Narbonne is another town in the south of France that is steeped in history. Full of gorgeous buildings, wide pavements and plane trees, the canal, coffee shops and little sun drenched squares.
Sadly I sort of glossed over all of that on our recent trip because, well two words: “food” and “hall”.
The Halles de Narbonne had been recommended to us as a must do on our trip to Narbonne, with the advice to go hungry. I don’t need telling that sort of thing twice. When we got to France and mentioned we were going to visit the food halls we were then advised that if we were going there we absolutely had to have lunch at Chez Bebelle. Ditto about not needing to be told twice, it was instantly booked and for reasons that are so unique I am going to write a separate blog post about it over the weekend.
We didn’t really know where we were going as we approached Narbonne from the main road so when we came across a road with parking spaces and parking meters we decided to ditch the hire car and walk, what turned out to be the last mile (PS parking meters in France typically take cards so if you don’t have loads of change you can use your card). But it was a gorgeous stroll through some pretty streets that wound their way to the main square where the Hotel de Ville stands above evidence of Roman roads. The cathedral to the rear is, apparently, unfinished and though there is no longer a Bishop in residence in the town it is the most popular place to worship. We stopped for a coffee in the square and didn’t really take in much more because, you know, food hall.
Though I did take some photos on the gentle stroll from there to the Food Halls because it was one of those perfect days with blue skies and very little wind that makes you just want to stroll and take it all in. One of those picture postcard days that you see in French films and with the wide pavements and trees really makes you aware that you are no longer in Hampshire.
We had no idea what to expect when we came across the food market and so when this came in to view we weren’t disappointed. What more could you ask?
All the producers and stall holders were enthusiastic about what they had on show and more than happy to hand out samples. Far from being a tourist attraction we seemed to be the only Brits, everybody else was French and stocking up baskets and trolleys for the weekends. The bars selling alcohol were filling up with people sharing wine and chatting loudly, even at 11am!
I was so “in the zone” that I even tried an olive. Now if you know me, you will know that they are known in our house as murdering bastards and that I hate them with a passion. So for me to stand in front of an olive stall and actually eat one was a momentous event. That will never be repeated.
Lunch didn’t disappoint either. Chez Bebelle is owned by a ex-rugby player and all I am going to tell you is that he orders your lunch from the local butcher with a megaphone, and the butcher then throws it at him for the chef to cook.
That’s all I am telling you for now though. You will have to come back for more.
As we will Narbonne.