Friday, 3 August 2012

Marché des Lices in Rennes, France

There are several markets in Rennes, big and small, held on most days of the week. If you want to get the complete list of Market days see the tourist office link here. Today's shopping spree took place at the Marché des Lices in the old town centre, open from 7.30am to 13.30pm every Saturday. It's one of the most beautiful market places in France and also the third largest with around 300 farmers who come to sell you their produce. You can find anything food related here from seasonal fruit and vegetables produced from around the corner literally (my Green Zebra tomatoes in a previous post came from Pacé, just 8km from Rennes), artisan breads and jams, rotisseries and snack food (think galette saucisse here rather than chips and burgers), cheese and meat, seafood and fish, herbs and spices and even coffee. There is also a flower section and the other usual suspects: buskers, petitioners and cute kittens looking for homes.

There are  many types of shoppers at the Marché des lices. The ones who come to be seen, the ones who come to stroll practising the art of 'Flânerie', the ones who make a beeline for their favourite stalls and the tourists. Most people are a little of each: I started as a tourist but thesedays I'm a flâneurstrokeshopper on a mission!

My first stop on a sunny day like today is la terrasse! Sipping coffee at a café bursting with shoppers and flaneurs alike, listening to the chatter and commotion between friends and familes sat at the other tables. There's a child zipping in and out around tables on his scooter, a dog barking at another whilst his owner quietly reads the Ouest France.

When it's time to shop, I've got my go to stalls for certain produce. I get my herbs from a woman who sells just herbs and can answer  any question pertaining to the topic. What I like best is when she breaks off a leaf of something for you to try, like the basil, 'taste it' she says 'it's very peppery' and it is indeed. What I find most amusing, however, is when she thrusts the herbs up your nose for you to get a whiff of whatever it is you have bought as if to say it is le genuine stuff.

Then there is the rotund woman who sells garlic and onions  grown on the Mont Saint Michel bay. I always buy a couple of tresses of garlic which usually last me a year. I hang one in my kitchen and the other (on standbuy) in the garden shed. So far, they have kept well and provided me with fresh, pungent garlic. This year I bought some new garlic (with smaller cloves) which are great for rubbing on bread as they are packed with lots of sharp flavour.
By 1pm things get fast and furious as the market traders want to get rid of their produce and cut prices.  Those looking for a bargain will find many at closing time. Sometimes traders will leave half rotting or over-ripe produce in crates on the ground which students or the frugal-inclined will pick up and take home for free.

By the end of Saturday morning, people will often disperse into restaurants for lunch, the shopping mall or take the metro home, laden with goods to cook up a storm all weekend. That's where I head. There's only so much strolling you can do with fragile Gariguette strawberries (three punnets for the price of two) squeezed amongst large onions from Roscoff and Charentais melons begging to be taken care of. By the time I get in, half of them have already wilted under the weight of the other two. No bother, I clear up all evidence of mistreatment hurriedly by the kitchen sink.  Burp! 

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