Chestnut festival in Laguépie

Is that a conker or a sweet chestnut? Would you be able to tell them apart? It's only recently that we have been able to recognise the subtle difference between the two. Sweet chestnuts started to appear in the markets about a month ago. On a recent drive back to our village we foraged along the roadside for our first batch which we roasted in our wood burner. My memories of eating sweet chestnuts are on Bonfire Night and on cold winter days at Christmas markets. One of my favourite Christmas songs starts with the line 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...' I don't find them particularly appetising but as they're all around us at the moment we're embracing them!

Laguépie is a village that sits comfortably where two rivers meet and every year they hold a popular Foire à la Châtagne, Sweet Chestnut Festival. We were greeted on arrival by pumpkins! A fun display of pumpkins and squashes all shapes and sizes. I had my eye on the larger ones for Halloween carving and Reuben picked out a couple of small ones to display at home. We wandered through the market and came across chestnut honey, cakes being cooked on a spit, beautiful birdhouses (see picture below), colourful pottery (which I resisted), fresh oysters and clogs. There was an aerial assault course and outdoor games for the children to play with and a bar, suitably placed in the middle of the market, for the grown ups!

And then we found the chestnuts...

There were chestnuts being turned and roasted in large wire barrels over hot fire. There were chestnuts to buy by the kg, varying in price depending on size. We bought 3kg which were weighed out for us with traditional scales. We have plans for sweet chestnut purée in time for Christmas, but do pass on any good chestnut recipes if you have them. 

On the walk back to the car we came across what I can only describe as Maypole dancers, though I'm sure they are called something else in France. Men and women in traditional costumes danced around a pole with ribbons held up by a lady in the middle and accompanied by two accordions. We watched them until they finished their dance and allowed the boys to take in the music and performance before them. It was a lovely end to another festival that I'm sure we will return to next year.

What seasonal festivals have you been attending lately?

Becky x

Find more pictures from the Laguépie Foire à la Châtagne on our Facebook page

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