Our favourite night market gets a split personality

One of our favourite summer activities over the past couple of years has been attending the Saturday night market — le  Marché Gourmand Nocturne — in the village of St. Pompon,  about five kilometres from Daglan.

Unfortunately, it seems that the market has become something of a victim of its own success.

If you plan to be in the Greater Daglan Area this summer, give this post a close read. Otherwise, you may be excused.

In case you’ve forgotten, the St. Pompon night market isn’t the usual weekly French  marché; it’s not about picking over cheeses, fresh vegetables and flowers.  Instead, it includes buying prepared foods (fresh oysters, curries, sausages, paella and much more) and local wine, and enjoying them at rough picnic tables with friends and neighbours and strangers. Dancing to the music provided by a DJ is another big part of the fun — and the event had been attracting all sorts of people.

As I wrote more than a year ago,

The organizers of the …  market deserve full marks, because they have created a treat of an event, one that really captures the community spirit of a small French village, bringing people together for food and fun.

Here are just two photos from night markets in previous years. First, have a look at the crowd of people enjoying themselves right on the main drag of the village:

It was hard to find a place to sit and eat.

It was hard to find a place to sit and eat.

And then this photo of the dance platform in front of the DJ’s stand, where little kids liked to spin and twist and jump, before the older folks took over, later in the evening:

For some reason, the kids were especially active on the dance floor this evening.

For some reason, the kids were especially active on the dance floor this evening.

So what’s new? Well, it turns out that St.-Pompon’s weekly event was simply too successful. Earlier this year, I happened to be chatting with the Mayor of the village, and I told him that my wife Jan  and I really admired the community spirit demonstrated by the summer night market.

Somewhat sadly, he said that the market had been generating too much money — and attracting too much of the attention of the tax authorities. I couldn’t follow all the intricacies of the tax situation. (Too much money earned by the food and wine vendors? Too much revenue for the village? I really don’t know.)  But the short story is that the Mayor had to cut back the event to just five per summer. And that’s what has happened.

So now there is a hybrid sort of structure. On Thursday and Saturday nights, there has been a night market at a ferme auberge several kilometres out of the village, high up on a hill. And then  in late July and early August, there is supposed to be a run of the “normal” St. Pompon night market.

This past Saturday, Jan and I drove up to Ferme Dauriat for one of the Marchés Gourmands Champetres, or Rural Food Markets. (To find it, drive out of St. Pompon to where the road splits for Saint-Laurent-la-Vallée on the right, and Prats-du-Périgord at the left. Stay left, in the direction of Fumel, and follow the long, twisting road all the way to the top of the hill; then turn left onto the little country road marked with signs for Ferme Dauriat.)

We arrived just as it opened, at 7 p.m., and were among the first people there, other than the food vendors. We had a glass of rosé wine; wandered around the various stalls; and then sat at a picnic table with our modest selections (cheeseburger for me, grilled sausage for Jan) and drank some more rosé wine. Then we went home.

Now it may have become lively later, but it certainly wasn’t while we where there. Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of the event, starting with a look at the DJ’s stand and makeshift dance platform:

By 8 p.m. last Saturday, there was still no music.

By 8 p.m. last Saturday, there was still no music.

Here are some of the food vendors, preparing a variety of the usual local favourites, next to the wooden structure (at the right) where wine and other drinks were on offer:

The usual local dishes -- sausage, duck and so on -- were being prepared.

The usual local dishes — sausage, duck and so on — were being prepared.

Finally, here’s a look at some of the tables, showing that by 8 p.m. or so, there were a few participants, but certainly not a crowd:

A few of the picnic tables were in use, by the time we left.

A few of the picnic tables were in use, by the time we left.

I’m sure the event would be more fun if we went with a few friends, but it certainly lacked the lively village atmosphere — and the huge variety of foods — that Jan and I like so much in St. Pompon proper.

In any case, here’s the schedule of events for your use, alternating between Ferme Dauriat and the village of St. Pompon:

  • Ferme Dauriat on Saturday evenings: July 11, then August 22 and 29.
  • Ferme Dauriat on Thursday evenings: Every Thursday from July 9 through August 27.
  • St. Pompon on Saturday evenings: July 18 and 25; then August 1, 8 and 15.

Chances are good that Jan and I won’t be attending the night market in the field, but for sure we’ll be in St. Pompon on Saturday evening, July 18. Maybe we’ll see you there.


This entry was posted in Festivals in France, Food, French food, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Tourist attractions, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Our favourite night market gets a split personality

  1. Caitlin Woodbury says:

    I saw Willi (the Ile de Maurice fish curry guy) the other night. He said he is now serving his fare at Chez Popo outside of St. Pompon, one night a week (I forget which night). Is Chez Popo the same as Ferme Dauriat? This is all so confusing. Or perhaps my brain is melting.

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