One of the best parts about travelling through France is shopping at the outdoor and indoor markets throughout the country. From specialty markets, like the fish market in Marseille and the renown flea markets in Paris, to the many community based markets with locally grown produce, there is never a lack of great finds and treasures when visiting a French market. If you are a treasure lover, cuisine lover, or antique lover, a French market will seem like a little slice of heaven when you stumble upon one.
The food markets are great for experiencing the local cuisine. Each market specializes in that regions famous cuisine and is a great place to start when looking for an authentic feel of the regions cuisine. The locals only grow seasonal items and items traditional to the region- you are able to taste and experience food as the locals do, as well as barter your way through your trip. The markets carry the freshest meats, cheeses, and produce and are a great place to get a cheap snack, or prepare a picnic to enjoy at the spot of your choosing. No matter where you are in France, you will find treats at every market.
Food markets need little tips, other than bring cash and a bag to carry your goods back with you. If you are looking to head to a market to go clothes or trinket shopping however, there are some general tips that will make the experience much more enjoyable.
- Go early. The best stuff sells out fast, going early will ensure you get a look at all the best finds.
- Bring a basket or canvas bag. Will many vendors have plastic bags, they aren’t very practical for carrying around purchases, bringing your own bag will allow you to buy lots of goodies and carry them comfortably.
- Bring cash, especially smaller bills. Markets are cash driven; having small bills will allow you to negotiate better as well.
- Walk around the market once before purchasing. This will allow you to take stock of the full inventory instead of making snap purchases.
- Take advantage of samples. Try stuff before you commit to buying it!
Most importantly, have fun shopping with the locals, and be sure to watch your money. Pick pocketing can happen, but if you are smart and paying attention, you should be fine. Have fun shopping the treasures of France!