01 September 2007

Saturday Morning in Saint-Aignan

The main street through Saint-Aignan
passes behind the old church.

It's been a long time since I published any pictures of Saint-Aignan itself. This morning I went to get some things — champignons, rillettes, et fromages de chèvre — at the farmers' market. Rillettes (potted meats) and fromage de chèvre (goat cheese) are local specialities, and I bought them to serve to American friends who are coming for dinner Monday night.

This is one of two medieval buildings
on the main street in Saint-Aignan.

I ended up not taking pictures in the market itself because it was so reduced in size and activity. I'll wait for a busy day, when it's more interesting. It's now September, summer vacation is over, and a lot of the vendors take their own vacations after all the tourists leave town in late August.

A small section of the big Renaissance château
that sits up above the town of Saint-Aignan

So instead of three charcutiers, there was only one — the woman I call « Mme Doudouille ». A charcutier is a pork butcher who sells cuts of raw pork but also hams by the slice, a variety of pâtés and sausages, other cured pork products, and even salads and savory pastries like quiches.

A charcuterie sign above
a street sign in Saint-Aignan

Mme Doudouille — I don't know her real name, but we always have a good talk when I stop there — is still working the market after a close call (for us customers) last year, when she and her husband told us they were going to close up shop and move south to run a hotel-restaurant. Walt said he recently heard her tell a customer that she's been selling charcuterie in Saint-Aignan's market for 30 years now. She must have been a very young girl when she started. Her and her husband's business is called La Charcuterie Doudouille — Doudouille is a nickname for Edouard, I've been told.

Steps leading from the church and château
down into the streets of Saint-Aignan

There was only one poultry vendor at the market today, instead of the normal two. Some of the big produce stands were not set up. And there weren't an awful lot of customers, except in front of the fish monger's stand. Since there's no fish market in Saint-Aignan except the one at the market on Saturdays, and since the fish there is so good, it's almost always very crowded. The line can get very long, and it was today.

Sculpted capitals on columns at the Saint-Aignan church

The mushroom lady was set up at the market as usual. We learned last week that she might be going out of business at the end of the year. If it's true, I'll be pretty disappointed. I make it a point to buy some mushrooms from her every time I go to the market. They are always fresh and relatively inexpensive. Mushrooms are also a local specialty. A lot of them are grown in caves around the region.


  1. To think that I haven't finished posting my Saint-Aignan photos! I am always late with photos probably because I take too many.
    That medieval house is gorgeous. I love the 'I know exactly where this is' feeling, when I look at your photos! Next time, do take market photos, please! ;)

  2. Dear Ken, Walt, and Callie. This is a very special site to 'click' on to first thing each morning. I hope it never changes and that you know how much we all enjoy the splendid mix of information, conversation, recipes, details of your lives and, of course, the brilliant photographs of the three of you and the scenery around St Aignan. Our Scottish Terrier, Benjie, is very envious of Callie's delightful walks through the vineyards! Very many thanks for letting us share your days - Angela.

  3. I do recognize all of your pics today as we wandered thru St Aignan in 2004 after looking at a house nearby....how do you pronounce St Aignan? it's always hard for me to say.....the view from the chateau terrace is fantastic.....is it now an office building??

  4. Hi Melinda, I'm not sure what you mean about an office building. The château de Saint-Aignan is still a private property and residence, as far as I know. Did I say something to make it sound like it's now an office building? If so, I didn't mean to.

    Saint-Aignan is pronounced something like [san-tay-NYAN] (stress on the last syllable). It's impossible to render the French nasal vowels (as in Saint and the last syllable of Aignan) in English spelling.

  5. Dear Ken and Walt,

    I want to echo Angele's remark and her gratitude for the generosity of your site which I too click on first thing each morning. I get up really early here on the US West coast, usually around five or so. I read the paper, drink some juice, and log on. The trouble is of course that most US sites even on the east coast do not do much before six or seven am my time. But aha! Ken has already posted on French time so there are pictures to see, details of daily life to enjoy, food prep to watch-- you know one of my favorite details is the pictures you post of the advertisements you get for things, mostly food. When I am in France, I hate to get "pub" and my "facture" knows that and does not deliver them to us. But when I am here in the US, I love to see them because they are such an intimate part of the culture and they make me feel as though I were there.

    As a writer, I know how vital it is to choose the right details to convey an impression and an atmosphere, and Ken has a unusually heightened sensitivity to that value. In the year now that I have been reading this blog, I can think of no example of some small part of everyday life that ken has singled out that was not worth the attention. Bravo and thanks again.

    Dennis Martin

  6. Ken, Gabby amd I echo Dennis's comments. Your blog is exceptional in its telling details, and we -- also on the U.S. West Coast -- look forward to mornings in St. Aignan.

  7. Dennis, so you are back in Washington State now? I hope you had a good summer in the Périgord. Thanks for your nice comments.

    And Mary, thank you too. I haven't forgotten about the bread lady. I want to try to get a movie of her visit, but something always happens to make that difficult. One day soon...


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