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25 Things You Can Find at a French Sunday Market

- Justine

Every Sunday in Divonne, as well as many other towns in this area, there is a big street market. Justine the roving reporter decided to have a look-see. Here’s what she looked-saw:

1. Cheese. The biggest cheese wheels you’ve ever seen. The smallest cheese wheels you’ve ever seen. Sharp, mild, hard, soft, white, yellow, blue-spotted. If you are looking for a certain kind of cheese, you will find what you are looking for in the market.

2. Fish. Huge silver fish lying on beds of ice and goggling at you. Shrimp as big as your fist. Crabs, scallops, sushi! Fish that look like eels. You can even have fresh oysters right there on the spot with a glass of white wine.

3. Meat. Smoked, fresh, roasted, in the process of roasting. Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, veal, turkey. Sausages, arms, legs, wings. If you’re a little squeamish, don’t look too closely at the display.

4. Bread, of course! The ultimate French food staple. Usually there’s an assortment of baguettes accompanied by other, more unique types of bread (cheese bread, chocolate bread, fig bread).

5. Fruit. Hypnotizingly bright and shiny fruit. In mass quantities.

6. Vegetables… not to be confused with legumes, because “légume” is the French word for “vegetable.”

7. Cooking herbs and spices. There was one stand with dozens of huge bowls on a table, each one filled with a different dried herb or spice. Needless to say, the smell was a bit strong.

8. Medicinal herbs. Bottles, vials, and plastic bags of herbs that can cure just about anything except lack-of-bilingualism-itis.

9. Carpets. Huge carpet stands. If you plan on buying a carpet at a French market, I would bring something a little bigger than your usual plastic shopping bag.

10. Underwear. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Yes, lots of underwear. Right in between the shellfish guy’s set-up and the bonbons.

11. Candy. The kind you can get in any old candy shop, but the display certainly is colorful. My favorites are the little gummy Coca Cola bottles that actually taste like Coke.

12. Purses. The purse section of the market reminded me of the purses you see on the sidewalk in New York City every other block. Lots of faux leather and on the whole just kinda sketchy. I don’t know why anyone here would buy these crap purses when the original Louis Vuitton store is in this very country.

13. Hats. Mostly sun hats, but I got a kick out of watching an octogenarian get scammed into buying a neon newsboy hat.

14. Honey. One of my favorite tables was a honey vendor’s, and he had honey products ranging from jars of natural honey to honeycomb to honey soap to honey candy.

15. Wine. If you’re interested and you’re above sixteen, go right on ahead and try some. If you’re like me and think wine tastes like a chemical acid, you can try taking some home to your parents. If you can get it past customs. Good luck.

16. Crêpes. Real French crêpes from a street vendor are supposed to be absolutely delicious. (Note to self: eat a crêpe before you leave so as to confirm this).

17. Clothes. Clothes were the most common product at the Divonne market. Seeing as there’s no dressing room and your chances of a refund are little to nothing, I wouldn’t really recommend doing your clothes-shopping at the market.

18. Jewelry. There was also much jewelry at the market. For the locals, jewelry can be a very nice gift purchase. For you, however, the rule is that if you can get it at home, get it at home. It will be infinitely less expensive and won’t weigh down your suitcase.

19. Nuts. The French appear to be almost as nuts about nuts as they’re nuts about cheese. And Nutella. Anything with hazelnuts. You won’t hear about many French people with nut allergies. They have nuts in their blood.

20. Pillows. The kinds that have cute puppies on them or say things like “There’s No Place Like Home” except in French (duh).

21. Flowers. The flower arrangements over here are quite beautiful, but still overpriced.

22. Trinkets. Just general “stuff” ranging from French antique doorknobs to Dora the Explorer ping pong paddles.

23. Music. Some artists selling CDs, and others just street performers playing the accordion and smiling at you as you pass by.

24. Pets. Not for sale, just lots of dogs (and even some cats) that accompany their humans to the market.

And finally,

25. People. One of the best ways to get out and experience more of France is to go to the Sunday market. There are people of many ages and backgrounds, speaking French, shopping for their Sunday dinners. You can practice your French, buy some souvenirs, and enjoy a setting that you can’t find back home.




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