We woke up to -11 degrees on Thursday (-13 for some on the outskirts). Market trader and greengrocer Patrice and his équipe, who live in Rouvenac, a fairly isolated village 18 miles from here, woke up to -14 degrees. Thursday’s the day they come to sell in Laroque market. When it’s minus figures outside, who’d want to arrive before 8.00 a.m., set up a stall in an exposed market square, and stay there dispensing fruit, vegetables and bonhomie till about 12.30 p.m.? Well, if that’s how you earn your livelihood, that’s what you do. Your only other option is to stay at home and keep warm, earn no money, and watch your stock deteriorate. Which is what about three quarters of the traders usually at Lavelanet market on Fridays unsurprisingly chose to do this week.
But Obé who runs the bar and restaurant up in Place de la Cabanette had other ideas. He offered them his huge garage down in our street, big enough for 2 large vans and a car, and that became the market place for the day. It’s dark and perhaps a little cramped for several long runs of produce. But we don’t get out much here in Laroque, especially in a week like this one, and we all found it quite exciting to crowd in together and do our shopping: it gave us something to talk about. Patrice and co. took turns to warm their fingers at the rather antique heater Obé had dug out. They needed to. The temperature in that garage only just managed to crawl up to -4.
On our way back home, we just had to stop and look at the river which normally tumbles and chatters busily on its way though town. Here it is, almost frozen over.