Market days

One of the best things about France are the markets. Ever since I was a child, I always looked forward to Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday mornings and would wake up extra early to get ready. Discovering nature’s seasonal offerings, tasting honey and dried sausages, buying pottery and spices are all part of the gourmet carousel. Colours, smells, music, atmosphere – it’s the best way to buy food.

The market we most like in Médoc is the one in St-Vivien-de-Médoc. This small village is very charming, and the main square turns into a vivid market every Wednesday morning until noon. I love to choose my fruits and vegetables from local farmers – their produce is always seasonal and fresh. After going to the markets regularly, I know where to go for the best eggs, best foie gras, best sausages, best garlic. Everybody has something good to offer.

If you like seafood, rush to the fishmonger first – he’s always the most popular man around, and fish has to be sold fresh. He’ll tell you about the oysters, the fish, how the tides were. Once I have chosen my seafood I kindly ask him to keep it aside for an hour so I can browse around. It’s usually so hot and sunny – not ideal for walking around with fresh seafood. For oyster lovers, you will find little stalls selling fresh local oysters from Arcachon and Cap-Ferret, to be accompanied by a nice white wine.

It is essential to buy at least two baguettes – when you are walking around seeing all the culinary wonders, you’ll start getting hungry. The kids and I love choosing fruits and vegetable together. They all go for their pick and fill their little brown paper bags with fresh almonds, cherries, peaches, nectarines. Shopping with a large basket is a must. Not only does it look good, but it is eco-friendly – if you don’t have one, don’t worry, as there are always several basket stalls, colourful ones, plain ones, big and small – there’s a choice for everyone.

I always go to Marie-Noêlle and Pierre Aubert for their amazing organically grown purple garlic – its taste and colour is unbeatable, and they are perfect for roasting. After that I head to the soap stall – there is a large variety of natural soaps, sold by 5 or 10. They are reasonably priced, and perfect for the large glass jar in our bathroom. Calendula is my favourite.

Buying eggs at Laurence the ‘fromagère’ cheese stall is a big affair – we pick 12 beautiful eggs, the kids help me choose. As they love ‘boiled eggs and soldiers’, they take this egg picking ritual very seriously. The inner child in me surfaces as I candidly ask for crème chantilly à la vanille (vanilla chantilly cream). I usually whip my own cream at home, but the sheer delight of seeing the cream swirl in the take-away box is irresistible.

Somehow we always manage to stay near closing time, starving. So we head to the Regal’Pizza van – they are renowned for their Medocan speciality (and also for their excellent pizza dough – what’s their secret? Rosé wine in the batter) – it’s called a ‘magret’ (duck filet) pizza, garnished with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and duck magret. Pure local satisfaction.

All photos by Oddur Thorisson

26 thoughts on “Market days

  1. i love markets – especially in france. for some reason the produce seems fresher, alive with color and of course tastes amazing!

  2. Your pictures are lovely, I wish I was there. Enjoy the treasures you found at the market as it all sounds so delicious.

  3. How great to move to the country and let your children bond with nature and all of the wonders that go with local food ! I love France and your blog is a great way to revisit. Thanks for sharing your love of cooking and writing with us!

  4. Our family, sometimes just my wife and I, and sometimes my daughter and granddaughters, spend July and August at a small bungalow in Montalivet. We go to the St Vivien market every Wednesday morning. I am always afraid I will miss something, so I make everyone get up early. We love Elodie’s bread and the other delights of the market. We buy seafood in Soulac and the fabulous meats and pate in Bages. It makes me so homesick for the Medoc when I read your posts. Do you ever go to the evening market in Vensac ?

  5. Hi Mimi! I found your blog today and I can not stop to see it. It is lovely!! It sounds so natural that we almost can smell the food 🙂 The pictures are wonderful! It is just a perfect combination – food and pictures. I love both!!!
    I am from Brasil but I have been living in Norway about 2 years. My life has changed a lot after this, and now I am very interested about learning to cook well. Your blog is coming to help me a lot. By the way – I love the small villages in France! Hugs <3

  6. Wonderful pictures of the market. We visit the Medoc as often as possible and Wednesday morning is always St Vivien Market. Your pictures are drawing us back as soon as possible.

  7. I just have to say that your younger daughter in these pictures is making me laugh out loud. She is so saucy! Very sweet, very cute. Maybe a little strong-willed?

    My husband is French, and when we go to visit his family, I too, love market days. Although I do not always have full access to a kitchen, much of the food can be eaten out of hand, say, for a piqniq in a nearby park, and it always just makes me fall in love with France a little bit more.

  8. Bonjour Mimi, je suis du Québec et je viens de découvrir ton emission de cuisine qui est présenté sur Zeste…un beau vent de fraîcheur! Merci 🙂
    Question: Est-ce que votre livre de recette est en français également?

    Au plaisir,


  9. Bonjour Mimi …
    je me regale de votre blog mais parfois avec un pincement au Coeur car la France ( home ) me manqué .. je suis Francaise de la Touraine et je vie depuis 25 ans au Texas … les marches me manquent terriblement … Merci pour toute les recettes ..sublime

  10. Happened to find your book on Amazon and looked up your blog…..took my breath away! How absolutely gorgeous and what a great leap of faith your family took making the move. I can’t wait to browse your site some more for the beautiful eye candy, your husband takes wonderful photos. Loving the site all the way from Texas (USA)

  11. Dear Mimi,

    First of all I love your website, the photos are amazing and your storytelling I love!
    This saturday we are going on vacation to the Medoc, thanks to this website! We will stay probably in Soulac-sur-Mer. Do you have any tips for food around that area?

    Greets from Holland!

    1. Hi,
      I like Le ‘bar des amis’ and starting mid-July you should go to ‘Le Verdon’ to a gambas farm called ‘Gamguette’ – it’s my fave summer place to eat! Mimi x

  12. I can smell the fruits, cheeses, sausages and the sun! Markets are the best place to get a pulse of the cuisine of the area. I’m savoring my own Farmers Market here in Santa Fe New Mexico.
    Buon Appetito

  13. So grateful that I can find this lovely family and your stories. I love to cook but now I love more. Thanks for sharing your precious life with so many people in the world.
    From Daisy, California

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