I'm just back from my holidays in France and want to share with you one of the best thing France has to offer to it's inhabitants and visitors alike. Farmers' Markets in France are an institution of its own. They are deeply routed into regional history and traditions. You'll probably find a weekly market in almost all French towns, villages and big cities too. Obviously, it is fruit , vegetables and local produce in general that are the mainspring of most markets. The smaller the market, the more of a local producers you'll find. In rural areas, it is still possible to find markets where small farmers sell just their own produce - potatoes, vegetables and fruit in season, flowers, farm-produced cheese and different kinds of meat (both raw and cooked/smoked), home-made bread, lots of seafood (fish, prawn, oysters, mussels), eggs and even a living rabbit or week-old chicks.
You can be sure one thing when buying on a French market - the product you'll buy will be fresh and you can count on an advice from it's producer/seller (as to how to choose it, cook it and/or store it). By the way - would you believe that I completely forgot to buy the artichokes!?!? I had them (tried them) many years ago and wanted to eat them again... Silly me... Aren't they beautiful? Big, round, green flowers - I would almost put them in the vase rather than in the oven ;)
What I did remember to buy was garlic and a lot of it! I don't know if it's only me, but I find it VERY hard to buy a good, tasty and one that doesn't "go bad" after two weeks garlic here in Ireland (most of the ones I can find here in the shops is imported from China...).
Tomatoes! How happy I was to see them in many sizes, shapes and varieties! My Baby J (3 years old) loves tomatoes, but was very apprehensive of trying any that she's not used to - so no green, no yellow etc. After some small persuasion she was convinced to give it a go and... "Mummy I love ellow tomatoes!" Success :)
The seafood market in Auray (Brittany) is located indoors, which I think is a good idea. When you're walking into the market there's NO funny smell of fish - which is always a great sign! It says - we have only fresh fish and seafood and we do a good cleaning after the day's work :)
The choice, even on a small market, is amazing. The variety of fresh fruit and vegetables is much wider than what I'm used to in my local small supermarket! It's also cheaper...
Have you seen so many radishes in one place? Some of them were very nice - a little tangy and sweet at the same time, but others were almost impossible to eat!
Going back to my forgetness and silliness.... Guess WHAT I completely forgot to buy! Any kind, type, shape or size...! Yup -> CHEESE! My heart is literally broken and my eyes full of tears :( Such a choice, a word's "mecca of cheese" and I didn't even buy a gram of it... Thankfully there's a cheese farm just around a corner from where I live (about which I'm planning to write about very soon) so I think a quick visit to my neighbours is in order... ;) Still... How stupid, silly one has to be as NOT to buy cheese when in France...
Something sweet at the end. I know that you're probably waiting here for some French pastries, crepes or cakes (of which are MANY) but I'll leave you with that colourful photo of... nougat - which I haven't seen in that size previously :)
Next time you'll be on holidays in this beautiful country, which of course is France, or simply on a city break in Paris or Lyon (yes, they have markets there too!) - don't forget to pop out to a local farmers' market and try (with your eyes as much as your tummy) all that deliciousness, color, variety that there is. Don't worry if you don't speak French - I had only good experience (thankfully) with my basic French language skills and found that all the sellers/producers are very kind and helpful when it comes to trying, choosing and buying their products.