Fay-sur-Lignon: a new stop at Merchants

It’s rare to find a bar-restaurant with such an atypical name. A name that has never changed since its founding has existed for more than a century, in Fay-sur-Lignon, at an altitude of almost 1,200 meters above sea level. A name that also recalls the tradition of the cattle and horse-raising lands in Vivarais-Lignon: “Les Négociants”.

Looking forward to returning to Haute-Loire

First run by the Debard-Chaussinand family (whose names are still engraved on the façade), then by the Ladreyt couple for 36 years, it was in May 2001, that Sylvie and Christophe Guérin moved to a the name was formerly “Fay-le-Froid”. He is from Sainte-Sigolène, she is from Mazet-Saint-Voy. It was in Drôme, however, that they endured, by taking over the management of a hotel-restaurant in Saint-Vallier. But the Haute-Loire’s appeal is stronger.
“We really want to return to this division. After several visits, we fell in love with this establishment,” said Sylvie. They moved to Fay-sur-Lignon in May 2001. And for more than 20 years, they have carefully preserved the name of the sign, until the couple’s name was engraved on the storefront when they redone the facade. there five years ago. . “There are a lot of fairs, markets, with animals here. So it was negotiated around a cannon,” summarized Sylvie.

It’s always been a hostel here.

Over a century ago, the original building originally housed the Hôtel Fargier, which also serves as a cafe, as evidenced by an old postcard of the town of Fay. Les Négociants has maintained this spirit of fairness throughout the years. On a fixed date of October 20, a large and traditional horse fair brings Fay-sur-Lignon to life. Even as the number of manes on display in the fair has decreased over time, the event remains a must for many breeders and buyers from all over the region. And the restaurant-bar Négociants is undoubtedly the best located on the square. Located upstairs, the dining room’s windows offer unobstructed views of the entire fairgrounds. Sausages and stews are provided throughout the day to breeders, customers and hundreds of fair visitors. “It’s our biggest day of the year! »

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The rest of the time, life in Fay-sur-Lignon is calmer, but the town remains a very popular place to go, between Haute-Loire and Ardèche.
A group of passing customers also had their habits in Fay. “The first year we took over, we did the hotel. But we only have people for two months a year. And then the old rooms, with the carpet on the walls and the old floorboards… They’re no longer up to standard, they’re going to have to redo everything… “So very quickly, the couple decided plan to stop working as a hotel, to convert rooms in their apartment, to focus on the restaurant business.
The bar, in a village like Fay-sur-Lignon, also has its followers. Many old people from the highlands come here to drink wine in the morning. At noon, the restaurant is usually full of traditional and hearty dishes, prepared by Christophe, who made the establishment famous far beyond the area. Especially since the bar-restaurant is open all year round. Sylvie admitted: “Since Covid and the prisons, we decided to close on Mondays. Previously, the bar-restaurant was open seven days a week, and when the weather was nice, their daughter Lola also came to lend a hand.

A family problem

Every year, the couple do renovation work of the house. Piece by piece. Although the tables and chairs are old, they still have a bit of nostalgia, now they have been changed. An outdoor terrace, for sunny days, has also been fitted, with spectacular views of “Les Roches”, the peak directly opposite, at 1,380 meters above sea level.

This summer, the relative freshness found at this altitude attracts many people. There are a lot of tourists passing through town and they appreciate a “fresh” respite in town. The Les Négociants bar-restaurant remains one of the last cafes in town. Café du Commerce closed five years ago and Café de la Fontaine, which was once closed, reopens in the spring and is called Le QG. The delights of Mézenc, below and across the square, also draw people in. “It must be admitted that businesses are maintained in Fay. »
This summer, summer weather stands in contrast to the sometimes much more difficult climatic conditions that the inhabitants of the highlands may encounter. With snow and ice caves lasting several days each year, even if the harshness of winter today is nothing compared to last year, the atmosphere changes in the village. “So when it’s hot and snowy, you have to be patient! But the locals know that well. »

Photography passion

On the walls of the dining room and on the small shelves, Sylvie’s first love also appeared: photography. Before turning to restoration, she was a photographer and worked for three years with Janine Trévis, Ponot portrait painter. This passion still intact now adorns the walls of the restaurant with black and white photographs. Sylvie did everything herself: developing the film, printing on paper. “Three years ago, I was digital. But the rendering is not the same. That’s still not it…” she noted.
The “grain”, clearly visible on his portraits or winter landscapes, recalls the charms of last year. Several cameras (including his first, an Olympus OM 2) were placed in the room because so many vestiges of life years ago still abound in a village like Fay-sur -Lignon. Sylvie’s only regret, as it seems paradoxical: “It was the day of the horse fair, we were so caught up in the restaurant with the world that I was never able to take a picture of the day. there! »

Lionel Ciochetto


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