Americans love the European markets. And we’re no exception. Although Portland’s Farmers Markets, at which we were regular participants, are just as good there’s a longer tradition here, as is the case with almost anything of course. And you know who else loves the markets? The locals! I enjoy the happy din of people buying wonderful food as much as the selection of super fresh and tasty weekly groceries.
The Marché des Lices in Rennes, the first of several we visited in the city, has stood in the same spot for 400 years. The architecture of Les Halles, the market hall, is more recent but proudly utilitarian and functional while also being beautiful, made of brick, iron and glass.
Les Lices is a weekly Saturday market, and we can’t pass up the sheep’s milk ricotta, spit-roasted chicken, brioche loaf, figs, peaches and the huge lettuces for little more than one euro each that are so fresh they hardly age over a week’s time.
There is an organic market on Thursdays on Place Hoche, I have heard, and a Wednesday market in our district, the Ste. Thérèse which is actually too far from our house to bother. There are others.
And today, on a tip from friends Ruth and John, we made a delightful stop at the daily Les Halles Centrales market at La Criée.
We left with some tangy goat farmer’s cheese, a sweet-smelling melon, a few galettes (buckwheat crepes) for me to experiment with, and a kilo of fresh Breton mussels that carried a whiff of sea on them, which became lunch. You’ll have to take my word for it, they were soft and delicious.
The seafood stands at these Breton markets are fascinating. I didn’t realize there were so many edible types of snails and barnacles.
We have frequented the markets in Nice, France and I have to say from what we’ve seen so far, Breton markets can top them for variety. But — it’s all goodness.