Give me 5 - markets in the Pyrénées-Orientales
The French market scene has spawned many a website and cookbook. Here's our round up of the best in the region.
Best for vintage finds: Perpignan’s Marché aux Puces
Sunday mornings 7.30am – 1.30pm
At dawn every Sunday over 200 stallholders set up their wares in front of Perpignan’s Palais des Expositions for this huge flea market. Selling everything from clothes and books to toys and general bric-a-brac, if you love rummaging and rifling for a bargain, this is the place for you.
Best for a Saturday out: Céret market
Céret’s popular Saturday market is an assault on the senses with loads to feast on for both eyes and taste buds, as well as live music for your ears. Local producers vie for your attention to taste their tempting wares and persuade you to part with your cash – not hard with goodies on offer from locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables, fat glistening olives, tangy and delicious local cheeses, pungent charcuterie and boudin blanc and well priced regional wines to wash it all down. On a sunny day, it’s also a great place to sit in one of the cafés in the town centre and watch the world go buy over a coffee or something stronger! To complete the day out there are tons of things to do in the area from visiting Céret’s art museum to lazing round the lake in St Jean Pla de Corts or getting your walking boots on and enjoying the fantastic scenery of the Vallespir.
Best for ethnic colour: Place Cassanyes in Perpignan
Every morning except Mondays
A stone’s throw from my front door, I regularly frequent this market which is definitely the region’s most colourful and exotic market, located as it is in the part of town which is home to Perpignan’s ethnic minority populations (Algerians, Moroccans and gypsies). The market is best on Sundays when it is at its biggest. I’ve learnt to shuck oysters at the oyster stall, bought beautiful bougainvilleas for my garden, tracked down herbs and spices I can’t find anywhere else to make tajines and curries, fought for divine flatbreads and bought ready cooked chickens and paellas when I’m too lazy to cook.
Best for fish: Port Vendres fish market
Open daily from 4pm, except Mondays
Port Vendres is the only large fishing port along the coastline of the Pyrénées-Orientales, and the Criée des Poissons is the place to buy and sample fresh-off-the-boat seafood. The counter is full of a vast array of just-caught delights from the sea from oysters and mussels to tuna and sea bass and some less recognisable weird and wonderful species! There is also a dégustation counter where you can buy small plates of seafood to eat sur place with a glass of wine.
Best for Catalan specialities: Thuir market
Thuir is a traditional Catalan market town so where better to go for some traditional Catalan delicacies? Fresh, local produce is on display in abundance with a good range of stalls including cheese, wine and fruit and vegetables from the fields and orchards which surround the town. This market is less touristy than Céret with plenty of locals doing their weekly shop while catching up on the local gossip with friends. Thuir’s speciality is an apéritif called Byrrh which is made in the town and worth a try if you’re looking for a pre-lunch drink after a morning browsing the market. It is also possible to do a tour of the winery (booking ahead is recommended though).
And here's a round up, courtesy of the Tourisme du Terroir website, of food markets in the region.
Amélie les Bains, Pyrénées 2000, Vernet les Bains
Amélie les Bains, Les Angles, Argelès sur Mer, Canet Plage, Perpignan Place de la République, St Cyprien Plage.
Amélie les Bains, Argelès sur Mer, Arles sur Tech, Le Barcarès, Collioure, Font Romeu/Odeillo, Perpignan Place de la République, Perpignan Saint Martin, Port Leucate
Amélie les Bains, Banyuls sur Mer, Le Boulou, Saint André, Saint Laurent de la Salanque
Amélie les Bains, Le Barcarès, Elne, Prats de Mollo, St Cyprien Plage, Perpignan Place de la République
Amélie les Bains, Argelès sur Mer, Canet Plage, Céret, Formiguères, Prades, Perpignan Place de la République, Port Vendres, Saint Laurent de Cerdans, Thuir
Le Barcarès, Collioure, Port Leucate, Saint Laurent de la Salanque, Perpignan Place Cassanyes, Perpignan Place de la République