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The Loire Valley is bursting with lively markets selling everything from local food and wine to unique crafts and antiques. As well as discovering some great local buys, they also offer a unique insight in to the local community and culture. Whether you are a foodie looking for an authentic farmers’ market, a bargain-hunter after a buzzy flea market, or simply want to take in the beauty of endless fragrant flower stalls, here are ten of the top markets in the Loire Valley to explore. Grab your wicker basket and get shopping.
The historic city of Tours has a staggering 20 markets. Le Marché du Carreau des Halles is a real farmers’ market, with dusty vegetables pulled fresh from the fields. Established in 1833, it is one of the oldest in the city. It is a great place for fresh, local food directly from the farmers themselves. Get there early to select your fruit and vegetables before the heat of the day sets in and the locals descend.
Angers is the capital of the Anjou province. Close to the station, the city’s famous Marché Lafayette takes place on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. With a huge array of restaurants and cafés, it can be tempting to first head for brunch in Angers, but make sure you leave plenty of room: the market’s bountiful stalls are bursting with fresh peaches, homemade jams and local cheeses. Make sure you pick up a portion of the freshly cooked snails for lunch and seek out one of the city’s beautiful parks. If you have time, head to la Maison d’Adam. The impressive building is home to more than 80 craftsmen and women who create an array of pieces using glass, clay and wood. The result is an Aladdin’s cave of unique souvenirs and gifts.
The medieval city of Loches has a great morning market every Wednesday and Saturday. Stalls displaying everything from freshly roasted chickens and immaculately presented goat’s cheese to handmade jewelry, and household items line the lower part of this beautiful cobbled city, all overlooked by its imposing castle. Arrive before 10AM and grab a free parking place just beyond the train station, then you can wander over the River Indre and take in the castle en route. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés dotted around for a post-market pick-me-up.
Along a refreshingly shady tree-lined avenue, next to the River Vienne, the historic town of Chinon holds a decent antique market on the third Sunday of each month. It is a great place to rummage through old mirrors, antique frames and distressed furniture. The town itself is also worth a visit for its quaint cobbled streets and half-timbered houses.
Chinon Antiques Market, Promenade of the Doctor Mettrait, Chinon, France
Sprawled along one of Tours’ picturesque tree-lined boulevards, Béranger is one of the Loire’s finest flower markets; it also sells a nice selection of craft items. It takes place every Wednesday and Saturday and its colourful blooms make it a great photo opportunity, plus it smells divine.
This popular hillside city retains a striking Gothic cathedral, a famous chateau and various historic monuments to admire. It has various markets throughout the week, but the largest is the Saturday morning market, which boasts over 100 stalls selling fresh produce. In winter, grab some of the great value oysters and indulge in a hot chocolate as you take in the picturesque setting. In summer, fill your basket with local stone fruits and enjoy the live music.