In Paris alone, there are over 60 street markets. This means you’ll never have trouble finding somewhere to purchase fresh staples, but chef and host of Taste le Tour, Gabriel Gaté, says to find the most atmospheric markets you must leave France’s bustling capital.
Markets typically pop up during the weekend, and on a sunny day, there’s little better than picking up a few snacks and heading out for a picnic.
Gaté favours markets with genuine farming stallholders and suggests you visit one called Notre Dame market which is easily accessed by tourists in Versailles, just a 35min drive or 45min train ride from Paris’ centre.
“The Notre Dame market was established by King Louis XIII, it’s a very large square like a piazza, with four buildings on each corner. In the centre it is filled with real farmers, who on Saturday are in Versailles and Sunday they are somewhere else,” says Gaté.
A tip for travellers: as a general rule, the largest markets anywhere will be held on a Saturday and sometimes also on Friday.
“Almost every city and every country town has a covered market with permanent members that are open five or six days a week,” says Gaté.
“Almost every city and every country town has a covered market with permanent members that are open five or six days a week”
His personal covered market recommendation? Les Halles de Lyon for a piece of local cheese – to take on a picnic, of course.
“The covered market of Lyon, Le Halle de Lyon is one of the best markets in the world in terms of quality. The best cheeses, meat, and pastries – it is a gourmet world,” he says.
There’s no point in trying to describe it with words – so here are a few teasers to make your mouth water:
The cheese-obsessed chef always has his mind on a holistic experience, and for his final market recommendation, says the mountainous Pyrenees is the best place to enjoy the fresh country air and local goodies.
“Overall, the markets from the Pyrenees are all stunning – there’s often a river running through and they attract a more alternative, interesting clientele,” Gaté says.
Many local small-hold farmers populate the mountain-region markets with unique cheeses and other homemade goods which you will not find in the large undercover markets of Paris and Lyon.
Alongside cheese, Gaté recommends keeping an eye out for local butchers, as every regional market’s butcher will have a unique offering.
“Some would just do lamb and some concentrate on pork and they will have different charcuterie – it’s very strong. In France, there is so much variety.
“If you choose one gourmet country to have experience in the world, France should be the place.”
The Best of Taste le Tour with Gabriel Gaté airs every night from Saturday 6 July and finishes Sunday 28 July 2019. Visit the Taste le Tour website to catch-up on episodes online, scroll through recipes or find out more about the show.