Not your Average Market


The little town of Cadours, not far from Toulouse, has a magnificent market hall, built of the red brick characteristic of the region, but in the neo-classical style of the First Empire. It was under Napoleon I, in fact, that the market of Cadours first came into prominence, though it had already been going for a few hundred years before that.

No ordinary market, though. In Cadours they're single-minded. This is a garlic market. Not just any old garlic, either; Cadours specialises in the violet rather than the white.

We arrived in good time, to find the market hall almost deserted. A few stalls selling general produce, but no garlic. We went back outside and sniffed the air. Not a trace. So we gave in and asked a stallholder. Tsk tsk, she said, garlic is inodore; it has no smell. Well, not until you break it open, anyway. And the market? In the car park, where else?

And so it was. The grandiose hall has been superseded by modern practicality.


You see, a garlic market works the opposite way from all the other markets. There, the produce arrives in bulk and leaves in small portions. But garlic is a crop that can only be grown in tiny market gardens, labour-intensive. It needs love, and watching, and tender care. So it grows on patches the size of allotments and arrives at the market in the back of people's cars, is sold to the wholesalers and leaves in vast trucks. 

And there the producers were. The big operators had trailers, but most had simply opened the back of the family car and filled it with beautiful violet garlic.

Just as well it's odour-free, considering.