At the entrance to every town there is a sign telling the market days. Markets are a way of life for the French; this is where you can buy your fresh produce. The nearest undercover markets are in Cognac or Jarnac which are open every day except Monday. Details of all the local markets are given in book at the house.
As well as regular markets, you should also keep an eye out for foires – monthly markets that are larger than the weekly ones, with a greater number of traders and choice of products and sometimes even amusements such as fairground rides. They are held on a regular day of the month – such as the second Saturday or the 12th.
Vide greniers – attic clear-outs and the French equivalent of car-boot sales – are also worth a visit even if you’re not in need of an antique wash jug. While the larger towns may have a regular vide grenier, most will hold them annually, often during the late spring and summer months. They are advertised by signs, often home-made, stuck along verges and on lamp-posts.
Night markets are another big event. Held in summer they tend to take over an entire town with stalls mingling with outdoor cafes. While there will be stalls selling sweets and saucisson, they will rarely sell fresh fruit and vegetables. The emphasis at night markets is on jewellery, clothes and art and crafts. They usually start at about 6pm and continue until midnight.
If you’re in the Poitou-Charentes over the festive season, it is also worth keeping your eye out for Christmas markets, which will set up shop for the weeks leading up to Christmas Day or just for a weekend.
Local Markets in Charente
These are the main regular markets of the Charente region;
Aigre: open-air market on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays
Angoulême: there are a number of markets in the town which means that there is a market on every day.
The main market is the vast covered market, Les Halles in Victor Hugo, which is open every day except Mondays.
At Place Mulac, there is a market on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Unusually, the market on Mondays and Thursdays is open in the afternoon only. At Place Felix Gaillard the markets days are Tuesday and Friday.
At Place St-Jacques, find the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne: open-air market on Sundays
Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire: Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays
Chalais: Monday morning market, held in the streets of the town which are closed to traffic.
Cognac: there are three markets. The covered market, in the area known as the Left bank (of the river than winds through the town), is on Tuesday to Sunday inclusive. On the Right bank, there is the open air market at St Jacques (place du Solençon) on Saturday mornings. Finally, there is an open-air market at the Champ de Foire on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jarnac: covered market Tuesday to Sunday with fish stalls on Tuesdays and Fridays. An open-air market is held the first Saturday of every month.
La Rochelle: covered market every day at Place du Marché. On Saturdays and Wednesdays it takes over the entire square and surrounding streets. Make sure you check out the nearby fish market at Rue Marche
Mansle: open-air market on Tuesday and Friday mornings.
Poitiers: every day in the covered market by Place Charles de Gaulle. On Fridays and Saturdays there is an open-air brac-a-brac market.
La Rochefoucauld: open-air market on Wednesdays and Saturdays
Rouillac: open-air market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Impressive foire on the 27th of each month.
Ruffec: open-air market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, sometimes with small livestock.
Saintes: covered market on Wednesdays and Saturdays with an open-air market on Fridays and Sundays. On the first Monday of the month, the whole town is pedestrianised and taken over by a one huge market.