Le Marché, the market

I love markets, especially food markets!

Almost every French town has a market and a market day.  Some are indoor markets using old halls, many are typical outdoor markets with stands. Some are historically famous and date back hundreds of years.

Market trends

Most markets are very busy and continue to thrive, however, in some towns, the spread and incrustation of the powerful supermarkets have had a detrimental effect and the market stands have dwindled.

To encourage the return of the markets a  few towns have introduced “evening markets”, “local producers”, “organic” or other themed ideas, attempting to encourage the market-goers to return to the stands.

Which days of the week are decided by the “Marie”, the town hall.  In some places, this can be once, twice or even daily. The market can be just food produce or clothes or a mixture of products and produce.

Markets begin early in the morning and they will close up just after midday.

Market day in Beaune
Saturday market in the old market town Beaune, Burgundy

Food markets

My favourite is the food market, there is always an incredible mixture of flavours, colours and cultures.

This is especially true when you head towards the south of France. The fruit and vegetables are proudly stacked by the sellers, plates are often filled with chucks and slices to taste.

South of France food market
South of France food market

When you’re travelling in the South of France, try to visit the large markets in the coastal towns, they are bustling with life and have a very friendly atmosphere. So, just take your time and enjoy a drink in a nearby café.

Always Fresh

Fresh fish market stand
Fresh fish market stand

The fishmongers lay fresh squid “encornet”, prawns “crevettes”,  cod “morue”, sardines and much other fish and shellfish on stacks of ice. If you’re on the coast, many of the fish will have been caught locally.

Steaming hot ratatouille
Ratatouille, the word that Engish speakers cannot pronounce

There are huge pans bubbling with freshly made “ratatouille” (an impossible word for anglophones to pronounce without being laughed at).

Spices and herbs
Spices and herbs

You’ll find spices and herbs from all over the world, these stands are always spectacular with arrays of colour and the odours will tantalize your nose.

Purple garlic from the Tarn
Purple garlic

You see many varieties of garlic and often the famous Purple garlic from the very beautiful Tarn countryside in the Midi-Pyrénées.

Local farmers display goats cheese in order of fresh to dry, if he offers you some to taste, then please do. You’ll see fresh bread, roasting chickens and of course sweets and chocolate stands.


The French Saucisson will surprise you with all the different shapes and tastes. There are many different recipes using pork, duck wild boar and other unusual meats.

Others with mushrooms, truffles or spices. Once again if the seller is offering you a piece to taste, please do.

As you walk around the streets you can but become hungry as your mouth waters.

Haberdashery and more

Generally, the fresh produce is in one section whilst the clothes, hardware and other items are in another area.

Hand crafted baskets

If you’re looking for woven shopping baskets, dresses, jeans, shoes, frying pans, cutlery, and bed linen, you’re sure to find something that suits you on one of the stands.

There is always a stand with a keen seller talking to a small crowd about a magical vegetable knife or ever-clean windows. He’ll carefully spin his web, cutting the price and adding more and something free. Being a salesman starts here.

As you walk around, you’ll notice people taking the time to talk to each other. It’s a meeting point, a place of social interaction.  The market is a place to talk to other people, a place where you can argue and haggle and a place to express yourself.

Photo gallery from the markets