If like us, you enjoy having as many authentic experiences as possible when travelling. Enjoy the love of cooking, eating and more importantly searching out fresh local ingredients. Then searching for a local market which is not hard to find in France will be on your list of things to do.
In many countries, the formation of Farmers Markets has come and gone whereas in France the tradition did not need to be revived as they have always been a part of life in France.
Which is an excellent excuse for us while exploring a new city to centre a few visits to good quality local food market. Then we are able to search out and buy the freshest and tastier samples that are available from the local producers.
To be honest, I have lost count of how many wonderful enticing food markets we have visited while housesitting and exploring around France. It was hard to choose just three.
These three markets were more prominent in my memory vault and ones that you may enjoy putting on your “must-see-and-experience” list while travelling around France.
THE COVERED MARKET OF COLMAR
It was not only the food we sought when visiting the Colmar Market. The hall that housed the marked was inaugurated in 1865, it’s designed by architect Louis-Michel Boltz, who happens to also be the architect of the municipal theatre of Colmar (1849).
Classed as a real island, due to the covered market been surrounded by three streets and the Lauch, which allowed market gardeners to bring their products directly in flat-bottomed boats. The choice of materials used: bricks, iron and cast iron, testifies to the passage from Colmar to the industrial era. Since it was restored in 2010, the Colmar indoor market has once again the home to a permanent market, supplemented by stands outside every Thursday.
We left with our arms full of food to last a week and not our last few days. C’est la vie.
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, Lyon
If you asked most producers of markets they would loudly proclaim to be the winner of French gastro delights. Though really it is Lyon that really is a capital that deserves this title. Until such time we find another more worthy of that title.
At Les Halles de Lyon, the produce is set out in such a dazzling way that we could not come away without overindulging, with an array of cheeses, olives, meats and bread to name a few products that we brought.
We found ourselves soaking up the sights, smells and sounds as we meandered among no fewer than 65 stalls. Selling numerous regional foodstuffs in what is the largest covered market in France. The market is also named after Lyon’s most celebrated chef.
As you can imagine it is a must-see place to savour. For this reason, when we chose to go, it was on a Thursday and Saturday during the morning. Monday’s the market is closed.
We were spoilt for choice at Les Halles de Lyon if we had to choose one item among the bounteous produce on offer, then, of course, it would have to be cheese. Not any ordinary variety mind you, we chose a large slice of the supremely gooey St Marcellin cheese, something of a star among stars in this celebrated home of Lyonnaise gastronomy.
Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux
What a treat it was for us to have the luxury of walking down early on a few mornings to Marché des Capucins during the two weeks we were based in Bordeaux. This market has been dubbed “The Belly of Bordeaux” which is the largest market in the capital of the great wine-growing region.
Though most of you would find it easy to resist some of the fresh oysters and a spot of wine to wash them down. I did not, the Squire chose something else as oysters are not his first choice for a treat, the wine, on the other hand, was not resisted. Then it was a park bench to watch the world go by in this Bordelaise food heaven.
This market is not just for the locals as its a daily shopping institution for the city’s locals, Bordeaux’s restaurateurs and chefs also shop there. So we couldn’t offer anyone a more resounding accolade than that.
The Capucins market building itself does not take away your attention from the available products as it is unlike many older food markets where charming old architecture takes equal billing with the food on sale.
There are more than enough architectural buildings around the city to visit after you have visited the market’s excellent fishmongers, wine sellers, butchers, florists, bakers, fruiterers and grocers. It was such a lively and friendly destination.
For a different pace to our stay, we chose the more sedate weekly market along the city quays, which on our stay had approximately 60 stalls. Then after buying a few picnic items, we had a leisurely stroll along the river and caught the ferry to the other side, to sit underneath a tree in temperatures that were rather too hot to walk in.
There you have it, three of our favourite markets, though to be fair it was very hard to say what was our most favourite French Marché. As most are worth the effort to find and to lose yourself in sampling the sumptuous food.
If you are unable to actually go to France, nevermind as there are a few innovative folk that have brought France to a place near you. Let me know where your favourite market is located.
United Kingdom France at Home – market locator
New Zealand – La Cigale French Market