Friday in Carmaux is market day, to which local growers bring the freshest seasonal fruit and vegetables (including wild asparagus foraged from the hedgerows) and where regional traders sell tangy cheeses, spicy cured meats and fragrant spices.
What's more, you
can see some spectacularly tacky clothing. You can forget Parisien chic - down here, the women like their coffee strong, their men silent, their hair garish and their clothes to be made of the most synthetic fibres known to mankind... Any brides-to-be should book in a special appointment at "Au Royaume de la Mariée" for that inimitable "My Fair Lady" meets "Debbie Does Dallas" look. And for "visionairy" hair fashion, look no further than "Styling - coiffeur visagiste". Quite terrifying. I think I may forgo getting my hair cut while I'm here for fear of what might happen... There's also a "Monsieur Store", but on further inspection, they don't have men for sale - not to worry, however, as Orlando has already decided to marry me off to the butcher's son...
Once beyond the bustle of the market, there are some lovely, quiet streets and squares, with the quintessential Hotel de Ville and church. I found an elegant, pale pink townhouse with roses growing in front - but Orlando tells me that it's to be demolished to make way for the extended DIY store. It's sad to think that progress could take away the most charming aspects of this market town, but the people round here certainly seems far from ready to abandon a way of life that has been enjoyed for generations, focusing on good food, farming and family.