market day in my local town

by Sharon Santoni

pumpkins for sale at the market

Tomorrow is market day.  “So what?!” ,    I hear you say, but if you were living here you would know that ‘so what’ is anything but the right answer.

Shopping for food at the market is so much more than just checking off a list.  In fact, if you listen to my husband who regularly does our market shop, you don’t go with a list to the market … you go with an open mind and let yourself be inspired.

fish for sale at the market

Because that is surely a major part of good cuisine – inspiration, letting yourself be guided by whatever is in season, by whatever looks the most appealing.   By following the advice of your fishmonger when he tells you that this week is the ideal moment to be eating Coquilles Saint Jaques, or when your red fruit producer calls you over and invites you to taste the raspberries because “they have never been so good, and next week they’ll be over”


Yes of course, it is in their interest to sell their produce, but it is more than that, it is a question of shared pleasure, of pride, of quality and appreciation.   The care with which the produce is presented, and the way that clients are prepared to stand in line to buy their preferred variety of apple, or their favourite cheese … all this is the sign of a dedication to quality and fine cuisine that is at the heart of many people’s lives.

So that is why, on Saturday (and other) mornings in towns all over France, you can find the farmers market simply by following the people walking with their market baskets at the ready.  That is why the car parks will be full, and the terraces of the cafés busy, as clients sit down after their shop, and with their over-flowing basket and the occasional dog at their feet, they enjoy a coffee and  discuss …. the menus for the weekend ahead.

pumpkins for sale at the market


Mai October 30, 2015 - 11:58 pm

You’ve captured the essences of markets so beautifully Sharon, it makes me long to be back there to soak it all up. The buzz, the community, the sheer joy of sharing these bountiful gifts bestowed on us by growers so that we might appreciate these treasures of the earth. Thank you, Mai

elizabeth lemnouni October 31, 2015 - 1:34 pm

Expressed beautifully, thanks for sharing your french market with us today! Would love to visit your area in the future!

Vickie October 30, 2015 - 11:58 pm

Oh …What a beautiful sight !!!

Marika Ujvari October 30, 2015 - 11:59 pm

What a great market you have!

Evelyne Williams October 31, 2015 - 12:02 am

One of my very favourite things to do when we are in France. To take back the items to our little apartment and prepare the food and enjoy a glass of wine is sure pleasure.

Cynthia Fischer October 31, 2015 - 12:02 am

So wonderful !

Nina October 31, 2015 - 12:13 am

In the small towns of Italy, touching the produce is not done. Instead one points and/or the farmer picks for you. He always picks the perfect ones because he wants his customers to have the best and to return. My mouth waters at your photos!

Libbie October 31, 2015 - 12:16 am

I’m in the midst of redecorating my kitchen. The one long wall is going to become a gallery of photos I’ve taken in markets in France and other countries. I especially like pictures of market vendors.

Thanks for your lovely reminder.


Kathryn Gauci October 31, 2015 - 12:32 am

How I miss those markets. A total immersion of the senses.

Madeline October 31, 2015 - 12:36 am

Chambray is the most wonderful place to live!!!!!! Those tomatoes just send me over the top. They are a mealy mush here in Texas……tell Ghetto I miss seeing him. I know he is being a good boy. Just downloaded not get between him and a camera!

Madeline October 31, 2015 - 12:38 am

Darn “spellcheck”. Just don’t get between him and a camera

Our French Oasis October 31, 2015 - 12:38 am

One of my favourite things when buying many large fruits is that they actually ask you when you want to eat them and then they choose accordingly – this melon is for today, this one is for tomorrow and so on. Yesterday in Rochefort I was buying Kaki, (persimmons) for the simple reason I have a tree full of them here but I never know quite when they are ready, so I bought a couple and sure enough he asked me when I wanted to eat them, I said the same day, and so, with that simple gesture I was able to compare the ripe persimmons I had just purchased with the ones on our tree, and the best part, it’s always done with a warm smile. Have a lovely weekend x

Colleen Taylor October 31, 2015 - 12:44 am

Oh my goodness gracious Sharon, this is fabulous! I’m hungry right now & this put me over the top! Gorgeous in every way!

Adele October 31, 2015 - 12:51 am

I was in Paris 2 weeks ago. We went to the market by the Bastille. The market was fascinating! The colors and fragrance of the products was incredible. I snapped shots on my phone of various venders. The cheese vendor was indignant that I photographed his booth. He yelled “madame” give me your phone. My son yelled back at him and we went on our way. Phew, that was unsettling!

Gail October 31, 2015 - 1:00 am

The market, a hallmark of civilization! Vive la France!

Nora October 31, 2015 - 1:11 am

I love the markets. In my small town in Holland where I used to live we had live eels, chickens and bunnies as well as fresh apple fritters, almond cakes and gouda. There was noise and activity and fun. Some families dressed in traditional outfits clomping along in their wooden shoes/clogs. What a buzz. It was difficult to explain to my family visiting from North America that there was no super mall down the street. The goods there were the only “extras” after the small department store in town. But it was great.

Trisha October 31, 2015 - 1:14 am

You have inspired my Sunday morning! I believe I will be headed to my farmers market after my morning run to see what they have available. I have not been to one for years, and I have been getting really frustrated with the quality of food I have been getting from several different grocery stores in my area. Thank you!

Delaine October 31, 2015 - 1:40 am

You wouldn’t hear any “so what’s ” from me…only thing from me would be that I’d want to join you! I love French markets! I couldn’t even imagine using a list there with all the choices that would make me change my mind as soon as I’d start shopping! Merci for such a great blog post with lovely market pictures!

Lori October 31, 2015 - 1:58 am

Ohhh! I so miss market day in Angers, France – my own little piece of heaven!

