Enjoying the spoils of France – We love French markets!
Whether a first-timer to France or a repeat “offender”, France will always be a good idea. and not just Paris as the saying goes. There is just something about France that gets to you and maybe you’ve dreamt of calling it home for a little while. Why not?
I have been blessed to live in at least 4 different places in France and every time, being the food lover that I am, I have been close to fresh food markets. From Paris to the Loire region, & the Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitanie). The French are spoiled, particularly when it comes to food.
When I was still living in Paris, ours was a popular landing pad for countless guests embarking on their European journey. It seemed only natural that one of the stops on our tour de Paris would include a visit to my nearby market which I have to admit I took for granted. Having my friends and family look wide-eyed at me and say, “Is this stuff for real?” “How are the tomatoes so red?” “Look at how fresh and pretty everything looks!”, was always a great feeling. After so many years of living in France, somehow I was convinced that they had always looked that way. Boy, had I forgotten.
Tourists can’t help but stop and take photos as they pass by the markets. It is just too surreal for some. I always thought this was funny – well I guess not always because when I was a student in Paris some years back, I too was snapping away taking photos of peaches, plums, melons, grapes, tomatoes, fish, cheese, and much more. They were like those shiny magazine covers – photos you could almost eat.
While now living in rural France, I’m more inclined to group my shopping trips to save on gas or foot power, it goes without saying that, it is much easier for me to think I’ll just pop out for a baguette at my local boulangerie or grab some juicy fruits (in-season), that I know will taste as good as they look.
After my first stay in Paris, I returned to New York and desperately wanted to continue the tradition of fresh produce, fresh bread, and, great cheese. Not impossible but a challenge indeed with a rather hefty price tag to boot. Sure there are farmers’ markets and there is always Whole Foods but never did I realize just how blessed I am with selection and the option of “food snobbery” than when a simple quest for a croissant for my son’s breakfast in Brooklyn, set me back something like $7! The scandal! All I kept thinking was, “I miss France!” You’re better off taking a croissant baking class in Paris and then returning home to wow your family and friends with some great viennoiserie.
.But without even comparing France to my former home in New York, I’ve even found that traveling around Europe did not necessarily produce the same kind of food-loving joy when it came to fresh food. I always admired the markets in Barcelona and Rome, but now I think I’ve become so accustomed to French markets that I don’t find them quite as exciting. It probably has a lot to do with knowing how to understand the French food markets more than anything; did I mention that I’m a food snob?
Let’s not even get into the organic options. Particularly in Occitanie (formerly Languedoc), as I can’t really speak for many others, organic food and wine production is a big deal. Many of the wineries that we think are well worth the visit, produce organic wines.
In the Pays d’Uzès we have a farmer’s market almost every day. Just one of those things you are likely to miss after returning home from a trip to France. While I have not visited all the markets, we do enjoy taking visitors to the markets in Uzès (on Wednesdays and Saturdays), as well as Saint Quentin-la-Poterie (on Tuesdays & Fridays), during a Week in Uzes. Our friends have now even started a Sunday market in Montaren with produce fresh from their small organic farm. Nîmes which is only 35 minutes away from us also has not only a covered market (Les Halles de Nîmes), which is open 7 days a week (in the mornings) and which I hear will soon also be open Saturday afternoons, is home to several outdoor markets as well. The same goes for Avignon. While unlike living in a major city we do need to hop in the car to head out to most of these wonderful places, we can still consider ourselves lucky.
A visit to France should definitely include a market visit. I would venture to say, no matter where you are in the world if you are lucky to come across a fresh food market, it’s worth jumping out of the car, bus, or train to check it out. We think markets are so important that we always incorporate a market visit into all our culinary tours.
Here’s a list that though long is still not complete, to help you plan your market visits in and around Uzès. As a general rule (even if they say they start earlier, the earliest you can hope to find everyone ready for market day, would be about 8 am. Discover the Breakfast at the Provençal Market to get a feel of what goes on while we are still asleep.
