If you live in our neck of the woods (Do French woods have necks?), and if you are into vide greniers (Car boot sales? Community yard sales?), then you’ve been to Le Somail. Twice every year, spring and fall, this quiet little community along the Canal du Midi is overrun with bargain hunters and with sellers both professional and private intent on convincing the assembled masses that their wares are indeed bargains. Tables line both sides of the Canal and the side streets of Le Somail for a couple of kilometers in total. It’s a veritable smorgasbord for the discriminating trash hound.
We’ve had our share of luck. At various times, we’ve purchased a good-sized ceramic jardiniere to use as an umbrella stand in our entry hall, a collapsible wire egg basket that fits on top of the microwave but under the cabinet above, and there’s a brass bell that we’re going to use to replace our electronic doohicky as soon as I pull out my tools and figure out how to hang it.
Enter friends from Mexico. Cathey and Anna met at an exercise class at the Y in Allentown. Each having discerned that the other was an atypical Allentonian, they became friends. We became friends. And after retirement took us to different countries on different continents, we’ve kept in touch. Anna and husband Hank have even taken to visiting us here in the south of France in the fall around the time of Anna’s birthday and mine.
This year, Anna’s birthday day fell on a Monday. She asked us to choose a nice restaurant for lunch to celebrate. Monday? And the week of a bank holiday to boot? Every restaurant that I called was either closed or fully booked. I finally tried a restaurant that had been recommended to us but that we had never tried, Le Comptoir Nature in Le Somail. They were available. It seemed dangerous to book a birthday luncheon for a foodie friend at a restaurant that we didn’t know. But what else could we do?
So. Monday. Off season. Quiet. The sun shining warm enough to dine outside. And without one of those vide greniers happening, no hustle and no bustle. Did it work for us?
It did indeed!
Check out the website HERE. The setting right beside the Canal provides a postcard view. The menu has something for everyone and is reasonably priced. And how many restaurants do you know that list the sources of their meats and veggies and ice cream and such? Often, both the region from which they come and the name of the producing farm or family are included. Take the duck tasting platter pictured below. The website even names the family that produces the cereals that were fed to the ducks raised ‘at liberty’ that provided the foie gras and the dried duck breasts. Also on the plate you’ll find fritons - duck fat cracklings - creme brulee with foie gras at the bottom, organic lentils, onion confit, and a nicely dressed green salad. Price? 18€. Cathey ordered what amounted to a full-on Frenchified tapas plate with 10 or 11 different meat and veggie tastes - also 18€.
Don’t wait for the next vide grenier. Worth a special trip.
Read all of my restaurant reviews HERE.