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bustling market neracOne of my favorite things of expat life in Europe is the street markets – for fresh food, for good prices, for getting to know the town and the culture.

In Amsterdam it was routine to stop into the Albert Cuyp Market at least two or three times in the week and see what’s on sale or get inspired for the kitchen. My buddy B and I would compare notes on the best poultry stand, the best bread stand, and where in the market to take any visitors we may have crashing on our couches.

Meat choices market neracI had simply assumed that in France market would be the same – a mix of fruits, vegetables, meats, random stuff, t-shrits decorated with comments like “Sarcastic Comment Loading” or “I’m with stupid” or some other brilliant verb-age…

But in France, where it’s ALL about the food and the food quality, Market Day has a whole new level.

In Nérac, Market Day is on Saturday. In the surrounding villages there’s a market on different days as well (so you can drive 15 minutes on Wednesday if you can’t wait until Saturday to see your sausage-maker.)

porcelain market neracBut from the buzz around – Nérac’s market takes the cake!

From fruits and vegetables, to clothing, to tablecloths, to foie gras, to the famous Agen prunes that the region is known for – to Armagnac, to cheese cut from the block, to fish, to oysters, to porcelain by the kilogram.

It’s THE place to see and be seen.

And of course, to shop :)

NeracPeople walk between the bustling stalls carrying their shopping baskets, often loading them so heavy that two people need to carry one basket. They chat and greet each other. One kiss per cheek. In the intersection where the two streets that host the market converge, there’s little French old guys with their berets and canes, chatting up a storm.

While standing in line for the ‘popular’ butcher’s blood sausage, our Dutch conversation was noted by the gentleman in front of us – who turned out to be Dutch! Shuffling slowly through the line, we had time for him to share how much he loves life in Nerac (“Far better than the crowds and snobs of the Côte D’Azur!” he says), and why he finds the Nèracaise people so awesome (“Other places people talk about politics, religion, money, sex. Here it’s ALL about the eating. These people love to eat well!”)

Markt Day NeracWe meet his Irish wife and chat about the plusses and minuses of giant stone houses in the middle of French winter. About how great the weather is here compared to Ireland or the Netherlands.

We shift to the cheese-merchant and get huge slices to try of one cheese after another. (“Don’t ever buy if they don’t let you taste!”)

We feel a little bit like this is home :)