Alex van Terheyden
Revèl France - A Market town in the South of France that comes alive on Saturday
As the brakes come off the Global Lockdown, it gives many of us, a needed excuse to go out there and explore. I recently found myself in the South of France (although some may call it southwestern France) in the Haute-Garonne department of France. One of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. Created from part of the former province of Languedoc. I just happened to find myself in the usually sleepy town of Revèl except today was Saturday and this was the day that Revèl has traditionally come alive.
Revèl with a population just shy of 10,000 takes a deep breath in every Saturday when visitors pour into its Medieval centre and migrate on mass towards the Market Square. Steeped in over 650+ years of trading history visitors get a chance to purchase some of the finest local produce this area of France has to offer. From fresh Oysters, locally made Pâté and fruits so ripe you could eat them like candy. While all at the same time encountering wonderful french characters with each turn you take.
Founded in 1342 by Philippe VI of Valois. The heart of Revel is its central market, Right in the centre of the market square is an ancient 14th-century building supported by a forest of pillars and beams. As you penetrate the centre of this truly beautiful medieval building you encounter the tourist office that allows access to what used to be the local Jail and also the Watchtower. To really get a perspective on the town it is recommended to head up to the top of the watchtower. Here you will see close up the Market squares beautiful clock tower and be able to look out across the wonderful landscape taking in the Black Mountains and the towns Notre Dame Cathedral.
Look down into the square and you will hear the buzz of the visitors and full-time inhabitants doing their weekly shopping. Content in the knowledge that their ancestors and many like you will have partaken in an almost an identical activity for over 6 centuries in the exact same place and in the uniquely identical fashion.
As Revèl grew over the ages and its market became more widely known it attracted some incredibly talented tradesmen. From the nineteenth century, cabinet makers, markers, sculptors, and bronzers made Revel the capital of the Furniture of Art. However, as the modern world has taken to pre-packed self-assembled minimal furniture from Sweden Revèl's furniture trade has contracted massively. Although, new furniture is still being made in the town and its history is celebrated at the furniture museum also found in the town.
If you are curious about what a Market day looks and feels like in the days after COVID I've made a video where I walk around the market and then head up the watchtower to get the picturesque view over the bustling market town.
And when you have had your fill of Markets, Cathedrals & Furniture you could take a short drive to the Saint-Ferréol lake. The Lakes beach is a stone's throw away from Revel. The centrepiece of the genial device created in the 17th century by Pierre-Paul Riquet to supply water to the Canal du Midi, the Saint-Ferréol lake, classified as a World Heritage site. Humanity by UNESCO constitutes a tourist site to be frequented in all seasons. With its 80-hectare park, its waterfalls, its sheaf of water and its shaded alleys, the site offers all the pleasures of swimming (monitored in summer), fishing, discovering nature, as well as practising many sports: Boats, windsurfing, tennis, horse riding, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, speleology and gliding. I'm sure I've missed something there but it gives you an idea that there is something for every outdoor enthusiast.
To get to Revel if you are not from France I recommend flying into Carcassone but it is also very reachable if you fly to Toulouse in the west or Perpignan in the east. Many of Europes numerous Airlines fly into one of those 3 airports - depending on where you are flying from. You are of course more than likely to be able to pick up a good deal if planned ahead. Kayak, Google Flights and Skyscanner should be the go-to websites for searching for the best flight deals. In my personal experience, my favourite place to go for European flight deals is Skyscanner. For some reason, Skyscanner works best when searching for European Flights over any of its rivals.
If you are tempted to visit Revel and the Saint-Ferréol lake, you could stay in one of the hotels, Auberges or Airbnbs that are in and around the area. Over the years, I've had the fortune to stay in an array of hotels, apartments and various forms of accommodation while travelling. For the majority of travellers, I recommend Booking.com - yes there are hotel comparison websites such as Trivago and Kayak. However, from my years of travel experience, I've discovered both of these comparison websites do not have all the hotels, hostels and apartments listed. The reasons behind this could be some premises simply do not pay the comparison sights a fee or the reason could be something else. If you know of the reason do leave a comment below. However, I have discovered no matter what the location Booking.com will 9/10ths of the time have the most competitive deal and generally the most choice. However, if you are super keen to get the best deal- use Booking.com, Kayak, Trivago, Lastminute.com and Hotels.com in separate browser windows.
An alternative which I do recommend for your accommodation is Airbnb. The city authorities still allow Airbnb in the city (it hasn't been banned just yet). I've booked a number of apartments via Airbnb. If you have not used them before (you have probably been living under a rock). But if you use this referral link you will get many Dollars or Euros off your first booking and I'll get a very small referral kickback. I'm an Airbnb host as well as a frequent Airbnb traveller. I love Airbnb because not only does it make travelling more affordable but it also allows you to stay off the beaten track. Staying with a local or in your own cottage is far more unique than staying in a generic hotel you could find anywhere in the world. Use the map below to search for the perfect Airbnb stay within walking or driving distance of Revel.
I hope you have a great time in Revèl France should you visit. I am not sponsored by the French Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel.
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Thanks very much! Stay safe & keep Progressing! The Wondering Englishman.