French people are very proud of their open-air markets and their local products. When you visit France, you have to write down on your ‘places-to-visit’ list, at least to visit one of their local open-air markets once in your life. From Paris to Marseille, Bordeaux to Strasbourg, going to the market is one of the most popular activities for visitors in France. Almost all of French town has its local market, where usually being held in the same location every weekend and/or 1-2 days every weekday and the French market itself has been held for many centuries.
What makes it special about French open-air markets? Its traditions.
First, it is obviously about the fresh and specialities of their local products, such as; cheeses, seafood, meats, yoghurts, milk, etc. As someone living in the Normandy region, in which very well-known with its specialities such as seafood, cheese, meats and cider, I am very proud to be able to live here. Located in the north of France, with its coastline, Normandy is very rich with its seafood, where you can easily find lobster, mussels, oysters, clams, scallops, herring fishes, etc. Another typical product available in a French market includes fruits, sausage, bread, vegetables, flowers, honey, jam, wine, not to forget, cooked chickens rotisserie with potatoes, some chicken/meat skewers are often available to take-away! Yum!
Second, when all the vendors arrive very early in the morning, bring all of their products, set up their stalls and display their products.
Last but not least, where the locals arrive with its own baskets or shopping-bags, greeting their neighbours, interacts and chit-chat with the vendors. For someone who is still learning how to speak French, interact with the vendors while buying their products at the market is very good for practice too!
An important note, in France markets, it’s not a place where you can do bargain~ it is what makes it different with most of the traditional market in Indonesia (or even anywhere in Asia). Here, unfortunately, it’s no, you can’t. But sometimes there are some of the vendors will be very kind to give you a bonus, as thanks for being a loyal customer!
((Just if you are lucky enough))
Not only food and beverage products but at the market you probably also will find old books and clothing stall, brocante (antiques and general old things) with a good quality, where you can buy with quite cheaper price.
Then, the next question is, where is the most beautiful market in France?
I am proudly said that we are very lucky to be able to live in Dieppe. A town which located in Normandy coast of northern France and just 3.5 hours by train from Paris. For me, Dieppe is a warm and beautiful in a busy mode during summer, also a charming town even though it looks all grey during the winter. The pebbles beach, the clean and fresh seawater, all of restaurants and cafes along the dock which serves their best seafood, the famous fishing port also it’s ferry terminal which operates every day from Dieppe to Newhaven, UK.
Read also: 6 Best Instagramable Café in Dieppe, France (article written in English)
Another good thing I found in this town was, of course, their market! Last July 2020, Dieppe just elected as ‘the most beautiful market in France 2020’ (in French, plus beau marché de France 2020) with its Saturday morning market. After being the second place in 2019, finally, Dieppe market won in the first place as the most beautiful market in France with more than 1 million French people have voted!
Every Saturday morning starts from 8 am, normally people just arrive at the market and starts hunting to buy groceries. Some products might be more expensive than in the supermarket, but we have to see from another good side of the typical French market. The ambience, the freshness and the good qualities of its products, the interaction with the vendor… the tradition, which we have to appreciate more!
Besides the most beautiful market, it also very well-known as the biggest market in Normandy by its size! In total, the market covers more than two kilometres, which makes you have to take more time to fully appreciate its character and richness of this market. With its size, there are more than 200s stalls at the market, where some of the vendors come from some towns nearby Dieppe. It has a variety of products, seasonal or not, such as oysters, scallop (Coquilles Saint-Jacques), fishes, local fruits and vegetables, olives from neighbouring countries, pastries, caramel specialities made from Dieppe’s apple, fresh cream, Norman’s cheeses, etc.
In addition, French people also love to keep a healthy lifestyle, which makes them also really appreciate their bio or organics products. If you are in France, you will probably look in some packaging/labels both at the supermarket and open-air market with a logo of European Union leaf with the green colour or simply, AB logo (which stands for Agriculture Biologique). Both are the same, its just the AB logo is only used in France on French products, while the ‘European Union leaf’ is used throughout the European Union countries. Products with these logos, basically organic which means, all animals they used in their products are strictly hormone-free; no use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides; product must be made from at least 95% organic ingredients and there are some other qualifications, where you can find more information here.
My husband also taught me a lot about the bioproducts, every time we do groceries shopping, both at the supermarket and open-air market, we always buy cheeses, cider, fruits and vegetable with an AB logo. Obviously, the price will be a little bit more expensive, but you exactly know what you eat or drinks will not harm your health. These labels are actually very good initiatives towards sustainable and organic agriculture products.
Well, back again to the market. If you want to explore Saturday market in Dieppe, you can starts from the fish stalls in Quai Henri IV (just nearby the Dieppe Tourism Office). Here you can find fishermen’s wives sell a lot of fishes and other seafood products. Afterwards, continue to walk in Grand Rue street, not too far from the Quai Henri IV (a small street starts from the Cafe Suisse just on the left). Take a walk just along Grand Rue where the main area of this market, you will also find, not too far from the entrance of Grand Rue on the left, the Place Nationale. There you can find plenty of clothing and textile products which lies until the Church of Saint-Jacques. Besides those three, there are also Place du Puits-Salé (just in front of the famous Café des Tribunaux), Rue de la Boucherie, Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue de la Barre. The market is open every Saturday starts from 8 am to 1 pm.
After doing groceries shopping, local people usually really like to hang out while having coffee, tea or beers with their family or friends just in front of Café des Tribunaux or other cafes in the Grand Rue area.
As an Indonesian who is currently living in Dieppe, I am attracted with the charm of this town and very proud of the market and its local and specialities products. Even though, I still cannot eat all of French cheeses products, because for me some of them the taste and the smell quite strong, but I do enjoy eating Camembert cheese while drinking apple cider bio or my blackcurrant and apple juice which we’ve bought from the market!
Read also: Living in France 101 : 10 Karakteristik Keju di Prancis (article written in Bahasa Indonesia)
So, which open-air market that you’ve ever visited in France?
Important notes: As we all know, during this pandemic, it is an obligation for you to respect the sanitary protocol. Using your mask everywhere in the public space includes at the Dieppe Saturday market. It is also important to do physical distancing and clean your hands as often as possible every time you have to touch food products and other goods at the market, or even better, always clean your hand before and after to touch those things.