Miam miam! Buy a home near one of these delicious French market towns
- Credit: Archant
Market day in France is a social event and a great day out; no wonder Brits love to buy property in or near a market town
Whether it's the riotous colours of ripe fruit, the smell of rotisserie chicken or the laughter ringing out from the cafés, market day in France is a feast for the senses. We can't possibly list the best French market towns - there are far too many! So here is just a taster of what you can expect if you're househunting in France.
Seafood and dairy are king in the north, with treats ranging from lobster and scallops to Chantilly cream and the Breton butter cake kouign-amann. Salted lamb from Mont St-Michel is highly regarded and the carbs of choice are crêpes, washed down with cider, Calvados, champagne or Loire Valley wine.
Bayeux market in Calvados is a "gorgeous gastronomic delight," according to French Property News reader Debbie Folkes. "From the 'melon, melon' cry of summer to the chestnuts and walnuts of winter, it's just lovely," she says.
Check out the buzzing Manche town of St-Hilaire du-Harcouët (famous for its 'galette-saucisse'), the pretty town of Hesdin in Pas de Calais or Questembert in Morbihan, where a horse-drawn shuttle service takes shoppers to the Monday market in summer.
The riverside town of Josselin, in Morbihan, is particularly picturesque, especially when the bunting is still up from its biannual medieval festival. A little further south in the Loire Valley, Amboise has one of the region's biggest and best-loved markets.
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Oh là là! A cornucopia awaits you here. Tuck into juicy Poitou melons and Monédières blueberries. Test the tipples from Cahors, Corbières and Cognac. In winter, the truffle is the star of dedicated markets in the Périgord and Quercy. And in summer, an international crowd joins the local throng in tourist hotspots such as Les Eyzies, and Domme in Dordogne, Gourdon and St-Céré in Lot and Meyssac and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in Corrèze.
Sharon North loves the market at Brive-la-Gaillarde in Corrèze. "The ancient centre is beautiful at any time of year and there's a huge variety of independent shops and a chocolatiere to die for!" she says.
Beth Haslam, author of the popular Fat Dogs and French Estates books, favours Moissac, in Tarn-et-Garonne. "It's a squash, but fab to browse the incredible variety of goods for sale. There are enormous woks filled with tasty food, perfect for a snack on the hoof!" she says.
Other beautiful spots include the Gard town of Uzès and Mirepoix in Ariège where the market is held on a square surrounded by 800-year-old trees.
CENTRAL AND EAST
The Christmas markets of Alsace will make visions of gingerbread dance in your head...and mulled wine, pretzels, Bredele (bite-sized butter biscuits) and many other Germanic delicacies. Christkindelsmärik, the oldest Christmas market in France, has been held in Strasbourg for the past 450 years.
The colourful half-timbered architecture of Alsace adds to the fairytale atmosphere at Colmar's Christmas market and likewise in Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Ribeauville, Obernai, Mulhouse and Eguisheim.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté too is a gastronomic paradise, with Louhans and Chagny among the popular market towns. Apart from world-famous wines, this region is the home of Comté cheese, Dijon mustard, gingerbread and Morvan honey. Be wary of the stinky cheese Epoisses though. It's banned on public transport!
The market in Montbrison, a historic town in the department of Loire,was hailed the nation's favourite in TV show Votre Plus Beau Marché 2019.
A Provençal market is hard to beat with its bouquets of lavender, trays of fragrant spices, vibrant fabrics and fabulous fresh fruits.
In 2018, the Mediterranean market of Sanary-sur-Mer, near Toulon, won the public vote in the TV show Votre Plus Beau Marché.
Canadian expat Ashley Tinker, who runs guided market tours through her business Curious Provence, is a fan of St-Rémy-de-Provence and Eygalières as well as Apt and Gordes in the Luberon and the antiques town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in Vaucluse.
Carpentras has the oldest known market in Provence, with Roman roots. In 1996, anthropologist Michèle de La Pradelle studied the institution and drew a conclusion that could be said of most French markets. "Carpentras market is a landmark event in the life of the town, a celebration of its local identity," he said. "On a Friday morning in Carpentras, nobody is excluded and everyone can enjoy the quiet thrill of equality."