling retail for about E110 for 100grams of truffles. That’s about $115 for one quarter of a pound!
The other street is a more or less regular market, with an emphasis on dried mushrooms and jars of truffles.
At noon we head to the Mairie (mayor’s office) for the lunch, which is held in a large room lined with tables set with wine glasses, knives/forks and napkins and a bottle or red wine and water. It is all run by volunteers and there are at least 5 tables with 20 people at each table!
First they offer us either a kir or a white wine aperitif and then comes the omelette with truffles, bread, then the salad with camembert and lastly an apple tart.
Everyone, needless to say is French. We speak to our neighbors on one side, which is a husband/wife and two teenage boys and our neighbors on the other, a couple a bit younger than us. The mother of the boys says they are learning English at school, and I say (in English), “do you understand English?” and he says “non”, although obviously he does. Of course, teenagers are the same the world over; slightly defiant.
I speak more French with the woman on the other side who gives me a recipe for truffles – a piece of bread, a scrambled egg, a slice of truffle, and fleur du sel on top. She also tells me that the truffles are more flavorful later in the year. That is very possible, since the omelette, although delicious did not have too much “truffle” flavor.
One of our goals on this trip was to head south to see the Mediterranean and to experience as much warmth as we could. We chose the resort/fishing town of La Ciotat as our base with the intention of traveling from their to the nearby Bandol wine region to taste some of their first class rose’s.
Overall it was a good experience — although we have learned that staying in small towns is probably not a great idea for us, at least, as there is not much to do in the evenings. La Ciotat and its neighboring towns of Bandol and Ste Cyre de la Mere are filled with large yachts and smaller pleasure boats. There is still some commercial fishing but it is mostly pleasure boats. And there are tons of them. Mostly French, but with a few British flags.
Our trip out to visit two wineries, Tempier and Pimbernon, were great successes. Amazing wine, which we were told quite firmly at both places, is designed to be consumed with food, not just as an aperitif. We bought 6 bottles at each place.
Tomorrow we head to Aix, our last “side trip” this round. Yesterday, based on an email from our go to website from Scott’s Cheap flights, we actually bought our tickets for next year! The cost for both of us is about 1/3 of what it cost for this trip without Scott, who is the son of friends of ours in Yellow Springs. I am a big fan!
Hopefully the Christmas Fair in Aix has not been cancelled. I will report back.