Whilst on holiday on France there is nothing like going to the Market for meeting local people face to face. Each village has a market at least once a week and it can vary from a couple of stalls to an armada of vans. Some of the larger towns have markets specializing in different products on different days of the week such as local produce, flowers or local meat such as duck or pork.
Nearly every French town has its own covered market (marché couvert), which is a permanent structure, occupied by an array of market stalls and sometimes called "Les Halles". The majority of these stalls sell fresh fruit and vegetables with the stall holders the local market gardeners. They may sell other produce such as their own eggs, cheese and dairy products. There are often some good restaurants to be found close to the covered market in a French town, and chefs will each morning pay a visit and bring back boxes of the freshest fruit and vegetables from Les Halles as these markets are open daily. Other stalls are likely to include butchers, bakers and delicatessens offering their own specialities.
In large cities such as Toulouse and Bordeaux fruit and vegetable markets spring up on the pavements under the trees beside wide boulevards on different days of the week and often on Saturday or Sunday morning. There are generally cafe’s to rest your feet (and your shopping bags) littered around, especially in the larger towns.
For those seeking treasures - vide greniers (attic clearance) and puces (flea markets) are becoming more popular as budgets are stretched and often you will see signs on the road side or lamp posts telling you which village is having a vide grenier or puces. Vide greniers – attic clear-outs and the French equivalent of car-boot sales – are also worth a visit even if you’re not in need of an antique wash jug. While the larger towns may have a regular vide grenier, most will hold them annually, often during the late spring and summer months.
Many towns offer antique fairs - Salons des Antiquaires and Salon Antiquités Brocante – these are for the more specialized market and one of most famous is at Pezanas in the Languedoc.
Night markets are another big event and in the past few years there is not one town that does not have a night market in July & August. They are held in the evenings in summer months only and focus on eating outside in convivial surroundings - you choose your food from the market stalls that surround a central square, which is set up with tables and generally there is music and dancing. The food that is sold is mainly local produce and typical of the region. There are also arts and crafts stalls as well as stalls selling jewellery and in some markets, clothes.
Should you be in France at Christmas then a visit to the Christmas Markets are a must. The largest ones can be found in the South West are in Toulouse and Bordeaux. In Toulouse it starts early December and held in the famous Place du Capitole in the centre of Toulouse. In Bordeaux it’s in the Allées de Tourny. Little wooden chalets will provide visitors young and old with a feast for the eyes and taste-buds. With original gift ideas from local woodcrafts to regional specialities (Bayonne chocolate, Armagnac, foie gras, preserves, cakes, etc.), but also toys, pottery, jewellery, candles, clothing and leather goods. There are hot roasted chestnuts and warm mulled wine to keep out the cold whilst shopping and there is even a Santa Claus for the children.
St Remy in Provence villa rental - located between the historic town of St Remy-de-Provence and the Papal city of Avignon, this fully air-conditioned house with private pool is less than a mile from a village with bakery, minimarket & small restaurant: for a much wider choice St Remy is only 4 miles away..