A French Market Culture Guide
Visiting food markets in France is a real pleasure. Food markets are not a uniquely French phenomenon, but on a recent visit to the Dordogne, I discovered just how special they are in this remote part of the country. The markets are such a vital part of French culture, that they were one of the only social activities left standing throughout the 2020/21 pandemic.
In rural France particularly, not only are they a practical construct as a place to buy local produce but they are also a vital part of the social calendar. Markets are a touching point, providing a guaranteed chance to catch up with neighbours and a cadence to the rhythm of the week.
In the Dordogne, there are three main variants on the market theme:
Weekly Food Markets
The French weekly market is a gourmet institution. The weekly markets that take place in the villages and towns of the Dordogne are an array of decadence and delight.
This is the place to find 20 different flavours of locally sourced Saucisson, more organic goats cheese than you can shake a stick at and an abundance of fresh fruit and veg.
Not only that, but you can buy wonderfully fresh pastries, croissant, baguettes and other patisserie. Something to take home and indeed something to snack on as you continue to peruse the market.
What days are French weekly markets open?
Typically French weekly markets are open on Saturday and Sunday in the largest provincial towns in the area.
Visiting Food Markets in France it seems that the locals and tourists come out to visit the market in equal measure as a result you can find French ladies buying their weekly shop, attending the market the same day each week for the last thirty years. And visitors browsing the array of French clothing, soap and homeware. In French culture the market is the place to be and be seen and the coffee shops surrounding most markets will be packed with people chattering away and drinking their cafè.
Night Markets – have some of the food in France
What is a French night market?
Mostly night markets can be found dotted around throughout July and August. In the peak Summer months, the Dordogne becomes a bustling tourist destination. Campsites and local B&Bs all filling up and family and friends visiting expats in the area. And they all seem to convene at the night markets.
What time do French night markets open?
When visiting Food Markets in France at the night markets are more like a party than a market per se with Tressle tables lined up in town squares. Often there is music and decorative streamers or lighting. But this is not to say that the food and drink plays second fiddle. Quite the opposite. Homemade triple cooked chips, rotisserie chicken, organic bread, steak, even the occasional duck breast are available. Wine tends to flow, locals wear cheerful frocks and usually by 22:00 even the most dour looking chaps are up dancing.
Visiting Food Markets in France? Why not also try the Brocantes
What is a Brocante?
A brocante is like a giant flea market or car boot sale. They are normally held on a Sunday once a month. You can find all matter of second hand goods, ranging from clothing, linen, furniture and glassware to Army surplus items and collectable items.
Like all markets in the Dordogne, it’s a good excuse for a day out and everyone in the area seems to come out for a mooch about and coffee or even a glass of wine.
When it comes to haggling, give it a go. But be prepared to walk away if the price isnt right! Let us know about your visits to French food markets in the comments below.