Today and tomorrow is the “Foire aux fromages” in Laruns. We want to visit it, and based on the weather forecast, we go today. It’s only 80 km but according to Google, it will take us 1,5 hours. Because Laruns is located at the foot of the Pyrenees with only small roads leading up there.
Shuttle to the fair
It actually takes us 2 hours to get there, because we regularly stop to take pictures, and there are quite a lot of tractors on the road to slow us down. We arrive at ten to eleven and are directed to a big improvised parking lot just outside the village. There’s a free shuttle bus service that takes visitors from the parking lot to the fair, and one of them arrives just as we get out of the car.
As we rush over to catch it, Molly decides that now is the time to poo. She’s quick about it and as I scoop it up in a plastic bag, a lady compliments the action. She looks at me approvingly, saying that not many people clean up after their dog. I just smile at her and drop the bag of poo in a trash can, and we make it in time to the shuttle bus.
It drops us off a couple of minutes later at the edge of the fair. We quickly walk past all the stalls there and head for the center of the village. Where we arrive just in time for the start of a combined demonstration of cheese making and sheep shearing.
A demonstration of cheese making and sheep shearing
It is very well organised. Up on a stage, one man demonstrates how he makes cheese while another comments to explain it to the public. No less than three camera’s record it, and there is a live feed to a big screen. A large crowd gathers in no time at all, so the big screen is a very good idea.
Once the cheese making is underway, two men appear before the stage, each dragging a ewe with them. They deposit the animals on the ground and start clipping their coats with old fashioned clippers. The animals don’t fight or fuss, on the contrary. They let themselves be handled by the men, who ply them in any which directory to get at their coats of wool. Obviously, this isn’t the first time they are being clipped out of their coats, and they are quite at ease with their handlers.
The man on the stage creates a 5 kg cheese that will have to be stored under perfect circumstances for some time, before it can be eaten or sold. As the coats of both sheep are on the ground and the demonstrations are over, the crowd dissipates.
Try before you buy
Now we start to seriously explore the market. There are at least a dozen cheese stalls and we go round sampling everywhere. Each stall has its own cheese with its own particular taste. We end up buying three different cheeses at three different stalls based upon our preferences. Fortunately for us, our taste buds are very much in sync and we agree on what we like and dislike most of the time.
Music and dance
There is a folklore group from Saragossa providing entertainment. They make music and there are a dozen dancers. As they dance, they invite people to join them and that makes for a really nice ambiance.
There’s another group of musicians who walk past us playing piccolo’s (amongst other instruments), and this is too much for Molly.
She’s been a real trooper, taking all the new experiences in stride, but the high pitched sound of the flutes makes her very uncomfortable. She tries to flee but can’t go far because she’s on the leash. I understand her discomfort, so I follow her and she ends up sitting down between the feet of a stranger.
I excuse Molly and explain to the man that she doesn’t like the piccolo’s. He’s very friendly and has no problem with her presence at his feet. And when the band has moved on, he hands me a small packet of dog food. For he turns out to be the sales person of the next stall, selling cat- and dog food 🙂
As we walk back to the car, the sky is starting to cloud over. Once in the car and on our way home, we see the clouds rolling in over the mountains. It’s beautiful and impressive, but we’re grateful they didn’t come earlier.