One of the great pleasures in visiting European countries is the opportunity to experience the many open air markets. This is certainly true in France where there are a plethora of wonderful markets throughout the country. The markets in each region reflect the produce and cuisine of that particular area so don’t expect to find the same products in Normandy (crêpes, apples and cider for example) as you would in Provence. In the markets on the Côte d’Azur you are sure to find olives, tapenade, olive oil, socca (a flatbread made with chickpeas), honey, local cheeses such as chèvre and Banon (a cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves) and other local produce. Although you will find markets in almost every town, the following are popular markets of Cannes, Antibes and Valbonne.
Marché Forville in Cannes
In Cannes you can find Marché Forville at the bottom of the Suquet (or old town) and just a couple of blocks from the harbor and the Palais des Festivals. As you might expect, being on the coast, this market has a lot of seafood fresh from the Mediterranean–shrimp, clams, scallops and dorade (sea bream) among other fish and shellfish. There are several vendors offering a delicious variety of cheeses both local and from around the country. Of course you can find fruit and vegetables as well as various ready-to-eat dishes such as paella, fried squash blossoms and tapenades. The covered market is open daily from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM except on Mondays. Those mornings the market is taken over by “brocantes,” merchants selling all types of antiques and other goods.
Marché Provençal in Antibes
Close to the Grimaldi Fortress and just a couple of blocks from the port, the Marché Provençal in Antibes is set under a charming covered area in the center of the town (the “Cours Masséna”). Here you will find local produce, herbs, cheeses and sausages as well as all sorts of products relating to the olive. Open from 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM daily (except for Mondays from September 1 through May 31) it’s a pleasure to stroll among the vendors admiring and, if you’re lucky, tasting their wares. After 3:00 PM, artists and craftspeople set up tables on the Cours where you can peruse paintings, ceramics, sculptures and other crafts.
Take a look at our proposed itinerary for a one-week stay in Antibes.
Provençal Market in Valbonne
Unlike the markets in Cannes and Antibes, the Provençal Market in Valbonne is only open on Fridays from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM but it is well worth a visit. Not only is it the largest market, it is the only one that is not confined to a specific space but rather is spread out among the streets of this charming, Medieval village. So when you tire of looking at all the stands offering clothing, kitchenware, French fabrics, honey, olives (of course), cheese and meat, you can enjoy traversing cobblestone streets, admiring the beautiful old doors set into the weathered stone walls of homes and shops.
Take a look at our guide for a one-week stay in Valbonne.
Whether you’re a fresh market aficionado, a tourist interested in participating in the daily lives of the French or just hunting for something delicious for lunch, be sure to include a visit to these markets on your next trip to the French Riviera.
Photos by Zoya Stafienko for A.M.A Selections. All images © A.M.A Selections