Jun 23, 2017

The Great French Markets

A visit to French markets is one of the most agreeable ways to discover the richness of France's gastronomic treasures.

From gorgeous hill-top villages to famous gourmet cities, like Bordeaux and Lyons, there are thousands of colourful markets dotted all over France, and market day is the best time to experience the unique French way of living.

Most rural markets are established in stunning locations in the old historic centre of the town. Local farmers set up their stalls in the central square of the village to sell the freshest seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruits ripened to perfection ready to consume.

Other artisans, like the cheese makers and fishmongers sell their goods from a specially equipped refrigerated truck, travelling during the week to a different village every day.



French markets offer amazing take-away food ideal for a picnic. The charcutier is the shop to buy freshly prepared salads, delicious small goods like patés, hams, terrines, salami and excellent spit roast meat and poultry of all manner.

Nearly always you'll find a good boulangerie (bakery) and pâtisserie around the village market square, as well as cafés with an outdoor terrace to soak in the atmosphere. This is usually my first stop. Medium to large sized towns have a permanent covered market called les halles open 6 days a week.

On a recent Scenic cruise on the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in the beautiful Bordeaux region it was a joy to be taken by the cruise chef to the historic Marché des Capucins (Capucins Market) in Bordeaux which has been operating since 1749.

The whole region is extremely fertile and the vegetables looked amazing. The local Mara des Bois strawberries are simply irresistible.

Markets are a window onto the finest and most unusual regional foods. The attractive coastal Arcachon market south west of Bordeaux is a perfect example, showing the best of the area's specialities. The oysters are amongst the tastiest in France. The local lamb is well featured and the famous small cannelé cakes looked perfect.

If you can't make it to rural France, Paris has more than sixty markets featuring the best of France. The oldest and one of the most charming is the covered Marché des Enfants Rouges operating since 1615.

Vive la France!

Article by Gabriel Gaté