Markets are a way of life for the French and if you wish you could visit one on most days of your holiday. Do try and visit at least one while you are on holiday as it is such a good way to immerse yourself and the family in French culture.. Markets can be addictive! They are great places for buying fresh produce, especially fruit and vegetables and, depending on location, for buying meat, fish and poultry. Look out for individual stall-holders who are locals selling their own produce – such as melons, eggs or strawberries. They are easily distinguishable because they only sell one type of produce, so you know it will be fresh – probably just harvested and thus likely to be cheaper and of a better quality.
Evening markets: we have observed these in certain areas during summer months and would recommend them as fun for the whole family to go to as they are something a little bit different, often with entertainment and food available. Look out for posters advertising them or enquire at the nearest tourist office to where you are staying to see if there are any nearby.
Sunday Markets: These are a real blessing if you have arrived on holiday on the Saturday. It is possible not only to buy fruit and vegetables but also cooked (hot) chickens which are delicious. Often you will have the choice between an ordinary chicken (le poulet) and a free range chicken (le poulet fermier). These are more expensive but are worth trying. Often the chickens are cooked with potatoes, making for a tasty and easy Sunday lunch. In some Sunday markets there are alternatives to chicken such as lamb or gammon, and it is possible to buy these meats by the slice.
Regional Specialities: Take the opportunity to sample the regional specialities on offer in the market with no obligation to buy, anything from foie gras in the Dordogne region to pineau (a cognac based aperitif) in the Poitou-Charente. Depending on the size of the market, many other things can be bought such as wine clothes, jewellery, toys and kitchenware. Our children hate supermarket shopping but enjoy the French markets because there is so much of interest for them to see. They are also excellent places for them to spend some of their pocket money and gives them the opportunity to try out some French!! It is possible to determine your local market days before you leave for your holiday (follow the links on the main menu bar above). Most markets will close at lunchtime.
France also has a wide variety of specialist regional markets usually devoted to a single produce – for example there are truffle markets in the Dordogne and garlic markets in Gascony. For those interested in antiques/brocante Isle-sur-Sorgue in Provence is a must.
Our favourite food and wine in France: