I adore the French markets!!!! And for me, there is nothing more pleasurable to do than go to an open market first thing in the morning and get the very best, freshest ingredients available from the local farmers, butchers, bakers and fish monger that has spent a lot of time and care cultivating their produced or for bakers I should say ‘mastering the fine art of baking!’ I somehow think that the produced and bread you get in a French open markets are far, far, better than those you get in the supermarkets. I can only assume that is probably because they give their produce loads of love and very tender care! and I particularly love the French markets within the Southwest region of France.
The South West Region of France which the French refers to as simply ‘ Sud-Ouest,’ covers the regions of Aquitaine, Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. Not only is this region well adored in France for its’s amazing wine produced but it is also widely known and adored all over the world for it’s amazing wine, brandy and cuisine. The finest wines and brandy are produced in this region; covering several wine-producing areas located inland from, and south of Bordeaux. A total of 16,000 hectares of vineyards, throughout the Aquitaine region all the way to the west of the Midi-Pyrénées region. This region’s wine history goes all the way back to the Romans who had a flourishing wine trade and were the first to cultivate land in the South West of France, long before the Bordeaux wine vineyards were planted and established. The Romans believed that ‘wine’ is a necessity and should be made available for everyone to drink, from aristocrats to slaves. To ensure the continued supply and availability of wine for everyone, Roman soldiers and colonists ensures that viticulture and wine production spread to every part of their empire. The profound effect of which, we still see in today’s major winemaking regions in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
But as this is not a history or geography lesson I will carry on straight to point the food! South West French cuisine is one of the finest cuisines in the world. Due to it’s geographical location the cuisine benefits from the best of the French and Spanish culinary influences, by the coast the cuisine is celebrated with fresh fish and seafood whereas inland, fresh meat such as the high quality lamb “Agneau de Pauillac” and cured meats, as well as high quality sheep cheeses, patés, terrines, confits and magret are the french tables favourite! Not the mention the abundance of vegetables, legumes, freshwater fishes, salt cod that are also widely available in this region and of course, last but not least the famous Armagnac brandy that is only available in Gascony!
The open markets located in the Greater South West of France are not open every day, opening and closing hours varies as well so if you do embark on a gastronomic adventure as I have done, best check the local tourist office when the markets are open, particularly during Easter or New Year time when most market and shops won’t be open for business. Note that all markets are only open in the morning, everything is close by noon.
Opening Days for just a few of the markets are:
Wednesday- Barbotan and Condom (located in Gers)
Thursday-Eauze and Auch (located in Gers)
Friday-Vic Fezenzac and Lectoure (located in Gers)
Saturday-Auch (located in Gers)
Sunday-Mezin (located in Lot and Garonne)
Here are just some of the produced you can expect at a local South West French open markets. It wasn’t just the produced that I found entertaining, the sellers in the market were all so friendly and so eager to share their produce, I couldn’t pass anyone who wouldn’t insist that I try their produce, I was stuffed before I finished my shopping just from all the free samples I have been offered to try; amazing cheeses, fresh oysters, strawberries, bread, olives! It was fantastic!
What I also found fascinating is the French love and affection for Jeff (he is the lovely white fluffy dog in the pictures), they were all so glued on him and even though he causes trouble every where we go, he seems to be able to get away with it, I was buying some tomatoes turned around and saw Jeff’s head inside a French woman’s shopping bag, he was aiming for the sausages! The lady saw him aiming for her sausages and rather than be annoyed, she gave him a kiss! Jeff and I went to a cafe at the market and the waiters came out to give him some water and the rest of the customers even shared some their food to Jeff!
I wasn’t planning to take him with me at the market but he seemed quite sad when I was leaving home, so I decided to take him along for a ride.
Unfortunately though Jeff also didn’t want to sit at the back of the car like any other dogs, he decided to launch himself at me and he and I traveled like this from home all the way to the market and back, that is with his bum on my face! Thanks Jeff!