Long before they were the fashionable accessory for all wannabe foodie destinations, the town and village markets of northern France stood firm against the advance of the chain store and the supermarché. In truth, they didn’t have to try too hard – when the produce is this good, there’s just no competition.
For the lucky people of Brittany, Normandy and Picardy, the weekly (or more frequent) market is no cynical tourist trap selling flown-in crafts and stale galettes. They’re a living link to the past, and a delicious conduit into the region’s fabulous, farm-fresh produce. Think gooey cheeses, crisp cider and salty oysters.
Practically every commune will have its market – Paris and the big cities have lots – so wherever you’re headed, take time to explore (and taste) the very best made-right-here produce. Because as we all know, from Camembert to Champagne, the quickest way into the soul of France is through its soil…
If you fancy a genuine taste of Northern France, then this market is the one for you. From traditional striped jerseys a la Jean-Paul Gaultier to delicious cheeses produced locally, via quirky discoveries such as confiture de lait (milk jam), exciting alternatives to the usual suspects await. Market day is Friday.
Our nearest parc: Le Ranolien
This Monday market is definitely one for the seafood lovers. Head here to grab some freshly caught fish, and crack open an oyster or two. In the summer months, show up early and local fishermen will even take you on a guided tour of the harbour. Treat yourself to a succulent crepe or galette once you are all done with your shopping.
Our nearest parc: L’Atlantique
Sample the eponymous cheese at this typically bustling Normandy market held in the centre of town every Monday. Pick from a selection of pains a l’ancienne (rustic breads) and quench your thirst with local cider or Calvados liquor, all whilst listening to a live brass band.
Our nearest parc: Chateau Le Brevedent
There’s more to this town than tapestries. La Place Saint Patrice is the place to head for Bayeux’ brilliant Saturday market. Especially if fine Normandy produce is your thing. So expect local cheese producers, Normandy cider and Calvados, soft fruit and organic veg from the land, and fabulously fresh oysters and shellfish from the sea. And, this being France, live poultry and rabbits too. It’s an ‘all human life is here’ sort of place, with bric-a-brac, books and vintage fashions too.
Our nearest parc: La Côte de Nacre
It’s always worth heading to this Monday morning market early as it tends to attract a lot of visitors. Food and drink, household furnishings, clothes, souvenirs – there’s not much you can’t find among the 120 stands spread over several streets. But the best produce doesn’t hang around!
Our nearest parc: La Bien Assise
If ever a town loved markets it’s the handsome Breton town of Quimper. At the heart of it all is the stunning covered market hall ‘Halles Saint-François’ (with a food market every day), but visit on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the large outdoor market and the Friday afternoon organic market in the historic Kerfeunteun quarter.
Our nearest parc: La Pointe St Giles
An absolute must if you’re in the area. Held three days a week over summer, this semi-covered market has been recognised as one of France’s monuments historiques (a national heritage site). On offer is an incredibly wide selection of spices and local produce, gaufres maison (homemade waffles) and caught-that-morning seafood.
Our nearest parc: Domaine de Drancourt
On every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, this market is made up of 100 stalls. You will find fantastic fresh fruit, locally grown vegetables, cheeses, charcuterie, crustaceans and shellfish – and there are plenty of stalls allowing you to snack as you go, too.
Our nearest parc: Camping du Golf
Every Thursday in July and August, the local tourist board organises a night market. Discover many local products and crafts, before enjoying a musical put on by one of the area’s theatre troupes. And if you happen to visit this market on the last Thursday of August, the local council will even buy you a drink! Salut!
Our nearest parc: La Grande Metairie
Le Food Market, Paris
Don’t have a big lunch if you put this market on your Parisian itinerary. This open-air market is all about celebrating street food and whether you fancy French, Moroccan, Mexican, Texan or vegan, you’re in luck. Running on the first and third Thursdays of each month, this relatively new attraction is gaining a reputation as being the destination for all things street, food and fun.
Our nearest parc: La Croix du Vieux Pont
Le Touquet pic, thanks to The Good Life, France
Le Food Market pic, thanks to HiP Paris