The calendar for August is starting to look messy so, making the most of a free weekend, we set off for a couple of days in the town of Moissac, which lies north-west of Toulouse on the Tarn river.
Taking the péage almost all the way, and stopping for a picnic (baguette, ham, nectarines, a large, lumpy, intensely-flavoured tomato I'd bought at Lavelanet market on Friday) we arrived in Moissac late afternoon.
We loved it for any number of reasons but here are a few that explain why we would go back in a heartbeat--especially in July. Starting with the top photo...
A chorister with flaming red hair. You see scads of redheads in France but this woman was the best yet.
Flowers everywhere you turned. Hanging baskets the size of VWs. Boxes of the biggest petunias I'd ever seen on the sides of the bridges.
Black and white stones individually placed to make pavements prettier.
Beguiling architecture. Moissac suffered a serious flood in the 1930s so, mixed in with the tall traditional French houses are examples of more modern design like this marketplace.
A river and a canal.
Ancient wooden doors opening into coold shady corridors that led to little studios housing painters, lute-makers and glass-blowers
A stupendous Sunday morning market (see separate post).
Magnificent Romanesque carvings (again, see separate post)
A lively main square filled with cafés, and streets lined with pinky-peach houses with chalky, sun-faded blue shutters. Moissac felt more like a town on the Mediterranean than one in the heart of the Tarn-et-Garonne.
Pilgrims embarking on the next stage of their long walk to Santiago de Compostela (www.caminodesantiago.me.uk) Moissac is on one of the main routes. Add to that that July 25 is the feast day of St. Jean de Compostela, and that when that day is a Sunday, it's an especially holy year and you can see that this was a good weekend to be wandering around in Moissac.