Market Culture in Gironde
There are so many wonderful rural markets in Gironde, surrounding Bordeaux. The market in Cathedral square in Bazas on Saturday mornings is beautiful and has many local vendors. From Papa Poule who raises chickens and other birds, to Ferme du Pre Chic making fresh goat cheese and soaps. The vegetables are from producers surrounding Bazas in neighboring departments.
Whatever is in season will be offered in multiple varieties. For example, in May there were seven different strawberry varieties in my small town! When you live in France, you start to become really selective and say (for example) the Charlotte strawberries are better this month…but in July you should buy the Mara du Bois!
Two other Gironde markets I really like are in Langon, lining the Garonne River on Friday and in Libourne on Thursday. Leave yourself extra time as parking can be tricky. However, if you are in central Bordeaux, you don’t have to wait for your weekly market…there is the covered ‘Marche des Capucins‘ from Tuesday-Sunday! This market has around 80 vendors. Fresh produce, fish mongers, butchers, and even Moroccan food stalls with trays of french mint tea. Just try to get there early on the weekends, like before 10am, so you can beat the crowds.
History of Bordeaux Markets :
While there have been markets in Bordeaux for millennia, the oldest known market location in central Bordeaux is currently called ‘Place Fernand Fargue‘. In Gascon the market was called ‘Lou Gran Marcat‘ from 1200-the mid 1800’s. A cattle auction had been in the location of the Marche des Capucins since the 1700’s. This would formally become the main food market, eventually gifted a large metal structure in 1878 which still stands.
Named after the religious order that used to inhabit that area, the now famed market ‘Marche des Capucins‘ is an epicurean sensory theme park. The noises, the smells, the stands of beautiful fruits and vegetables…maybe a local chef sighting as well! It is best Wednesday-Sunday and often has seasonal finds that you cannot buy in other locations outside of the city, like wild garlic (l’aie ours) or Morelle mushrooms.
What to Buy in the Marche des Capucins :
Some of my favorite items to try are the Puits d’Amour, a pastry specialty from Captieux, in the Landes region outside of Bordeaux. You can also find the famous canelé as well, but there are so many places to try them in central Bordeaux! https://aquitainetravelguide.com/2019/04/08/south-west-france-desserts/
If you looking for cheeses, there are multiple cheese mongers who will help you select the perfect cheeses. Locally, we aren’t really a cheese producing area, but you can try Rocamadour from the Lot&Garonne or Ossau Iraty from the Pays Basque https://aquitainetravelguide.com/2020/03/11/southwest-france-cheeses/ . Just outside of the actual market is an artisan cheese maker called ‘Laiterie Burdigala‘ that sells mozarella, burratta and other Italian cheeses made in-house by hand with regional French cow’s milk.
On the weekends are there is the Basque food vendor which is a lot of fun! Just get there early enough to find a spot! The oyster stand offers oysters from Ile d’Oleron and a glass of wine for around 6 EURO per person. There is Chinese food like laquered duck and Reunionaise cuisine (a French Island off the coast of Madagascar). Just outside of the market a restaurant called ‘Le Couchon qui Volant‘ that offers locally sourced meats and fries that is perfect on a winter’s day. The menu is written on the wall and it’s a really charming location. I’d personally advise against the ‘dishes’, the butchers cuts of meat are the best option and reason to go.
The Markets in Chartons, Bordeaux :
There are technically two markets in Chartrons, the small covered market open during the week, and the Sunday market on the side of the Garonne River, the Marche des Quais. The riverside market is especially nice on a summer morning. You can try a plate of oysters to enjoy on the spot, or just grab some local produce and head back to your apartment rental to cook! One of the more unique producers there is a cheese monger who specializes in extremely aged and ripe goat cheeses.
Bordeaux Food Stalls and ‘Les Halles’ :
The term ‘les halles’ is used in France to describe a centralized market. You will find in Paris it’s very much the same thing (at least historically). The metro ‘Les Halles’ in Paris is where the central market used to be, before it was moved to Rungis outside of Bordeaux.
In Bordeaux, we also have ‘Les Halles’ to describe indoor market and small booth dining options. They’re a lot of fun, include not only local and regional specialties, but are a great area to socialize. Near the Cite du Vin, you have Les Halles de Bacalan which is open Tuesday-Sunday pretty much all day (hours vary). Some of my favorite booths are the seafood platters from Charante Maritime, you can get oysters, shrimp and snails with a glass of white wine and pretend you are at the beach for a minute! Or the truffle booth with cheeses, pastas, butter and all things truffles. Maybe the Basque stand with pintxos and other dishes is more appetizing? What’s great is there is something for anyone!
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