On Monday morning we headed towards Moissac, another one of the stops on the Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle. On the way we made a brief stop in Castelsarrasin, which has a large church at the entrance to the town. Unfortunately, a big renovation project was taking place all around the church, which made it difficult to get a good unobstructed view. The town itself was also a bit down on its heels, so after a short stroll we left and drove to Moissac.
Moissac, which is on a canal and also on the Tarn River, is a lively town, although Monday was closing day for most shops. But the abbaye that the town is known for was open to visitors, and we spent some time there. The Abbaye Saint Pierre is almost 1,000 years old, and includes a massive cathedral and an incredibly well preserved cloister. The cloister has 76 columns surrounding a courtyard, with different carved figures on each column.
On the way back from Moissac we made a short detour to the tiny village of Le Pin, where there is a magnificent chateau, Chateau Saint Roch. The chateau isn't open to the public, and is surrounded by hedges and trees, but since there were no leaves on the trees yet, we could at least get a decent view of the chateau.
The next day was market day in the nearby town of Valence d'Agen. Although Valence is only a modest-sized town, the market was enormous, spilling out from the center and sprawling all over the town. There were vendors of every kind of food product imaginable, as well as the usual cloth, clothing and housewares stalls. We bought goat cheese from a couple of local producers, a whole duck from a farm for roasting, foie gras, vegetables, and the local AOC prunes – Pruneaux d'Agen – to have with the duck. We also picked up some pastries from a patisserie in town, and a bottle of Cotes de Brulhois wine. There is not a great deal of wine produced in the immediate area, and no AOC's; Cotes de Brulhois is a small VDQS appellation with just a few producers. The principal grapes of the Brulhois wines are Tannat, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France and Merlot; no white wine is made in the appellation. After leaving Valence we went back to Auvillar, where we had lunch, including a platter of cheeses that we had just picked up, on our patio.