Stock up at the region's loveliest markets!
Stroll through these markets, each of which has its own unique identity, charm and atmosphere, not to mention the quality products on offer from their respective local areas.
The saltiest – Marché des Halles Centrales, Les Sables-d'Olonne (Vendée)
In the magnificent setting of the Baltard-style market halls, the Marché des Sables-d'Olonne highlights high-end Vendée products from Tuesday to Sunday morning. It's an opportunity to stock up on Challans chicken, Aizenay goat's cheese and, of course, fish and shellfish sourced directly from the fish auction. On Wednesday and Saturday morning, there's a local producers space upstairs, with white gold from the local salt marshes or Fiefs Vendéens wine on sale.
The most picturesque – Marché de la Ferté-Bernard (Sarthe)
Every Saturday, a market with a villagey feel sets up in the Saint-Antoine neighbourhood of this little town north of Le Mans. The series of stands stretches from the foot of the church to Café Voltaire, where you can chat away with a glass of something. While regulars gossip between the stands, sellers display their wares, such as fresh goat's cheese from Champrond, roast venison from Villaines-la-Gonais, rillettes and varieties of apples produced on the outskirts of the Perche.
The most traditional – Château-Gontier (Mayenne)
Mayenne's third largest town, Château-Gontier sees its town-centre streets come alive every Thursday morning. Over 100 traders, including farmers, cheese mongers, butchers and winemakers, set up stall here. You can also buy live animals such as rabbits and small birds, like in the olden days. On the other side of the river, the parc Saint-Fiacre hosts a calf market with a colourful atmosphere, during which calf dealers in overalls still clap their hands to conclude a sale.
The most bucolic – Marché de Bouchemaine (Maine et Loire)
It'd be harder to find a more rural setting than that of the marché de Bouchemaine, set up under the trees by a peaceful river. Not far from Angers, this charming town on the confluence of the Loire and the Maine hosts some twenty gourmet stands every Sunday morning, with vegetables, fish, meat, honey, fruit juice, oysters, crêpes and more. After you stock up, dip your toes in the water on the terrace of Le Noé restaurant and savour Loire fried fish washed down with white wine.
The most majestic – Marché de Guérande (Loire-Atlantique)
What could be a finer setting than the medieval town of Guérande to host a market? Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, travelling traders cross the rampart to set up under the watchful eye of the sumptuous Collégiale Saint-Aubin. Just steps away from the market halls, they display exceptional products from the local terroir, many of which are organic. On sunny days, sunglasses, hat and jewellery sellers join them, as the surrounding terraces buzz delightfully.