Possibly the most popular outing made from guests staying at Eco-Gites of Lenault is a trip to one of our local markets. France is well know for it's weekly markets and Normandy is no exception. Regular Twitter and Facebook followers will probably already know that I go to one of our local markets most weeks and have been known to come back with chickens even when I only went to meet a friend for coffee! At least so far I have resisted the rabbits:
So what can I tell you about our local markets?
There will be a market every day somewhere locally as this list shows
Our most local ones are:
Mon - Tinchebray
Tues - Thury Harcourt
Wed - Villers Bocage, Flers
Thurs - Condé-sur-Noireau
Fri - Vire
Sat - Aunay-sur-Odon
Sun - Caen
They generally run from 9am to 12 noon, sometimes up to 1pm.
Even the smallest of towns will often have a little weekly market.
The markets are open all year come rain or shine although they are a bit quieter in the winter months and a few stall owners will not brave the colder months. Most are open air but a few are (partly) under cover eg Flers.
The bigger markets will be in the town centre which will be closed to vehicles.
These larger markets will have stalls selling a great range of things including:
- Fruit and Veg
- Meats - cooked, processed and raw (sometimes even horse meat)
- Clothes, shoes and accessories
- Music and games
- Loom bands - well until the next craze comes along!
- Chainsaw other other gardening tools
- Poultry and other small animals
- Double Glazing!
- Plants, flowers and vegetable seedlings
- Bread and cakes
- Wine and/or cider
- Organic produce
The fruit and veg that you buy at a market will be very seasonal (no peaches in December or parsnips in July) and much of it will be very local. There is however one thing to be aware of. Although France uses the metric system, many fruit and veg stall owners will sell their produce in livres or pounds. If at first you think the price of something is wonderfully low, just check how much you are getting - a livre (approx 500g) or a kilo!
Most of the larger stalls are commercial businesses. There will often also be a corner of the market for local residents to set up a table and sell their excess garden and farm produce. These tend to be older residents and what they sell is invariably seasonal and usually very varied. There is no such thing as a typical seller here but as an example a summer table from this section may well be selling a couple of chickens, a few pots of jam, some beans, a bag or two of potatoes and some cut flowers.
There will often also be a van or two selling crêpes and or take-away food such as paella, couscous or pizzas ... so there should be no need to get a pizza from the wall on market day!
What you will also find is how busy the markets are - many residents will buy from them on a regular basis and when they have their shopping they will pass the time meeting friends and chatting. French markets are a very sociable place and certainly not somewhere you should try and rush around.
As I said, I try to go to the market at Condé-sur-Noireau every week. I meet up with a friend, we drink coffee and wander round buying our wares and enjoying the atmosphere. I buy a lot of my vegetable seedlings and as a regular I now often find a few extra plants thrown in for free. I also did well at one of the fruit and vegetable stalls last week who, at the end of the day, were selling off melons at a reduced price. 3 large melons for 4€ was a great bargain and the seller was happy to chose those of different ripeness so I could make them last over the next few days. That is the kind of service you will get at French markets.
Do you like to visit French markets and if so what do you like to shop for?
|Winter flowers at Condé-sur-Noireau market|