“There goes the baker with his tray like always…” I could almost hear Belle singing as I walked through the castle town of Najac; I’m convinced Beauty and the Beast was inspired by this idyllic French village (although there is some debate). Also one of the most beautiful villages in France, Najac is sure to enchant you with its cobblestone paths and castle views.
The Sunday sun beat down as we strolled past stall after stall from goat cheese to jewelry. Swantje, my roommate, and I ventured off while the rest of the group searched the farmer’s market. We stopped in a small épicerie to search for a postcard for me and to buy something to quench her thirst on this hot day.
Once they’d purchased fruits and vegetables for dinner and put them in the car, we set out for the castle. But we took our sweet time, meandering from boutiques to antiques and catching different views of the castle standing tall on its hill in the distance. Oh, and, of course, finding somewhere to place our point-and-shoot, setting the timer and hoping for a decent group picture. “Une autre, une autre,” Philipe chanted. Why we needed to set two point-and-shoots next to each other and to do three rounds of glamour shots, I’ll never know.
My flats got their day’s work in because this town is steep and hilly. Once we finally reached the entrance of the castle, we stopped at the gift shop to rest. Sipping on a can of Orangina, I sat on the step in the shade to cool off with the others. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take a castle tour for time’s sake, but the Aveyron Valley views on the way up were worth it.
Following the narrow cobblestone back to where we started, I saw several clothing items hanging outside a window. What a horrible store display with this wrinkly shirt and random stuff that doesn’t go together, I thought. Several steps later and a smidge embarrassed, I discovered this was wet laundry hanging out to dry. Way to go, Kristin.
The French take their time; Germans and Americans do not. That meant Swantje and I beat the others back and had time to rest and to see the church. Passing a large, overheated dog laying in front of the door to Église Saint-Jean de Najac, we entered into the cool, darkness with a kaleidoscope of brightness peeking in through its stained glass windows.
When I exited, I saw two words: glaces artisanales. I shouldn’t… I don’t need to spend more money, and we already have ice cream back home. This futile, internal convincing lasted less than a minute, and next thing I know, I’m walking out of the La Fée Gourmande with a scoop of chocolate and another of mint chip. When in France, eat fresh ice cream and eat it with a view.
This sleepy village may be small, but its charm is fit for a princess. Bon voyage!