Sunny autumn morning, organic market…

October 13th, 2010
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Somehow, organic markets don’t always show up on official listings and tourism internet sites, so the vagabond is adding a Bio Marché category to help you find them in regions of France. On this bright Tuesday morning, we drove to Bergerac in the Périgord, where biologique producers and artisans set up to sell their seasonal and organic products on a square facing the Mairie /City Hall.  Only a few weeks ago the surge of summer crowds filled this riverside city’s old town with visiting shoppers.  Now, back to autumn rhythms, the market has wound down to four stalwart vendors. I recognized the chèvre cheese vendor, a regular at Issigeac’s market on Sunday mornings. While buying a peppered chèvre, I admired a box of at least four varieties of apples, just-gathered walnuts and a tray of tempting chèvre mini-tartes.  Another regular vendor, Marie-Thé Martin, offers bread to go with any cheese, a range of small to large loaves blended made of wheat and spelt flour.   I remember  (can it be ten years ago?) when her husband was building the ovens in their barn near Molières, planting fields of épautre/spelt on land that had to be chemical-free (i.e. waiting four years before the wheat could be considered biologique/organic), and setting up a grist mill to grind the spelt into flour.  The family has worked hard, planting, grinding, baking and selling in markets to develop a loyal following for their breads and flour.  And a new item has been added to their stall, a seasoning sauce based on épautre (spelt), the ancient and nourishing grain so cherished by the Romans.  In response to my questions about this addition to her nutritious products, she suggested:  “… use Socepotre as you would soy sauce – and add a dash of lemon juice”. And so I will.

Anne-Sophie Martin creates healing and scented soaps

A new face at the bio market was a young woman selling soap.  This is her first year in business, selling her soaps through bio shops, boutiques and at markets. After working as a research chemist in the skin care pharmaceutics industry, she made soaps at home for six years before launching her own line.  She showed me the range of soaps based on essential oils as well as those without perfume. All are  simply cut into uniform squares.  How could I resist the soap for gardeners?

Soaps with poppy seeds or coffee grains serve as exfoliants...

She held up one of the apricot kernel soaps and noted…” I used a little coconut milk with this one for a nice foamy lather”.  The all-natural ingredients in her soaps include calendula and argan oil, avocado and honey, and donkey milk for very sensitive skin.  MC reached for a shaving soap of camomille and white clay scented with mint and lavender, while I couldn’t resist the wheat germ and coffee soap for dry hands.  Pleased with this discovery, we slipped soaps into the basket already bulging with onions, cheese and bread.  As we walked into Bergerac’s medieval quarter for a coffee pause before driving home, one of my old marketing principles came to mind:  bigger is not always better…seek out more relaxed, smaller markets.

Soaps:  For more on the Savonnerie En Douce Heure, send her a message at contact@endouceheure.fr or visit her site for points of sale: www.endouceheure.fr

Note: Contribute an organic market discovery/comment to our list as you travel in France!