Market days in Northern France?
June 6, 2012 10:53 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a good local market day in Northern France?

My lovely SO and I will be in Northern France in mid-August. Probably just for a few days, maybe a week. Where can we go to visit a good town market day, and on what day should we be there? We'll be driving from Belgium, so Nord-Pas-de-Calais would be ideal, but we will have a car and will be making our way to Orly, so we have some leeway.

Priorities are: good cheese, good cheese, wine and cheese.

Also cheese.
posted by pompomtom to Travel & Transportation around France (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love the town market in Arras. It's a lovely little place south of Lille, and the market is Saturdays and Wednesdays (smaller) in the very picturesque town square. And IIRC (I'm not much of a cheese person) there were definitely lots of cheese places.
posted by Tamanna at 12:18 AM on June 7, 2012

Best answer: You can also go to Lille, just across the Belgian border, which has one of the largest markets in France on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, from 7am to 2pm in Wazemmes. You'll find plenty of North African foodstuffs on top of the cheese. For wine, head into the old town and look at the shops - wine market stalls in Northern France are uncommon, as there aren't any vineyards within 300kms.

As Tamanna says, some bits of Arras are very pretty and the market is nice, but the town's a lot smaller and less interesting than Lille, so that depends on how much spare time you have. The same goes for Boulogne and Cambrai.

The regional cheeses are mostly of the washed-rind variety; Maroilles is the most famous one, Vieux-Lille is an extra-washed Maroilles, and Vieux-Boulogne regularly tops studies of the smelliest cheeses in the world. Boulette d'Avesnes is a cone made from heavily spiced Maroilles, and Fort de B├ęthune contains liberal amounts of white wine or (better) juniper eau-de-vie.

That said, if you have time, why go to a market? Head to the countryside around the towns referenced in the cheese names, and go straight to the cheesemaker. The entire province is 150 kms across at its longest, that's hardly even a drive to the supermarket for an Australian ;-)

I fear I don't have the time to look through Google results, but " ferme" should give you pretty good results - I found this and this within a few seconds. The tourist offices will also be happy to help!
posted by Spanner Nic at 6:43 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oops, HTML fail - "I fear I don't have the time to look through Google results, but "[cheese name] ferme" should give you pretty good results"
posted by Spanner Nic at 6:44 AM on June 7, 2012

... and I also forgot to mention Mimolette, the other very special regional cheese. It's a bright orange ball that comes in three versions, young, old, and extra old. Cutting the extra old one requires a two-handed diamond axe that only six people in the world are strong enough to lift. Luckily, they're all cheesemongers in the region, so get a slice when you see it.
posted by Spanner Nic at 7:24 PM on June 7, 2012

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