Olive Us: Visiting a French Market

March 6, 2014

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my! This episode of Olive Us, called How to Visit a French Market, makes me homesick for France like crazy. The market in our town took place at the base of the local cathedral, which made for a magnificent backdrop while we picked out our vegetables. But the coolest thing, is that the market had been taking place in that same spot, by that same cathedrals for centuries. Literally centuries!

Catherdral + Market in Argentan France

In fact, early on in our stay we stopped at a vide grenier (a town yard sale) and found this very old lithograph showing our very same cathedral with a market scene happening. Isn’t that the coolest? It’s one of my favorite souvenirs from our time in France. You can see more closeups of the print here and here. (Bonus: is was 2 euros.)

Related to shopping at the market, for months I’ve been working on a separate post about French food — what we missed, what habits we’ve continued since we got back — that sort of thing. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to finish it up. I suppose it’s partly because I keep getting emotional when I work on it. : ) Anyway, shopping at the market featured in this video is definitely one of the things I miss. We went dozens and dozens of times and it never lost its charm.

I hope you enjoy the video! And I’d love to know: Do you have access to a good local market where you live? There are great ones here in Oakland and we love when we make time to go. And if you’ve been to France, did you get the chance to visit an outdoor market?

P.S. — Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Olive Us has a really charming Instagram stream. You should totally subscribe!
- Find the official Olive Us website here, and subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter here.

- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.
- We’ve made 44 episodes so far and collaborated with ulive on 20 of them! You can find the Olive Us page on ulive here.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah March 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Oh I’m so looking forward to hearing the French food update! When I got back from France (I was in Nantes), I drank way more espresso (instead of drip coffee), ate more yogurt, was more okay with having a déjeuner de fromage (did you ever do this, too?), and more generally ate like Alice Waters– quality foods, simply prepared, often with simply dressed fruit for dessert.

Was your market daily, or just on the weekend? What sweet memories!

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2 Design Mom March 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I’ll excited about the post too. The market in the video was on Tuesday and Friday. It would move to other nearby towns on other days, so basically you could have access to a market every day but Sunday.

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3 Kendra March 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm

What a sweet video! I especially love the music—do you mind sharing what it is? It would make a great soundtrack for a summer dinner party!

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4 Design Mom March 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I actually don’t know, but Ben Blair will. I’ll ask him and get back to you.

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5 Kendra March 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

That would be lovely! Thanks! The song has a lot of whimsy. :-)

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6 Amy3 March 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Oh, I love this one! Going to farmers’ markets is something my family and I have such fun doing. And what amazing bonus points to visit one in France, at the foot of a cathedral!

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7 Tamara March 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Great episode! It makes me anxious for spring.
We have some great farmers markets in Minnesota. In my area, they won’t start for a few months as we’re still buried under several feet of snow.

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8 JessK March 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So fun! Our little town does a farmer’s market on Saturdays in the summer. It isn’t enough for me, so some friends and I organized a produce co-op. We take turns shopping in pairs at the big farmer’s market in Dallas (about 40 minutes from our town) every other week, and split the bounty among 12 of us. It’s a great deal–I get a laundry basket full for $20. I love it!

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9 Design Mom March 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

I love that you organized something yourself. See a need, fill a need!

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10 meta March 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Just spent a 4-day trip in Strasbourg last week and went to the local fresh market there. Bought jars of creamy honey, as always :) I use to live in Lausanne Switzerland and there we have fresh market 2 days/week. We moved to a smaller town 3 years ago and don’t have a fresh market here, but we can order directly from farms around.

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11 Design Mom March 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Mmmm. Creamy honey!

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12 Virginie March 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Markets are one of the thing I missed the most (beside my family of course) and it’s one of the first place I go when I’m back in France for vacation. My parents live in a small town near Toulouse, and the market is very beautiful and friendly, everybody knows each other. Vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, bread, pastries,…you can find everything you need directly from the farms. I like to go with my kids so they can taste things they are not used to and their favorite is called “fouace”, it’s like a brioche, it’s delicious!

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13 Barchbo March 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm

We love the local markets in Austin but our experiences aren’t nearly as cinematic as going “Blair-style”!

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14 Design Mom March 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I can imagine the Austin knows how to do a farmers market up right!

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15 Arin March 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm

My favorite farmers market just so happens to be the Grand Lake farmers market in Oakland (with the Temescal market a close second). I’ve been away from your blog for a while and just saw that you’ve moved to my fair city. Welcome!

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16 mom in mendon March 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Love the print!

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17 Betsy March 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

We live in Portland and have farmer’s markets every day of the week and our favorite one is on Sundays. We basically eat veggies and a few grains and we love to talk to the people that grew our food.

When ever we have traveled (mostly Europe and Hawaii) we let our kids go to the markets and pick out whatever they want. We especially loved the grocery stores in Amsterdam and Rome-when we travel we don’t go out for dinner we have a picnic either in a park or in our room(s) and the kids love it.

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18 Sarah March 7, 2014 at 5:24 am

I have been living in France for 9 years now, and no matter in which city I am (living or visiting), I always go to the market! I am now living in a really small town in Vendée and the first day I was looking for the post office, I found the city market. The most amazing thing was that, as I headed out of the market (to search for the post office), there was this lady coming with her animal companion: a huge savage pig in a leash! I was astonished! (And thought to myself: “Oh, we are far away from Paris now…” ). But the most amazing thing is that I was the only one shocked by the event! Everyone knew the owner and the pig! Even dogs in leashes would come and salute the pig friendly! Well, I learned afterwards that the pig is called Gertrude and she has been going to the market for years…. But she has become an elderly pig, so she doesn’t come every week anymore! Love these things about France… ; )

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19 Susie H March 7, 2014 at 7:20 am

Your homesickness for France resonates here. we recently relocated to Dlorida after 8 years in England, and I am often heartsick and homesick, missing things like open air markets, 500-year old buildings, and the beautiful beautiful cities. I love Olive Us, as does my 10-year-old!

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20 Nora March 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

I love the market! I miss the market buzz the most from when I lived in Europe. It really was a place to observe, chat and find the best ingredients. The lithograph of your market place is a great souvenir. Speaking of souvenirs….what ever happened to the big cow painting from France? Where did you hang it in your new house? Just curious.

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21 Design Mom March 7, 2014 at 11:44 am

We miss our painting! We ended up leaving it in France to be hung in our cottage someday. It was a change of plans at the last minute. I will be so delighted to see it again!

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