On the drive from the Toulouse airport to Carcassonne, we stopped in a rest area to get a snack. So France: a complete French hot deli, and a wall of local specialties opposite the chips and cookies. So, if you are on the road in France, and suddenly crave some foie gras or confit de canard, just pull into the next rest area, and you will be fine.

There is a large Carrefour store on the outskirts of Carcassonne: Combination Target and immense Safeway. Shopping at Carrefour is the other part of the real France, along with the traditional town-square weekly market. On our first evening, we needed to get some supplies. And on the second day, some more. The food part of the store is amazing: huge arrays of produce, cheese, charcuterie, nuts and more. Probably 8 times the size and selection as our old Kaneohe Safeway. The bounty means every choice is a (good) challenge: which of the 30 mustards? Which of the 100 cheeses? Which of the 40 butters? Which of the 4 euro wines from the region (it was hard to find anything more than 12 euros)?
But fortunately, as well, there is the weekly Saturday market in the main square. Even in the 40-degree morning, the market stalls were many as were the customers. Seasonal, of course, meaning endive, root vegetables, lots of greens, cabbage, artichokes… Warmer weather choices from Spain and Morocco as well. And really affordable: we spend only about 15 euros for about 4 days worth of produce, some cheese and bread. Great fun! Fulfilling one of the images of our French life!


On a winter’s day, Carcassonne is a little gray town. But during market day, lots of people are out at the market and the shopping streets, so the gray comes alive with activity. The main square, at dusk, started to light up: the combination of the warm lights, the dim sky, the leafless trees, and some good old French architecture revealed the charm of the place. That said, there are plenty of drab streets, and not a small number of empty store fronts. I remind myself that, on the surface, Kaimuki, Moilili and the rest aren’t exactly gorgeous either!

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