To market, to market

Markets in France are always fun, whether we buy much or not. It’s like going to another art gallery, with many displays so carefully and artfully laid out.

Even the random piles of things with their little price signs close by look inviting. Wayne says 1euro is about $1.56 Cdn, by the way.

We’re always drawn in by the colours and the smells and the sing-song chatter of neighbours catching up with each other. We smile and reply with ‘Non merci, monsieur’ to the friendly vendors who call out to us and make eye contact as we pass. To ignore would be utterly rude. We feel part of this place, not just an observant tourist.

Ah, fresh French baking

In France, you are always greeted with a very friendly ‘Bonjour messieur-dame’ as you enter any establishment, unless you’re alone, of course, and then it’s just ‘Bonjour, madame.’ You must always reply, ‘Bonjour, madame (or monsieur).’ Yes, France feels a little more formal than back home. As you leave the place, you always call out ‘Merci, madame. Au revoir.’ It shows respect and it feels good.

I wish we could take gallons of these olives home. So many different kinds, such unique flavours. And vendors are eager to let you taste.
Asparagus has been in season here for a little while. You can always tell what’s in season because every restaurant in a village will feature it as part of their daily menu, each presented in the chef’s preferred way.

Today’s market in Nice had a spice vendor. We are, after all, very close to Africa, Morocco…definitely known for their spice markets.

At larger markets you can also find clothes, shoes, hats, purses and bags, and in the country villages where travelling to a department store is harder, underwear! Where the heck do you try on a bra in a public market?Sometimes there are linens, even mattresses…and more.

In more touristy locations like Nice there will be delicious-smelling soaps to take home and handy little spice-grinders or dishes for your olives, because we always vow to eat more olives and make our own tapenade when we get home.

We still use olivewood spoons bought at a market on an earlier trip. Although this time we bought olivewood cheese boards directly from their maker in Tourrettes-sur-Loup for about $8 each. In touristy Nice they were 3-4 times the price.

My new leather bag was 35 euros at a village market ($56 Cdn), a decent price for something I’d never find at home. And I still wear comfy leather flats bought years ago at a village market.

So when you come to France, go to a few markets. They’re on the same days of the week in every village and town in every region of the country. You can find the schedules online. (Just don’t try on the underwear in public!)