The outdoor markets are one of the joys of living in France. There is a market every day a short drive from Le Puy Notre Dame. The two big markets nearby are weekly in Saumur and Thouars.
The Saumur market fills the streets every Saturday morning. After a little shopping we have a coffee and croissant at one of the cafés in Place St. Pierre.
We smile at some who enjoy fresh oysters with a bottle of Saumur white at 10 am, something we never have been able to do at that hour with or without the oysters. Away from the main square, the Butterfly has a friendly atmosphere.
We fill our baskets with food for the week. We might stop at the farm stall by Auberge St. Pierre where there is a large offering of freshly dressed local chicken, pintade, and rabbit, often sold out later in the morning. We are partial to pintade and rabbit, which are quite difficult to buy fresh in the States. We buy a loaf of pain complet organic bread from the Richelieu baker. There are several organic vegetable stalls. The large one is in the center of Place St. Pierre. The small one is on the northwest corner of rue du Marché and rue du Puits Neuf. We might buy cows milk cheese or organic apples direct from the local farm.
Then it’s time for lunch. There are many good restaurants in Saumur. We might go Le Grand Bleu for mussels and seafood. Or Le Pot de Lapin where the menu changes frequently and daily wines are featured on the chalkboard. We always like to eat outdoors in good weather. The best place to watch the scene with good food is Bistrot de la Place on the north side of Place St. Pierre, but are several other places on the square.
The Thouars market is different. While Saumur is bourgeois with elegant white limestone architecture, Thouars is old world, attended primarily by local French. Held every Friday morning, Thouars has a larger food hall than Saumur, and is perhaps the best market in the department of Deux-Sèvres. We find that some produce is available only in Thouars, like one of our favorites, fresh watercress (“cresson”), which is more intense than in the States. Thouars is best for seafood. We enjoy buying variety including tiny clams, coquille St. Jacque, fresh sardines, and live crab and many others.
Lately there has been a new shop with exceptional quality artisan cheese. The restaurant selection in Thouars is limited, but there is a good little one with an outdoor terrace behind l’Eglise St. Médard, a short walk from the Thouars market, Le Trait d’Union, 8 Place St. Médard.
Doué la Fontaine has a smaller market on Monday mornings. There are several organic vegetable stalls. Have coffee outside on Place Jean Begault up buy the vegetable stalls.
Explore the other markets nearby in Montrueil-Bellay, Chinon, Angers, Cholet and many others.