Yesterday morning, a small group of us woke up early to explore the town of Périgueux on a walking tour. A city with ancient Roman roots, we made our way through the winding streets and secluded courtyards that lend the town its charm. Since it was a market day, as we got closer to the center of town I noticed more and more people with hand carts in tow or empty shopping bags over their shoulders, all on their way to do some shopping.
Traditionally, the French don’t buy their food in the same way that we do in the States. Our Tour Director, Ronen, explained to us that in France, one-stop food shopping at the supermarket is less the norm than it is for us. Here, grocery stores are frequently passed over for shops like fromageries, charcuteries and boulangeries that specialize in a certain variety of food. So it’s very common for a person living in France to be a regular in at least three or four different establishments a few times per week.
After our walk, we had some free time to explore the market on our own. As I made my way through the stalls, I couldn’t help but marvel at the wide selection of fresh, locally grown or produced goods. There were hundreds of different cheeses, meats, pastries, flowers and produce—whatever you were looking for, there was most likely a vendor who sold it. I’ve been to farmers’ markets in the past, but never anything so vast as what surrounded me. To be honest, there were so many good things to choose from that I was a little overwhelmed by the selection!
I eventually found myself in front of an enticing stall that was bursting with baguettes, pastries and some other breads that I’d never seen before. The nice man working behind the counter offered me a sample and I was hooked. I bought a classic baguette that was easily two and a half feet long and a wedge of a sweet bread that had sugar dusted on top; both had just been baked that morning.
Apart from the amazing quality of my purchases, the best part was that I got both for only 5 euros. So, if you ever happen to be on the lookout for a cheap yet delicious meal abroad, my advice to you is to head straight to the market.
What’s your favorite French market and where is it located? Tell us in the comments!
Follow along as Laura documents her tour on Food & Wine: France through Bordeaux & the Loire Valley.