Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Morning at Chartrons Market in Bordeaux

Our morning at the Sunday market in the Chartrons area along the Garonne River in Bordeaux was the stuff dreams are made of. Full of special moments that I want to remember down to the smallest details. What's more amazing than a true French market?

But it didn't start out that way. Big Arrow whined and complained the entire walk and tram ride to the market. Little Arrow refused to sit in his stroller or hold on to anything on the tram. I was beginning to think the morning was going to be a disaster and involve juggling two grumpy kids.

And then, as we departed the tram at the Chartrons stop, I spotted a playground. Instantly, moods did a 180 and the vision in my mind for how the day might transpire began to materialize. Instead of scowls, there were smiles all around.

As I was pushing Little Arrow on a small merry-go-round, another little boy and his grandmother joined us. The grandmother started singing to both boys the most adorable song. (I found what I believe is the song she was singing here.) I'll never forget her kind eyes and voice. Little Arrow was mesmerized by the experience too, and we were both sad when her grandson hopped off and they walked away.

My own grandparents were French, spoke the language nearly all of the time. Naturally, I was reminded of them. In a small way, I felt as if I was sharing a bit of that heritage with my own son. He's so far removed from that part of my life; he never met them and all of his relatives speak English fluently. This was also a powerful reminder of how children are such a cultural equalizer. That woman never even realized we spoke another language, and I'm guessing she wouldn't have cared even if she did.

From there, I was jolted back to reality when Big Arrow noticed a skate park further up the river. While the boys (husband included) ogled the skateboarders and their fancy tricks, I noticed an older gentleman chatting with some teenage boys. I pieced together a bit of the dialogue, and watched them closely. Sure enough, this man, old enough to be my father, was schooling these youngsters in skateboarding.

I was too shy to ask that kind grandmother or that hipster grandfather if I could take their photo. But I'll picture their faces and those moments for a long while.

Now that the kids were firmly in "France is awesome!" mode, it was time to get to the business of the day. The Chartrons market was in full swing by late morning. Even if we had missed the row of white awnings and tents, we couldn't escape the delicious smells wafting over to the playground from the market.

We did what we tend to always do at markets. We walked the entire length, scoping out the various options before making any purchases. There was fresh fish, hot food from numerous ethnic regions, colorful produce, bakery stands, even wine and beer. We weren't terribly hungry yet, but we just knew this food was too good to pass up, so we decided an early lunch was in order. We let Big Arrow make a "treat" selection first. He opted for the colorful macarons he had spotted earlier. (I was thrilled, as it was such a "when in France" choice!)

Needing to balance out the sugar, we also went back for a helping of roast chicken and roast potatoes. I confess: it was all so delicious we ate it with our hands straight out of the bag. (Presumably very un-French, but c'est la vie!)

A morning that started out so rough transformed into one of those incredible memories that we'll cherish from this experience forever.

Want to read more?

I included our stop at Chartrons in my post about Bordeaux and Biarritz at Ciao Bambino.

Or see more photos of my kids enjoying Bordeaux here and here.

You might also enjoy my tips for visiting a farmer's market with kids.

Disclosure: My family was hosted by the Aquitaine tourism bureau during our stay in Bordeaux. We paid for all expenses while at the Chartrons market, however, and all opinions are my own.

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