Markets are such an intrinsic part of French life that almost every town and many a village will have a regular market, on one day a week. As well as regular markets, you should also keep an eye out for foires – monthly markets that are larger than the weekly ones, with a greater number of traders and choice of products and sometimes even amusements such as fairground rides.
The produce is superb. There will always be a stall selling the most delicious looking cheeses. Then there are the fresh fish stalls with a vast array of seafood. Locally baked bread is also very good. Here are a few of our local ones.
This market has the usual excellent fresh produce, all housed under a dramatic shell-shaped building, a striking example of modernist architecture built during the town’s 1950s reconstruction. The market is open seven days a week from 7am-1pm but it’s best to get there early– before 10am – to see it at its bustling best as locals come to buy not just fresh fruit and vegetables but also the freshest catch of the day. In winter months from end September to April the market is closed on a Monday. This is my favourite market and well worth a visit. Some of the produce supplied to guests is sourced from this market.
Market days in Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, comprise of a weekly market on Sunday and Mondays, and a seasonal market in the summer all days excluding Thursdays.
Gémozac has a local market on Friday morning from 8am to 13pm, where butchers congregate, gardeners, fishmongers and a cheese stall. It includes all the seasonal products of the region.
Every third Friday of the month the fair Gémozac is held which extends the traditional Friday morning market.
A small town not far away with a local market on Tuesday, Saturday and Sundays.
On Saturday mornings the largest market in Saintes takes place on the oblong and atmospheric Place St Pierre in the centre of town. Over 120 people sell their wares. This runs from 08:00am to 13:00pm both indoors and outdoors and is also on Wednesday mornings when it’s not as large.
The next-largest market of the week – with about 90 vendors – is the Saint Pallais market. This takes place on Sundays from 08:00am to 13:00pm on the other side of the river at Place St Pallais. Also on Thursdays on a lesser scale (50-60 stalls).
On Thursdays, it’s the turn of the Bellevue Market that takes place at Place des Câtives. Some say that this one is great for bargains, being located in a real local no-frills district of the town where tourists wouldn’t normally go.
In addition to all that, the first Monday of every month hosts a foire or a fair on the wide streets of Saintes, such as Cours Reverseaux.