French Markets – a thriving tradition
Traditional French markets are such an intrinsic part of life that almost every town and large village will have a regular market day. In addition to the traditional producer or farmer’s markets, some of the larger towns will have monthly ‘foires’. These are much larger than the weekly ones, with more traders and a wider choice of products. Some even have fairground stalls, and sell donuts and candy floss. These are held on the same day or date, for example the last Saturday of the month.
An enduring tradition
There are heaps of wonderful French markets in the Charente-Maritime, and the surrounding departments. Many are closed or have reduced the numbers of stall holders allowed because of the pandemic. However they are slowly picking up again now and following new Covid-safety rules. Recently we saw that the traditional market at Angoulins got a mention in an article in the Complete France magazine. We can’t remember visiting that market, so seeing it in digital print has prompted us that we ought to check it out. At Bel-Air we only recommend places that we have visited ourselves, or that a lot of our guests recommend.
Different types of markets
When you visit France you might hear different terms referred to as markets, vide greniers for example. These are the French equivalent of car-boot sales and are well worth a visit if you want to take home something small and unusual to remind you of your wonderful holiday. Vide greniers usually take place in the larger towns in late spring and throughout the summer.
On your trips out keep an eye open for Vide Maison signs too, stuck at the side of the road or on gate posts. These are like house clearance or attic sales. Similar to the vide greniers but actually held at someone’s home. These are great fun. Often the items are displayed on the lawn, or on the floor of large barns. Don’t be afraid to call in and have a root around, but familiarise yourself with a few phrases beforehand.
These are normally held in the summer months when it’s much warmer. They generally take over the whole town, with stalls mingling with café tables, and live bands playing outside bars. These markets have some traditional French market stalls, but there is also a focus on hand-made jewellery, arts and crafts. They usually start at about 6pm and continue till midnight. You see them advertised locally, but we can let you know of any that are on when you come to stay.
Where to go in the Charente-Maritime
We love visiting Royan market. It’s one of our favourites and our guests. They sell excellent fresh produce, all under a dramatic shell-shaped building. The market is open 7 days a week from 7am-1pm but it’s best to get there before 10am. Because then you see it at its bustling best when the locals come to buy not just fresh fruit and vegetables, but also the ‘catch of the day’.
Below is a list of all the markets that are on in our department. If you need directions, or want any other information about any of these just get in touch.
- Chatelaillon: open-air market on Tuesdays and Fridays on the main street.
- Jonzac: covered market every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. A farmer’s market outside Les Halles on Sundays.
- La Rochelle: covered market every day at Place du Marché. On Saturdays and Wednesdays it takes over the entire square and surrounding streets. Make sure you check out the nearby fish market at Rue Marche.
- Pons: Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- Rochefort: market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
- Royan: covered market at the end of Blvd. Aristide-Briand, every morning. Fish is a speciality
- St. Jean d’Angely: large open-air market in the centre of town on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Saturdays.
- Saintes: covered market on Wednesdays and Saturdays with an open-air market on Fridays and Sundays. On the first Monday of the month, the whole town is pedestrianised and taken over by a one huge market.
Before you book your holidays please make sure that you are fully aware of the Covid rules and any travel restrictions. These are being updated frequently due to the ever-changing pandemic situation. And if you do book a holiday, make sure that you have fully comprehensive travel insurance, in case your booking is cancelled.