Saturday, February 8, 2014

Disorderly orderliness

The marche is picking up. More people, more stands. (This photo is from last summer - did not have a camera with me today.)

I love the order and the ebb and flow of the twice-weekly open market, staged on two of the main streets in the centre of the village. It's a combination of local merchants like the green grocer Chez Elisabeth (on the right side of the photo), the vin cave on the opposite corner, and a few others who move some of their wares to tables outside their shops ... one or two such as the rotisserie chicken vendor next to La Noisette who rents ground-floor space for storage and cooking but opens the wide door into an awning only on marche days ... Barbara's English-language used book store ... Miloud's art studio ... and the majority of vendors who bring their locally-grown food or flea-market bargains for one or both days.

The spaces on the street are allocated by a village committee, and many of the vendors are moved around to different spaces so the foot-traffic allocation will be fair and equalized over time. 

But there are a few vendors in the same spaces each time, and you can readily see why it makes sense to do so. A couple of the transit chicken and meat purveyors, for example, drive in small trucks - the side of the truck opens into an awning, much like a state fair or the construction site food wagons I used to see at lunchtime in Texas. The trucks of the Argeles marche are always on the end of the line, allowing easy access to the nearest in and out street or alleyway. Where there are steps to be negotiated, the vendor wares are more lightweight, such as the scarf guy. Fruit and veggie vendors tend to be at ground level and must carry their goods in boxes from the nearest parking location.

Clean-up, after the marche shuts down about Noon, is also in incredibly efficient. Within an hour or so, you would not know the market was there. No trash on the street, no boxes. All as efficiently moved out as it was moved in.

The best thing for us is that the marche is right at the end of our street. We grab a sack, stroll for a few minutes, chat with people we know (or strangers), and come home with plenty of goodies to eat, or the occasional clothing item or bouquet of fresh flowers.

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