Vicky from Athens October 31, 2015 - 2:24 am

How wonderful! We have a weekly market here but not nearly so large as what I’ve seen in France even in the tiniest towns! And not nearly the variety of fruits and vegetables and non edible items! Your great photos make me want to be right there in your market, filling my basket and taking it home.

Jeni Maus October 31, 2015 - 2:34 am

What I would give to have another beautifully prepared meal in your home. My mouth waters just thinking about all of the beautiful dishes I have eaten around your table. Miss you and the family dearly.

Julie October 31, 2015 - 2:41 am

Sharon, not only did you bring back a pleasant memory of the market day in France, but while looking at your photos, I noticed one of the names on the potatoes, “Charlotte”. We have a year old grand-daughter whose name is Charlotte, so I guess I will have to start calling her my petit potatoe, lol!!

I checked to see if we had this kind of potatoe here in Canada, and it seems the Yukon Gold is the closest. I must look into this further & see if it could be obtained here. I was just amazed at the number of varieties of potatoes!! And all of this from one of your pictures from market day! Oh the things we learn!

jane sloan October 31, 2015 - 3:15 am

Am inspired!
thank you

Carryn McLean October 31, 2015 - 3:54 am

It was lovely to read your comments on your local market. Markets in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia have taken hold over the last five years. Every Saturday and Sunday somewhere there is a school as a means of fund raising in co-operation with local producers providing fresh produce. It is a lovely morning’s family/community outing. I love to go with my basket and buy my bread, fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese – just like we did when we spent a month in Paris in 2013. It seems there is a worldwide trend to go back to the past, get to know the producer and have a taste of the simpler life. Away from the supermarket I tend to purchase more fresh produce to cook from scratch rather than purchasing processed foods. Better for my pocket and certainly our health.

Botanic Bleu October 31, 2015 - 5:05 am

Wonderful post about a true French experience! The photos are beautiful, but the explanation of the market purchases gives real insight into the French culture. Thank you so much for a glimpse into your local market.


Charmaine October 31, 2015 - 5:58 am

Thank you! Beautiful lifestyle that my parents had with lovely chandeliers and French furniture, roses, dahlias and Hydrangeas. Such a lovely memory.

Denise@magnolia October 31, 2015 - 6:12 am

Spectacular photos – good enough to eat.

Roberta Costa October 31, 2015 - 12:12 pm

Is your local town Chambray?


Sharon Santoni October 31, 2015 - 12:46 pm

No Roberta it isn’t. I believe there are quite a few ‘chambrays’ around France 🙂

Roxane October 31, 2015 - 1:59 pm

I can’t believe that both times we were in France that we missed going to market! That means another trip is on the list! I am extremely lucky to live in an area of New England that prides itself on providing fresh local produce to area residents. Between the 2 “larger” towns in our area we have twice weekly Farmer’s Markets, a winter Farmer’s Market, 2 large co-operatives and quite a few apple/peach/pear/blueberry/raspberry growers, several family-owned large seasonal farm stands, lamb & beef farms, cheese-makers galore throughout both New Hampshire and Vermont, artisanal chocolates, of course lots of family-owned maple syrup makers, craft beer makers, and most of the larger chain grocery stores contract with local food providers to place seasonal food in their stores and a few of the local restaurants also deal almost exclusively with local growers to provide food for their menus. One chef in our area forages for his own mushrooms and it truly is a pleasure dining at his restaurant . I recently attended a seminar at a local apple orchard where the orchard manager has for years been growing “heirloom” apples such as Ananas Reinette, Baldwin, Black Gilliflower, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Lady Apple and several more that have disappeared from American orchards. Such an amazing heritage to savor in my own area. You have to try really hard to avoid eating local food around here! Thank you for sharing your market day with us Sharon.

liz October 31, 2015 - 2:23 pm

Having recently returned from a weeks stay in the lovely seaside town of Bandol, I will say that the markets were definitely a highlight of our visit. Our french cousins had their favorite vendors for cheese, fish and produce, and prepared the most delicious meals. Whenever we visit France, we always plan our days around the markets!

Irene Peterson October 31, 2015 - 2:50 pm

How I long for the simplicity of your life in France. The market is, indeed, an inspiration.
Thank you for your thoughts and words.

Karena October 31, 2015 - 3:03 pm

Sharon there is nothing like the look, feel and scents of the fresh farmers markets!! Soon they will end here because of the weather, however some grocers are carrying more organic.

The Arts by Karena

Fran October 31, 2015 - 3:25 pm

Aaaaaah…..yes……you have made my day, Sharon! I L-O-V-E potatoes! Brilliant photos!

Gwendoline October 31, 2015 - 6:15 pm

I love the fresh markets in France, each little area has their market. I wish we had one here in my little town. Missing France!!!!

Cathy R October 31, 2015 - 11:50 pm

One of my favorite things while living in the Netherlands was market day! Beautifully said and illustrated! What’s for dinner?!!!!

Emm November 1, 2015 - 5:44 pm

I suspect that some of the French reverence for food is because people grow up going to such beautiful farmers’ markets and thus understand where food comes from and how much work it takes to produce. And, as you say, there’s pride in what’s produced and a reverence for the process.

Too many now think, if they consider it at all, that food comes from packages and boxes and cans on a store shelf. Thanks for the mouth-watering pictures, just glorious.

Mary Alvarez November 2, 2015 - 6:34 am

I was lucky to visit a market such as this in Sicily while on holiday. It was a unique experience for me as I live in Texas and you don’t go to the market in that fashion. Oh we have some farmers markets but they are nothing like European ones as I’m sure you know. I loved the experience and would love to visit one in France one day…in the mean time I will have to settle for dreaming of it…..

Thank you so much for sharing and the photos made me have a rumbly in my tummy!


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