Shops in Caunes
Most local outlets close for 2-3 hours in the middle of the day. This can cause problems for shopper unused to this Mediterranean-style working day.If you start thinking about what you need for lunch at 12:30, then you’ve missed your chance to buy anything.However, they do stay open until about 7pm, so it is still possible to organize purchases for dinner quite late in the day.
Sadly Marlene’s shop closed on her retirement, but there are two sources of bread, croissants, etc. in Caunes: the local baker sells from the bakery (6 mins or less). Their main outlet, with a bigger selection (and useful little supermarket), is the Boulangerie in Ave. du Minervois ( continue down main street, cross Argent Double bridge, and the Boulangerie is on the right after the Pharmacie). Open 7-12:30 and 4-7:15pm every day except Monday. The other source of freshly baked goods (and many other things, including frsh fruit and vegetables) is the Vival Supermarket. The local butcher has relocated within this new supermarket. This shop is 5-10 mins walk — head down the main street, Ave du Minervois. Cross the bridge and take the first right. Vival, next to the post office, is a little way down the second road on your left. Open 8-12:15 and 3-7:15pm, closed Monday afternoons but open Sunday mornings 9-12:30.
Ultimately, taste, and more to the point, texture preferences are highly personal, but the insides of the average French baguette have, in our view, deteriorated to a light and airy nothingness (as with bread the world over, the economic allure of fast-rising yeasts and automatic mixing has destroyed its substance). The Boulangerie does make a small range of “pain tradition” and slow-risen chewy bread is often on offer. But both outlets offer a wide range of shapes and sizes, enough to suite most tastes.
[singlepic id=168 w=320 h=240 float=left]For truly excellent standard breads as well as some really interesting varieties (such as fig, or olive, or muesli), Carcassonne market is the place to go. The high quality and creative range is, however, offset by equally high prices (more like €4 rather than than €1, or less, for the standard baguette). The boulangerie on the Intermarché roundabout (see below) is a closer and cheaper source of a variety of excellent breads.
And for cash to buy all these commodities: there is an ATM outside the bank (a branch of Credit Agricole) on the Ave du Minervois (left side going down the main street) just before the bridge over the Argent Double (almost on the corner opposite the Café-Bar).
Closest petrol (and very reasonably priced) is the Spar station almost opposite the small Carrefour supermarket (which contains a decent butchery, and open 9-12:30 then 3pm-7:30, and Sundays 9-12:30) on the main road through Peyriac towards Rieux (15 mins drive). Head up hill from Caunes towards Trausse and follow signs for Peyriac. Cross the bridge into Peyriac and continue up the road to T junction. Turn left on the road to Rieux. Supermarket and petrol station are about half a mile or so, and before it is reached you will see the Tour St Martin wine cooperative on your left (well worth a visit: 9-12 and 2pm-7, closed Sundays).
The nearest big supermarket (set amongst a growing collection of other shops, including a Bio food shop) is the Carrefour in the Pont Rouge area, about 20 minutes drive away. Head down hill on main street towards Carcassonne. A mile or two out of Caunes you meet the main road from Peyriac, take it right. Continue through the villages of Villegly and Villalier to a major roundabout on the road from Carcassonne to Mazamet. Take the third exit towards Carcassonne. After passing alongside the canal and its locks you reach a roundabout (just prior to the Pont Rouge roundabout) take first exit to the Intermarché as well as a variety of other shops, and (usually) the cheapest petrol around at a 24/7 petrol station (automatic, credit-card payments). The large Boulangerie on your right immediately off the roundabout sells very good baguettes at sensible prices. The Carrefour bakery also has very acceptable baguettes and other bread options.
All of the local villages hold weekly markets as well as regular ‘vide greniers’ (flea markets — usually advertised along the roads). Of course, they vary enormously and they vary from one time to the next. It’s a bit pot luck, but usually well worth investing an hour browsing the stalls, or just sitting with a coffee or glass of wine outside a cafe in order to spectate.
The following article, which is primarily a puff for a book by ‘local’ author Kate Mosse’s (some set in and around Carcassonne as is her most famous oeuvre “Labyrinth” see http://www.maisonminervois.com/2009/06/relevant-reading/), extols the wonders of Olonzac market (about 30 mins from Caunes). From our experience many other markets are much better. Olonzac appears to be the epicentre of the Brit invasion and its market reflects this, which may not be why you chose to spend some time in rural France.
Jacques Magniet runs the local taxi service, running people around the Minervois region and also offering an airport shuttle service toCcarcassonne. He also speaks good English, Spanish and Italian. Check out his website for rates and other information. mobile: +33 (0) 670 374 885 office: 04 68 78 19 24