Bursting with colour and freshness, French markets are fun to visit. Linger and browse; appreciate the quality of seasonal and regional produce, be it artisan cheese, fresh flowers or a simple lettuce.

The last few days had brought quite heavy downpours so today’s market was the quietest I have experienced, though advantageously this meant an even slower pace to look and discuss.

As there are often several stalls selling similar articles I like to wander before buying, comparing prices and compiling imaginary menus. Today was also a little different for another reason: I was alone – husband away on business and children away on school trips. With what initially seemed an empty and daunting time quickly transformed into a week of Foodie indulgence with no tastes to cater other than mine.

The French consume enormous quantities of cheese, though with slightly different etiquette than British habits – a little cheese before dessert and it is certainly not de rigor to pass the cheese plate around the table several times! Newly arrived in France, it can be difficult to know where to begin choosing, my system being either a familiar name or simply one which looked pretty, a plan I would fall back on today.

Our family favourite is the hard Comté and should be an easy choice, though my son refuses any apart from Vieux (aged), luckily not yet discovering the aromatic diversity from different villages and ageing methods. Produced in Franche-Comté in the heart of the Jura Mountains, Comté is aged for at least 4 months in a cheese cellar then the maturing period can last between 6 – 18 months, though at Limoux market I bought some which had aged for 24 months, developing a rich, nutty, delicious flavour.

The salad leaves I bought were brimming with vitality so I planned simply to prepare a warm goat’s cheese salad for dinner, using the Walnut Salad recipe to support thin baguette slices topped with discs of creamy goat’s cheese then toasted. By far the simplest means to achieve this was to explain my dish to the Fromager who in turn selected a perfectly ripe hand-made Crottin.

Though obviously weighed down by quite sufficient cheese for one, I couldn’t resist one further purchase: Feuille de Chevre, a goat’s cheese in the shape of a maple leaf.

Lunch would be an equally simple affair of a French-style pizza, which is actually a crisp, buttery pastry shell filled with onion and tomato and topped with a slice of tomato and goat’s cheese, garnished by anchovies and olives – all this packed into one tiny space. Returning home there would be nothing more to do than unwrap and enjoy along with by a handful of juicy fat green olives.

With a crispy baguette in my basket I somehow found myself buying a beautifully fresh bulb of pink garlic.

My friends at La Coumeto in Bouisse preserve freshly picked garlic to make a delicious accompaniment to aperitifs: skin, blanch and drain the garlic then pack into sterilized jars. To the jar add a solution of 3 parts olive oil to 1 part white wine vinegar, flavoured with dried chilli flakes or herbs de Provence, if you wish. Seal and store for a couple of weeks to allow the flavours to develop and mature.

Time to head home to enjoy good food in tranquility though I did have time to sneak into my favourite bakery to buy dessert………