I know you, whenever you arrive at your vacation spot, the first thing you do is find out where the market is. In some places it is a galeria. In others, it's Les Halles. In Beaune it happens to be the "Marche" and it is one of my favorite things to do in Beaune. It's really not hard to find since Beaune is a tiny walled city with cobbled streets that all seem to eventually lead to the Marche. The Beaune Farmer's Market is located in the middle of the old city, and if you take Rue Republique, Rue Paradis to Place de la Halle, Place Fleury, you'll find yourself in the middle of the Farmer's Market.
Beaune Farmer's Market
When does the Beaune Farmer's Market take place?
Beaune's Farmer's Market only takes place on Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings in the same square that hosts the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction. Saturdays are definitely the best days to visit as you will enjoy the fruits of 180 merchants instead of just 20. Many of these merchants are organic (or bio as they are called in France). There is an outside area that is uncovered at the plaza which spills out into the streets of the city. Another part of the Beaune Farmer's market takes place in the Les Halles building which is pretty convenient when it rains.
Things You Can Buy at the Beaune Farmer's Market
Radishes: You can get all types of radishes at the Beaune Farmer's Market including French Breakfast Radishes. These are tubular and about 2 inches long. They are sweet and milder than other varieties. You can use them in salads, but since you're in France, you'll want to eat them like the French do: wash and scrub the radishes and leave them a touch damp. Then, cut them up raw with a touch French butter & Fleur de Sel. This is a super simple dish, so you will want to use the best butter & best salt (which you can also pick up at the Beaune Farmer's market). You can also pick up a baguette, slather it with butter, top this with sliced radishes and sprinkle with salt for a great afternoon snack. Grab a bottle of Aligote wine and you've got everything you need for a perfect Burgundian picnic.
Olives: The olives at the Beaune Farmer's market are superb. They are also expensive, so this is a special treat for me. Most vendors will give you a taste knowing you'll succumb to these tasty, briny delicious bites. You can find lots of olive varieties from the Languedoc, Provence, and even the Rhone.
Sausages: The market has tons of types of sausages at some incredible prices. You can get garlic sausage, smoked sausage, kangaroo sausage, lamb sausage...you name it. This would make a great addition to your picnic basket.
White Asparagus: You can only get this in the Spring and it is quite a treat. This white asparagus comes from Landes, a region known for having the perfect combination of sandy soils and maritime climate to grow the most decadent asparagus. Why is it white? White asparagus is not allowed to see the sun. If asparagus touches the sun, it turns purple. If it is exposed to the sun, it will make chrorophyll which makes it green. This type of asparagust has to be packaged and refrigerated in less than 4 hours after it is harvested. If you pick some up, just boil it until it is slightly tender to the touch and pour a nice butter sauce over it. This stuff is heavenly.
Mushrooms: The Beaune Farmer's market had everything from fresh mushrooms to dry, Shiitakes, Morells, Girolles, Black Chanterelles...if you're into shrooms, you'll be in heaven. The above brown mushrooms are from Oise which is renowned for the number of mushroom caves and the quality of the mushrooms grown there.
Artichokes: The French love artichokes (and I do too). You'll see them all over the country in menus, so it is no surprise that they make an appearance in this lovely market.
Salad Greens: The market also has plenty of greens for you to choose from. These make amazing salads, but a lot of them can also be cooked. There's no excuse for not eating healthy in Burgundy.
Tomatoes: There are tons of tomato varieties that you can get at the market from various regions in France since they are grown in Bretagne, Aquitaine, Pays-de-la-Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon. Although not all are represented (there are over 430 tomato varietals grown in France) you will find a nice selection, so grab a bunch of different types, slice them up and enjoy.
Poultry: If you are in the mood to roast some birds, you're in luck. The Beaune Farmer's market has tons of Vollailleries such as Ferme Des Gautheys. These poultry sellers sell everything related to birds. This means you can pick up your eggs, chickens, and much more. If you're American, don't freak out when you see the heads and feet on the animals. The French (who are in my opinion way smarter than we are when it comes to food) look to the whole animal to determine freshness and quality. You are to look at the health of the eyes, the health of the feet to determine if it is indeed a fresh bird. These are some of the best birds you'll taste in your life. On top of that, you're not getting factory farmed birds that are packed full of pesticides. You're getting AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) and AOP (Appellation d'Origine Protégée) birds. These birds these have to come from certain areas & follow certain standards. You'll pay more, but you'll get more when it comes to quality.
Tropical Fruit: When I first went to France, I thought it strange that I could find oranges and bananas that had the French label attached to them, but I really should not have been so surprised. France has many colonies and areas where this type of produce can be grown; Corsica, Martinique, Guadeloupe...and this means that you can get kiwis, pineapples and oranges that are all "from France".
Cheese: There is plenty of Fromage, of course. Pick up some delicious cheese and enjoy it with some Burgundy wine. They've got everything from Brillat Savarin (awesome with Champagne), to Abbaye de Citeaux (try it with a nice Volnay), to Camembert (gorgeous next to a Chassagne-Montrachet), to pretty much any cheese you can possibly desire.
Tips for Beaune's Farmer's Market
Bring cash: While some of the merchants will take credit cards, it's much better if you bring cash, this will open you up to many more vendors.
Check the weather: Only a tiny area of the market is covered, so if it rains, you'll need water protection.
Come Early: While the vendors would never sell you anything sub par, you should come early so you can have pick of the bests stuff.
Parking: There are plenty of places to park in Beaune, but the free spots go quickly on market day (another reason to come early). Here's a list of the parking spots in the city:
Free public car parks
Parking des Tanneries
Parking du Jardin Anglais
Parking des Petites Buttes
Parking des Buttes
Parking Charles de Gaulle
Paying public car parks
Parking Louis Véry
Parking des Chanceliers - Boulevard Perpreuil, 21200 Beaune, France
Parking Saint Etienne - Rue du Tribunal, 21200 Beaune, France