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With every season bringing its own festival of colours and flavours, what better way to discover the Dordogne Valley than by a stroll around the local markets? Grab a basket and brace yourself for some uncontrollable mouthwatering and experience real French living!
Twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the beautiful 18th C. covered market hall of Martel hosts a small but very lively market, offering the best produce the region has to offer. Seasonal vegetables, Rocamadour goat's cheese, sausages from a nearby farm...It is all there to fill your basket up for the week. Then stop over on the many terraces surronding the square to enjoy a coffee and soak up some of the atmosphere.
Every Friday morning, hundreds of people gather under the old covered market hall, around the abbey and on the Place du Beffroi for Souillac market. Thanks to its prime (and fertile) location between the Périgord and Quercy provinces, the market brims with local producers bringing only the freshest produce and specialities onto their stalls. Like many other market towns including Meyssac, Souillac's 19th century neo-classical halle comes into its own on market days as locals and tourists get together for an early morning shopping-spree.
All year round, Sarlat welcomes flocks of people wishing to fill their baskets up with local treats and enjoy lunch in the bustling bistros. Both its cobbled streets and indoor market (which was once a Church) overflow with magrets, truffles, foie gras and strawberries in a successful attempt to tickle visitor's taste buds.
Besides the weekly marchés, the town holds themed Christmas markets as well as annual truffle and foie gras festivals with animations and live music... oh and 200 geese running wild in the town centre!
One of the oldest and possibly the most 'Frenchest' of markets, Brive-la-Gaillarde boasts a large covered market, open air stalls and a cracking spread of fresh fruit and veg. Mingle with the friendly locals and soak up the French southernness on a Saturday morning before taking to the Medieval town centre. Fab!
Twice a week, Meyssac is transformed into a bustling crowd of buyers, sellers and photographers that want to capture the perfect picture of a French market town in all its glory! Built in the local red sandstone, the collection of magnificent buildings that surround the main square make an very impressive sight for any shopper on the market.
Beaulieu's humble river-side market is a great place to catch some rays in summer whilst pottering around the various stalls. It's a pleasant contrast to some of the region's livelier marchés but shares the same warmth and charm. Watch the town come to life as hundreds of people line the banks in festive cheer at the night markets.
Despite many of the Dordogne's highlights being so close to Saint-Céré, this lively market town also very much deserves a thorough investigation. Every weekend, local producers come to present some of their finest and freshest delicacies like foie gras, Quercy lamb and Rocamadour cheese to passers-by (although the cheese stalls alone make it worth a visit!) The weekly markets take place each Saturday in Place Jean Jaurès and each Sunday in Place de la République.
Every Tuesday or Saturday, the bastide town of Bretenoux welcomes a colourful market where traders have been setting up shop for over 800 years. Visitors and residents spend many a happy hour drifting through the stalls and admiring the delights on sale under its multi-coloured parasols.
Close to Rocamadour, the small city of Gramat is a quintessential French town with little shops and a market on Tuesdays and Fridays under the covered hall. A great place to grab all the essentials to cook like a local.
Slightly bigger than the traditional markets, Gramat also holds a fair every 2nd and 4th Thurdays of each month Place de la République, near the Tourist Office.
With its narrow streets, timber-front houses, minute squares... Where prettier to go shopping than in Figeac? Wander in and out of the old market hall and watch the farmers sell their Red Gold saffron straight off the farm. If you're looking to explore other yesteryear markets like Figeac, hop along to Martel for even more fun!
All summer long, visitors get the chance to nibble their way around farmer's markets whilst basking in the midday/evening sun. Reserved exclusively for local farmers and artisans, the “Marchés des Producteurs de Pays” guarantee fresh produce sold directly from the producer to the consumer. They are easy to spot thanks to their logo and can be held in both the morning or the evening during summer.
Outdoor dining is sometimes available at the evening markets.
The Dordogne's summer night markets are a convivial way of meeting the locals and checking out the region's specialties! How does it work? Buy your food from the local farmers and producers on the stalls and cook it on the shared barbecues or brick ovens.
Live music, dancing and wine are also usually on the programme. A word of advice: Don't let the locals get the upper hand by staking out their seats and selecting their favourite culinary delights... It's best to arrive around 6ish as tables often run short, especially if you're in a group.
Brocantes and Vide-Greniers / Flea markets and Antique Fairs
A trip to a brocante can be the highlight of any trip to the Dordogne Valley: a lively encounter with everyday French culture and a chance to pick up a souvenir, decorating idea or add to a collection. Every year, hundreds of these 'treasure hunts' are organized across the region, gathering people in search of a bargain. Have a quick look at the ones coming up: