VIVE LE FRENCH VILLAGE MARKET

Dressed and ready for market day

One of the things that I love about living in France is going to the village markets that take place all around us in every village of any size. Unfortunately our village is too small to have one, the only commerce being a Doctor’s Surgery. We did have a hairdresser for a while but she moved to a larger village about 5 kms down the road, and as we also don’t have a Boulanger (baker) anyway, we don’t really count as a true village. How can you consider yourself an important bourg if you have to walk more than 100 metres to get the morning baguette or croissant, or have the purple hair rinse revived?

Around us are some of the best markets in the region.

Ste Foy La Grande on Saturday morning is considered one of the prettiest in France, and where in summer you hear more English spoken than French. Cadillac, an old walled city, also has a great market on Saturday mornings, and as it is only 10 minutes away from us is somewhere we can catch up with local friends and neighbours. Creon on Wednesdays, Castillon La Bataille (where the last battle of the 100 years war was fought) on Monday mornings, Latresne on Sundays … the list is endless.

It is where you go for the best meats, fish, cheeses, flowers and fresh produce, and where you can get a real feel for French life, and also how life in France is changing over time.


When we first started coming to France about 30 years ago, the stalls were mainly made up of small family farm holders taking their home-grown produce to market. It changed with the seasons, and mum and dad who sat there with their baskets of potatoes one week, would be there with asparagus or tomatoes or plums or honey or jam another.
Today, just like the supermarkets, the stall-holders are mainly retailers whose goods come from all over the world … avocados and oranges from Israel, kiwifruit from New Zealand, bananas from Ecuador and Ivory Coast, and like the rest of the world if it needs any manufacturing it will have come from China.

With the growth of the North African immigrants to France, there has also been a big move towards the availability of African food … kefftas, tajines and couscous stands, as well as the globally ubiquitous trivialities like cheap wooden carvings and leather belts and handbags. These latter can be the most interesting, as in the haste to go to market, many have not been properly tanned, so when you put them away at home it is equivalent to putting a piece of steak in your sock drawer. We know of a few instances where people believed that some mysterious rodent had crawled in and died somewhere in their bedroom, only to realize that their black Prada-look-alike bag had turned green and grown mould.

Despite this the markets are still a wonderful palette of colours and noise and smells and movement, and over the time of living here, we have pinpointed where and when to go for our particular needs. Over the years we had chatted to the stallholders that we regularly frequented, but had always felt that we know them better than they knew us. We were proven wrong when Les Bleus beat the All Blacks during the last rugby world cup. As we did our usual rounds, every single stall holder remembered that we were Kiwis, and went out of their way to good naturedly remind us of our heritage.


The mom and pop stands still exist, though you do have to look for them, and having to wait to be able to buy local food in season, rather than having it shipped in packed in refrigerated containers for all year availability, just gives them a taste intensified by the wait and the expectation. It is worth the wait for local specialities like cepes mushrooms, black Perigord truffles, Gariguette strawberries and asparagus, which all have short seasons, but are taste sensations.

We have our own large vegetable garden (potager) and grow most of our produce ourselves these days, but even if we don’t actually need to buy anything, we can always find an excuse for a market visit at least once a week.

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9 Responses to VIVE LE FRENCH VILLAGE MARKET

  1. Frank Liebeskind says:

    Good story Les. I’m a saturday market junkie, and Sydney suburbs are the home of some great local (NSW) produce, with organics becoming cheaper and more available. When your in Sydney next try a few and compare. Kings Cross markets next to the fountain are fun; EQ at the Fox Studios Moore Park are bigger, better but more crowded and not as village feeling. Everleigh Markets at the Carraige Works in Redfern are now tghe best, and great village feel to them. On the 1st Saturday of each month ie biggest and a great harbour view as the park opposite Star City hosts a huge met of everything fresh and local (NSW). Try them next visit and compare. Enjoy,
    regards another market junkie, Frank

  2. Frank Liebeskind says:

    Good story Les. I’m a Saturday market junkie, and Sydney suburbs are the home of some great local (NSW) produce, with organics becoming cheaper and more available. When you’re in Sydney next try a few and compare. Kings Cross markets next to the fountain are fun; EQ at the Fox Studios Moore Park are bigger, better but more crowded and not as village feeling. Everleigh Markets at the Carriage Works in Redfern are now tghe best, and great village feel to them. On the 1st Saturday of each month i.e. biggest and a great harbour view as the park opposite Star City hosts a huge met of everything fresh and local (NSW). Try them next visit and compare. Enjoy,
    regards another market junkie, Frank

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Frank,
      I have been to some of these and loved them… have market will travel.
      I thought that the prepared foods in particular at Moore Park were great, and as our place is at Potts Point have been a regular visitor to the one at the Cross whenever we are in Sydney. I will try some of the others when next in town.
      Regards
      Les

  3. Pamela Garnsey says:

    So sweet to see Bonnie again!

    • leshayman says:

      Sadly we lost Sammy last month. She was 13 years old so had a long (and privileged) life for a boxer.
      She is missed by us all, particularly Wallace who had been her pal since we got her in Singapore. He is still as snappy with strangers as ever, and remains a grumpy old man at 14.
      Sadly Mac (over 16) has a case of “dogzeimers”… getting a bit wobbly but still spritely for his age.
      We now also have Cherry (Westie) and Dottie (Jack Russell).
      Les

  4. Wendy says:

    Wendy wanted me to let you know she especially enjoys you blogging about life in France…..a country she wants to visit soon!!!
    Hugs,
    Nancy and Wendy

    • leshayman says:

      We can’t wait to have the 3 of you here, especially with Wendy speaking such perfect French.
      Love
      Les

      • Ian Grant-Smith says:

        Les I so enjoy what you write and truly miss France. These are great memories for me too and I would love to visit you and Victoria some day when I am across the pond. Love you dearly Ian

  5. leshayman says:

    Hi Ian,
    France misses you too.
    I believe that the US has a growing move to farmers markets as well.
    I went to some great ones when I was in santa Monica last November.
    Les

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