SommièresFebruary 1 in France ⋅ 🌧 9 °C
The large overflow carpark on the edge of Sommières is home for today. The original tarmac car park is packed, but thankfully there is plenty of space on the gravel area where we are. The reed lined River Vidourle runs alongside and large flocks of crows call out as they fly to and from their high treetop roosts.
It rained for most of our journey here, but eased off soon after we arrived in the early afternoon. We are getting used to shops closing for lunch, so Will took the opportunity for a little fish before we headed into the 'centre ville' via an arched Roman bridge, built in the 1st century by Emperor Tiberius. Today it serves as a road bridge, narrowly squeezing two way traffic between its low walls, without leaving much room for pedestrians. They have their own low concrete bridge a little further downstream.
Currently we are taking a more passive approach to travel; plotting a route that will get us to our ferry and simply seeing what the journey brings. We'd not researched Sommières, so had few expectations and were pleasantly surprised as we took the grand entrance through the town walls, via the archway (complete with portcullis) built into a clock amd bell tower. Tall, terraced shops and homes, their walls leaning inwards, formed narrow alleyways, where we were shocked to see a few people daring to drive, or rather crawl along in their cars.
Despite its modern creperies and clothes shops, Sommières exuded history. It is one of those towns that has had continued habitation through the centuries. Old has stayed old, but been adapted and extended in an effort to suit the demands of successive new ages. Certain streets were entered into via small stone arches and the rain brought out a smell of damp concrete in some residential areas, adding to the olde worlde feel.
The businesses around the small main square marked the town out as somewhere people would travel to visit as a treat, with cafés, gift shops, artisan boulangeries, patisseries, galleries and a florists. Spreading out from here were sellers of loose teas, wines and craft beers, fashion boutiques and even a hippy shop where Will found a new pair of trousers. People didn't appear as openly friendly as in many of the smaller places we've been staying, but this is often a consequence of larger settlements. As we were leaving we saw a sign giving notice of a road closure each Saturday for market; we were in luck!
The following morning even more cars streamed into our car park. We waited for the heavy rain to abate to a constant drizzle and made our way in towards the covered stalls that lined many of Sommières' streets and filled its squares. Apart from a few clothes and nik nak vendors, it was mainly a food market, with fruit and veg, baked and sweet goods, cheese, fish, fresh and processed meats filling the majority of tables. We were a little surprised at how many of each type there were, as competition usually whittles them down to no more than half a dozen. We managed to pick up some organic bread and veg amd opted for three ages of sheep cheese from a very small, local producer.
The Yellow Vests were actively leafletting and mustering support. One kid of around 11 years even tried to recruit Vicky, bounding up to her and asking 'vous voulez participer avec le gilets jaunes?' They looked intially crestfallen at her stringent 'non', but soon bounded up to the next unsuspecting passer by!Read more