The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Thursday 31 January 2008

Markets in and around Richelieu

Shopping or just browsing in markets is part of the magic of being in France. 

Richelieu has a beautiful 1630 timber-roofed halle building which is host to most of the food stalls in the twice-weekly market. On Mondays, as well as meat, cheese, fish and fruit and vegetables in the market hall, the Market Square has a large selection of non-food stalls, which on a busy week can occupy the whole of the Square with varied goods on sale ranging from beds, fabrics, clothes and shoes to hardware. The Friday Market is mostly food, and there is usually a queue at the fish stalls where oysters sell 'like hot cakes'. There are also plant and flower stalls. I always watch what vegetable and salad plants are for sale, either to buy, or to give a good idea of what grows well in the area. If you buy flowers or house plants for a present, they will gift wrap them for you at no extra charge.

On the first Monday of each month there is a market in nearby Lencloître (24 km south).  This means that Richelieu's market is very small that day; all the traders go to Lencloître where the market is truely HUGE. You can buy virtually anything there, including live animals (chicks, geese, hamsters, sheep, goats, donkeys etc.), tractors and general merchandise. There are food and wine stalls dotted around, and we were amazed/amused/appalled(?) at one food stall selling barbecued eels, starting with the live items wriggling. This is definitely worth a visit, even if you don’t need to buy anything.

Other regular markets are at Chinon (21 km north), on Thursdays, and Châtellerault (30 km south), on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Les Halles at Châtellerault is the permanent market - a beautifully maintained building with a large variety of top quality foods. 

A more unusual local market is the nocturnal one held below ground level in caves near La-Tour-Saint-Gelin (9 km east). Held on a Friday evening (possibly the second Friday most months), and advertised widely by the roadsides around Richelieu, it is worth the effort to follow the signs and find this unusual setting.  There are plenty of stalls offering tastings, as well as a main bar and eating area where you can have a set meal. 

Of course, there are the seasonal markets, too. As well as the Christmas markets and the truffle market, look out for farms which open to sell asparagus in the season from mid-April to mid -June.  Some also sell their own honey, vegetables and even oil.

Happy shopping!

(thanks to Susie for this entry & pictures from Lencloître Monday Market)

1 comment:

Susan said...

Lencloître is clearly a 'must do'.

I can recommend the saucisse de volailles aux herbes at Marylène Hamet's stall at the Friday market in Richelieu, and the fruit and veg stall down the end where I had my pronunciation of 'cerise' corrected very gently by the stallholder.

Loches market is a favourite of ours too.


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