Le Pays d’Uzes
Tuesdays – Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie – Place du Marché (producers’ market)
Wednesdays – Uzès – Place aux herbes (producers’ market)
Fridays – Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie (larger than the Tuesday market and includes ready-to-eat foods) – Place du Marché
Fridays – Garrigue Sainte-Eulalie – Place de la Mairie
Saturdays – Uzès – over 200 vendors of everything from food to clothing and flowers – Place aux Herbes and all along the Esplanade and the circular boulevard around Uzès.
After indulging in some market goodness, why don’t you head down to the Vallée de l’Eure to enjoy a tranquil picnic in the park?
Le Pays du Pont du Gard
Tuesdays – Castillon-du-Gard 9 am till 1 pm
Tuesdays – Saint-Hilaire-d’Ozilhan 8 am till 1 pm
Fridays – Remoulin – Place de la Madone 8 am till 1 pm
Saturdays – Vers-Pont-du-Gard 7 am till 1 pm
Les Halles de Nîmes – rue Général Perrier – Nîmes. Our Week in Uzès students (and a few private class participants), have had the pleasure of touring and shopping in this market with us for the last few years. Open 7 days a week from about 7 am till 1 pm enjoy everything from butchers to bread makers, olive vendors, an MOF (Meilleurs ouvrier de France) cheesemonger, and even restaurant counters. A must-visit if you haven’t already discovered it. Coming soon! The Les Halles Market will soon be open on Saturday afternoons.
Marché de Valdegour – Zup Nord – Promenade Newton – Nîmes. Tuesdays 7:30 am until 1 pm. More than just food vendors
Marché du Chemin Bas – Chemin du Bas d’Avignon. Tuesdays from 7 am till 1 pm. more than just food vendors
Marché de Nîmes Ouest – Place Debussy Nîmes. Wednesdays 7 am till 1 pm. Not just food stalls.
Marché du Mas de Mingue – Mas de Mingue – Nîmes. Vegetables, a bazar & spices. Thursdays 7 am till 1 pm
Marché Jean Jaurès – Boulevard Jean Jaurès – Nîmes. Every Friday. A producer’s market and flea market. Fridays from 7 am till 1 pm.
Marché de Beausoleil – 5c rue Guynemer – Nîmes. Saturdays from 8 am till 1 pm. Not just food stalls.
And for something a little different in Nîmes, why not visit Le Mas des Agricultures which opened in 2019. A supermarket constructed by the chambre de commerce des agriculture with the investment of the local farmers who deliver their goods to aliment the shelves, this space resembles a modern warehouse more than a grocery store. They are really trying to put local farmers and winemakers (you have got to check out their wine selection), in the forefront. It is open every day from 8:30 am till 7:30 pm, Sundays from 9 am till 12:30 pm. Coming soon! Eat-in options, a butcher & cheese are on their way to this fabulous market space.
Weekly markets in Avignon take place throughout the city from 8 am till 1 pm at the following locations:
Montfavet – Place de l’Église
Trillade – Avenue de la trillade
Monclar – Place de la Méditerranée
Rocade – next to the église Jean XXIII and in front of the town hall Annexe sud Rocade
Saint-Jean – Avenue Wetzlar
Monclar – place de la Méditerranéee and Ave Monclar
Pont des Deux Eaux, in front of the shopping center
Montfavet – Place de l’Église. Friday evenings from 5 pm till 8 pm
Inside the Chabran (préfecture) garden boulevard Limbert
Marché avenue Pierre de Coubertin (Saint-Chamand)
Mondays evening from April 4th – Producers’ market des allées de l’Oulle
Friday evenings from March 25th, Producers’ market de Montfavet
And of course, no visit to Avignon is complete without a visit to Les Halles d’Avignon. The edifice alone values a pass-by. Open 6 days a week from 6 am – 1:30 pm (2:30 pm on Saturdays); closed on Mondays.
The village of Sommière which is about 50 minutes drive from Uzès is a lovely place to visit especially on a Saturday when the streets are alive of market-goers. The sommières market is open year-round Saturday mornings. In July and August, you can also enjoy the Wednesday evening market.
Take a stroll through the covered market in Alès, Les Halles de l’Abbaye is open from Monday through Saturday from 7 am till 2 pm. While not having quite as many stalls as the Halles in Nîmes, you will find all the essentials for perfect market outings