We all like to travel differently, but nothing compares to visiting a local market. It’s here you will find the authentic essence of a town where visitors, locals, and chefs come together to try and buy fresh produce. It’s also a great opportunity to discover local delicacies that you may not be able to find in the main street.
While cruising along some of France’s most iconic canals, European Waterways’ hotel barges stop off at some very well-known markets and other hidden gems.
Nestled near the River Serein in Northern Burgundy, Noyers-sur-Serein is a lovely medieval village with its half-timbered houses, carved pillars and arches dating from the 13th to 19th centuries. It has remained a wine-growing village with many cellar doors opening directly onto the street. The village has long attracted entrepreneurs, artists and craftspeople from across the country and overseas.
Their lively, weekly market is held every Wednesday. During Autumn, you will find the famous Burgundy truffle market held in the town centre with stalls selling local produce and pottery. You can visit this market while barging on board La Belle Epoque or L’Art de Vivre.
Named one of the best markets in France, Les Halles of Dijon is located at the heart of this elegant and historic city. The famous covered market hall was designed by Dijon-born Gustave Eiffel, who is best known for his creation, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Open four days a week, visitors can seek out some of the very best foods of France – stalls are overflowing with artisan cheeses, charcuterie, fresh produce, cakes, regional specialties and wine.
During their cruise along the Burgundy Canal on either hotel barge L’Impressionniste or Finesse, guests are given an escorted tour of Les Halles, often accompanied by their onboard chef who will encourage them to choose some items that he will include in that evening’s dinner menu.
Narbonne, Canal du Midi
Narbonne, the Roman Mediterranean capital, is home to a very well-known indoor market. According to Lonely Planet, “It is one of the most beautiful markets in France. Built at the turn of the 20th century, it’s a masterpiece of art nouveau style, with panels of frosted glass, decorative stonework and a wonderful cast-iron roof.”
Hungry visitors can take a walk around more than 70 stalls displaying the wide range of products of bakers, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and wine merchants. You can visit this market while cruising the Canal du Midi aboard hotel barge Anjodi or Enchanté.
Famous for its hot springs and spa resort, Casteljaloux is situated on the Landes Lot-et-Garonne, in the heart of southwest France. It boasts a historic centre surrounded by lush, green countryside. The main street is lined with little shops and cafes and the twice-weekly local market is held on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. You can visit the Casteljaloux market during a cruise along the Canal de Garonne aboard hotel barge Rosa.
Gien, Loire Valley
Home of the famous Faience pottery and Chateau de Gien, the quaint town of Gien has a bustling market held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The town is situated on the banks of the River Loire accessed by a medieval stone bridge.
Briare, Loire Valley
The pretty, flowery town of Briare is a perfect stop for those cruising France’s oldest canal, the Canal de Briare. With an impressive aqueduct over the River Loire built by Gustave Eiffel, activities can be found on and around the waterfronts of this town. Learn about the wonderful history of Briare’s world-renowned enamels at the Musée de la Mosaïque et des Émaux (mosaic and enamels museum).
Head to their Friday market full of fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, cheese and some French fashion stalls. You can visit the markets in Gien and Briare while cruising aboard hotel barge Renaissance.
Saverne is located at the foot of the coast in the plain of Alsace. As you walk down its Grand Rue (main street) you will see it is lined with beautiful old half-timbered houses. Its majestic, 18th century Rohan castle with park and museum has a neoclassical façade recalling the glory of the Prince Bishops. Many festivals are now held there making Saverne a lively place to visit throughout the year.
On Tuesday afternoons you can visit their local produce markets held in the Saverne train station. Their weekly market is on Thursdays from 8am – 12pm in Place du Général De Gaulle (Saverne marketplace). Hotel barge Panache cruises through Alsace along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin with a stop off at Saverne’s markets.