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Christmas shopping at a French outdoor market

Updated on November 10, 2013
Princessa profile image

Wendy moved to France in 2005. She planned to stay there for only 5 years but fell in love with everything French and still living in France

Christmas Market in Argenton sur Creuse

Goat's cheese
Goat's cheese

Christmas shopping in France

In most places, Christmas shopping is done with weeks in advance at major supermarkets. In France however, the people take pride in buying the fresher produces for their festive tables. For this they go to the fresh-produce outdoor markets.

Yesterday, I was invited to visit one with a friend, to do his Christmas' dinner shopping. I took my children with me as I thought it would be an enriching experience. We absolutely loved it. From the fresh fruits, to the artisanally made cheeses and wines, everything was perfect. Even the seafood carefully arranged on the stalls and the different birds to be honoured at the Chistmas table were a delight to be seen.

There is a Christmas "ambiance" everywhere. From Christmas lights and music on the streets, to wooden houses covered in snow and Christmas decorations. There was even a Santa Claus walking along the streets giving sweets to the children.

Christmas markets are not only a pleasure for shopping, but also to have a walk and discover along with the local gastronomy, the French way of living.

Seafood platter


Seafood has a place of honour on the French festive table. Oysters, crabs, lobster and many other that I had never seen before!

Many supermarkets offer a "Seafood dish" ready to eat. But traditionally people prefer to go to the markets and pick their own to assemble their own dishes. Most of the seafood is eaten raw or with lemon juice.

Sea food
Sea food
Fresh eggs, straight from the farm.
Fresh eggs, straight from the farm.

From the Farm to your kitchen

Fresh products are a must in any respectable French kitchen.

From fresh eggs to fruits and vegetables. Anything to please your fancies!

Which bird?

Traditionally, the French have preferred Turkey or Capon for Christmas dinner. But you can find all kind of birds at the market: cock, chicken, hen, goose, duck, quail, grouse and many others. Usually they are served as a main course which follows a starter of foie gras or seafood.

Wine and Liquors

Of course in a French market the Wine Merchant could not be absent, with wine bottled on his own property and his home made liquors.

For under 3 euros, you can have on your table a Touranie wine. A local wine from the Val de Loire. And for the aperitif, nothing better than one of the local specialities made with wine and spices or fruits.

This Christmas market in France is more than 440 years old.

A peek at a traditional French Christmas among family. Note the little shoes under the tree rather than stockings hung by the chimney with care; a dinner of hom


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    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      I heard that the French markets in the UK are really good but a bit expensive compare to local products.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      We get a French market in our Yorkshire city near Christmas.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 9 years ago from France

      CheryleJ: you are welcome :) Both France and Italy are beautiful countries with superb cuisine, I just love visiting their outdoor food markets and antique fairs you can find unexpected jewels!

    • CheryleJ profile image

      CheryleJ 9 years ago from NEW JERSEY

      Great article. I'm planning to go to France and Italy soon, and your hub really are inspiring me. Thank you.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 10 years ago from France

      I love outdoor markets every where. I think it is there where you find the true essence of a place. When we travel during the summer I prefer to visit the markets and buy local foods for picnics rather than sitting at a restaurant -something impossible with two small children!

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      I love the outdoor Christmas markets too, there are very big ones over here, the tourists spend all day at them! Great hub!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 10 years ago from France

      You are right funride, outdoor markets are great. I love the contact with the people and all the little bits of info that you get from them and their produce. Me too, I like the smells, touching everything and tasting it before you buy. Great fun!

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 10 years ago from Portugal

      I love outdoor markets! The colours, the smell, the people, everything feels better outside.

      Thanks for sharing Princessa ;-)