The weather was glorious in south-west France during my short sojourn there. It was lovely to feast my eyes on azure blue skies part-filled with flossy white clouds, to feel the warmth of the sun on my back and to experience a succession of rain-free days. I was staying in Lisle-sur-Tarn a pretty medieval bastide (fortified) town between Toulouse and Albi. If the name Lisle-sur-Tarn sounds familiar perhaps you read Tracy Chevalier’s The Virgin Blue which was set in the town.


One of the highlights of my holiday was a trip to the nearby picture perfect town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val (from now on referred to simply as Saint-Antonin). Saint-Antonin, like Lisle-sur-Tarn, is a medieval bastide town. It gets its name from Saint Antonin an early evangelist who, according to legend, brought christianity to the area and from its location in a ‘noble valley’. The town is on the banks of the Aveyron river and as I crossed the bridge I could see the impressive nearby towering cliffs tumbling down to meet the rows of trees which line the water’s edge. It is a beautiful place to visit especially on a sunny day when the multitude of mellow stone buildings in Saint-Antonin shimmer in the sunlight.

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val market

I was there last Sunday and Sunday is market day in Saint-Antonin. Now in France local markets run the gamut from just so-so to very good. Saint-Antonin’s market very definitely tipped the scales at good to excellent. It is predominantly a food market selling a vast array of produce including: cheese, honey, foie gras, fruits, olive oil, and vegetables. But there are also stalls selling: soaps, flowers, plants, clothes, jewellery and pottery. It is the sort of place you could go with your basket in search of Sunday lunch and come away with a veritable feast. The only thing I bought, due to worry about budget airlines’ baggage weight restrictions, was a teeny tiny blue bowl from a stall selling rather lovely hand-painted pottery.

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val market

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val market

I was in France with a small group of friends so when we had ‘done’ the market we headed back across the bridge for a leisurely lunch at a riverside restaurant called Le Festin de Babette. It was warm enough to sit outside and we enjoyed a decent lunch accompanied by some of the local Gaillaic wines. Lunch over we headed back to Lisle-sur-Tarn; the sun shone until late into the evening and sitting by the pool until sundown was a perfect end to a lovely day.

le festin de babette restaurant

Sadly, since I returned home, the weather has been grey and chilly. I cannot quite believe that I need to put the central heating on at night in mid May. Roll on summer.


Filed under Food/Wine, France, Travel

17 responses to “Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val

  1. Deirdre

    Beautifully evocative description – I could feel the sun, taste the food and smell the things that were nice to smell.

    On a chilly and damp May evening – thanks d

  2. Lovely post indeed. I will be down that way in mid July staying at LaPalme, near Perpignan. One can’t get too much of the region. Peaches will be in season then….

    ps: NO WordPress, don’t ” Notify me of follow-up comments via email.”

    • Thank you Conor for your kind comment. I hope you enjoy your stay in France in July.

      I do hope you don’t get notified of follow up comments – it’s fairly maddening. Do you know about unchecking the box when you are posting a comment?

  3. H

    Hi B what a lovely few days you had – well deserved.
    I am off to France next Friday – around Brittany- and your piece has put me completely in the mood and looking forward to the trip. I just hope the weather in France is better than here – it is quite simply cold and I keep hugging our Aga cooker!

    • Hi H and thanks for your nice comment – I did enjoy my short stay in France. I hope you have a brilliant time in Brittany and that the weather there will be masses warmer than here. As you say it is cold; staying close to the Aga sounds cosy. Bon voyage. Bx

  4. Your post has me longing for a trip.. a European trip. We have our furnaces on.. and there were wisps of snow again this morning.. imagine!!

  5. A lovely holiday! I know exactly what you mean about markets and how they differ from to town to town – I would have been tempted by those rose petals. And yes, we’ve been lighting a fire in the evenings and it’s apparently MAY.

  6. Beautiful! I love all the blue shutters on the buildings. You did a great job describing it.

  7. A wonderful visit – beautiful place, good weather, lots of activities. Perfect!

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