I woke in the early hours wondering why there were disco lights shining through the bedroom window at 4am. Slowly it dawned on me that I couldn’t hear any music, and that I was in fact witnessing lighting striking over the Pyrenees in the distance. I do love a good lightning display. It’s the thunder that’s the scary bit.

Whilst I hate shopping in department stores and even supermarkets, I do appreciate a proper market, and Sunday is Esperaza’s main market day. The stallholders started setting up at 6am, and when we could no longer contain our excitement, we headed out to investigate the town’s social engagement of the week. Oh my. Market heaven. Fair enough there were a few tourist tat stalls, but otherwise it was full of fresh fruit and veg, cheese from all over the region, wine, fresh and processed meat, fish, and cakes. By the time we found the gluten free stall I was in heaven. They’d even bussed tourists in from neighbouring towns – I heard accents from as far afield as Australia and Ireland, and talked with British expat stallholders selling honey and cupcakes.

We filled our bag with produce, enjoyed coffee and chai latte from one of the refreshment stalls, and headed home feeling like locals. But I couldn’t resist sneaking out again to buy lunch, and returned with a huge rotisserie chicken and caramelised garlic and thyme potatoes. There was even enough for lunch the following day. Now we know why Saturday night was so quiet – everyone was gearing up for this, and for making the most of a sunny Sunday. Beats sitting in a pub watching footy. Well it does in my mind anyhow.

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After our post Sunday lunch nap we donned our walking shoes and headed west of Esperaza to explore the second half of the Dinosaur Trail – up onto the ridge, down into Campagne-sur-Aude, past the Limoux  dinosaur wine factory, and back along the River Aude. It was ten degrees cooler that it’s been most days, making for a very pleasant walk. We even saw some other walkers, confirming that no one in their right minds walks when it’s any hotter! Ah well. Lessons learned.

Dinner was followed by a stroll over to yet another festival – this time a wine and paella one, complete with brass band, on the opposite side of the town square. We didn’t go in as neither of us are fans of what I’d called ‘oompah’ music, but it was interesting to watch the huge vats of food being prepared. That is until rain literally stopped play sadly. Still, at least it meant that I wouldn’t be kept awake by drunken trombonists!

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