A taste-worthy visit to the Covered Food Market at Narbonne

Fruit Stand Les Halles Narbonne
Fresh fruit stalls at Les Halles, the covered food market in Narbonne
Athos guests tour the Covered Food Market in Narbonne 

Athos is into her last weeks of the 2010 season. It never fails to surprise me how all of us (onboard crew and me at home in the office) have our internal timers set to the last second of each season. It also never fails to surprise me how, after 21 years of this, we continue to come up with different ways of tweaking our program to improve passengers’ holidays and give the crew a little boost of energy now and then.

Chez Bebelle - Restaurant at Les Halles Narbonne
Chez Bebelle

This year, our clever-clogs Tour Guide, Lydia, came up with the excellent suggestion of an authentic market-lunch with passengers. This would provide Chef and the onboard hostess with a one-meal breather, and more importantly, Athos passengers would experience a meal off the barge, while having a taste of French produce cooked right in front of their eyes.

Lydia decided to take everyone to Les Halles, Narbonne.

The Narbonne covered food market is a feast for the senses.

The long corridor through the centre of the building bustles with people, patisseries on either side as you enter, fruit and vegetable stalls piled high with bright fruit and greens, flower stalls with rustically organised bouquets in pails, and found by the nose first – the numerous fish stalls down at the far end. Having lived in the Languedoc for 13 years now, I still consider this one of the most stimulating and amusing places to visit!

Bar Style lunch at Chez Bebelle
Visit in the Narbonne Covered market and lunch Chez Bebelle
A Typical French lunch at the Food Market

After chatting with Rugby-loving patron Gilles Belzons, (nicknamed Bebelle, and voila restaurant name “Chez Bebelle”) and making the necessary arrangements, Lydia shepherded her group around the meat or fish stalls allowing each passenger to pick and choose their meal. She then ported their wares back to Bebelle and his chef. Half an hour later, a glass or two of wine at a comfortable table within view of both the grill and Bebelle’s entertaining antics, and PRESTO – passengers’ chosen lunches appear before them, along with a bit of friendly conversation from Bebelle and his équipe. Does it get any more authentic than that!?