I found a new religion in France– the Sunday market. I tease, of course, but walking through the market has become a favorite habit of mine. When I lived in New York City, I enjoyed perusing the green market near Columbia University on most Thursdays and the occasional Sunday. It was great to put a face and name to the food that I ate– more than just a brand but a relationship.
But the Sunday market here in Annecy is a completely different experience. For starters, it is much larger. Dozens upon dozens of vendors snake through the tiny, congested pedestrian-only streets and bridges in centre ville- the oldest part of town.
The melange of colors from the awnings, boxes of bright, fresh produce, bins of glistening, multicolored olives, racks of hanging sausages, vibrant scarves and dresses, and the gentle sway of crowded potential customers stepping on each other’s toes– this is the market that I love.
The merchants yell out their latest bargains or ask you (gently) if you would like to sample a local cheese or sweet nougat. One could eat like that in lieu of a complete meal while strolling among the tables. And then there are the smells: salty, tangy, briny, caramel-y, fruity, smokey, spicy, buttery, musty, perfume-y.
Each vendor’s table has its own tempting item, but I usually gravitate to the eggwashed, butter-based pastries like a pain au chocolat or a croissant. I have frequented this one table so often, that when the kind merchant man recognized me, he sold me his last two croissants for the price of one! What a gift!
I learned that one of the most popular purchases at the Sunday market is a roasted chicken (with or without potatoes) for lunch. And it’s true! Those tables always have the longest lines by far, but believe me, they are well worth the wait (but a bit of a hassle to get around if you are not in it).
After the market closes at 1pm, the party is not over. With the recent purchases, I often have had picnics with friends in the nearby park. On the return home, we will walk back through the centre ville for ice cream or coffee, and the streets are still packed– sidewalk tables of the restaurants and cafes are overflowing. People are everywhere, out and about. It appears that the market just kicks off what ends up being a lovely all-day affair in the centre ville.