Flea, food and wine Markets in Bordeaux for unique shopping, but also to observe (and photograph, if you like) the local society and discover its most interesting aspects.
As I already wrote in the post on pop-rock curiosities and the mysteries of Bordeaux, this important French city hosts beautiful antique and modern flea markets, brocante and weekly and daily food, bio and zero km open air markets.
(If you like open air markets all over the world, have a look here)
Some have a more chic and touristic value, being suitable to enjoy aperitifs with fresh fish on the Garonne quays with Bordeaux wine.
Others are places where the lives of the Bordeaux people are intertwined, where you can find stuff coming out of attics and garrets, providing opportunities for collectors but also for people looking for used goods at negligible costs, both out of necessity and due to the ethical choice of recycling.
So, let’s go with a list of the most interesting and important Bordeaux markets, from a historical and commercial point of view, to shop for nice and unique things and to observe and photograph some aspects of the city, that are invisible elsewhere.
Esplanade des Quinconces: antiques, modern antiques and street food
Let’s start from a central and important stop for those who want to explore the city, the Esplanade des Quinconces.
Here you will find a huge and stable antiques and modern antiques market, with old objects and furniture but also fantastic 1950s-1960s and 1970s modern antiques. Here traders are professionals, you understand it from the setting care.
They are families who traditionally know how to look for furniture and objects to buy, if necessary put them back in place, and then resell them to give them new life.
Clothing is also part of the Quinconces market and those who are fond of vintage fashion, will also find really beautiful garments.
At the gates of the market, right under the majestic Girondins fountain, there are street food trucks, making this the ideal place for a morning spent strolling, eating, taking unique pics and quality shopping.
Another curiosity: if you come around lunchtime you will see that the owners of the “showrooms” sit at their antique tables, set with their antique majolica dishes, silver cutlery and old crystal glasses and eat their lunch. Together.
Often more traders sit around the same table, chat and, if you want to buy something, they get up and sell it to you, maybe even offering you a glass of wine.
Marché neuf, market at the feet of the Saint Michel Church
Another very nice market but with a completely different nature is the one held on Sunday, in another place of tourist interest, that is, around the Church of Saint Michel.
This is a magical place if you love to photograph people, with their colors and their stories painted on their face; you can meet exuberant pieces of humanity, here, especially nerds and collectors of all ages, who observe for hours a clock that has come out from some hidden old attic.
The setting up of the exhibition spaces is less cared for, because here more or less specialized or in any case habitual sellers alternate with non professional sellers, where the poorer groups buy objects of all kinds at negligible costs.
Here we see the most multi-ethnic soul of the city of Bordeaux and also, let’s face it without fear, the bad post-colonial integration system, a historical wound that France always has a lot of trouble healing.
The place is however safe, colorful, peaceful, lively, real.
Always here, the rest of the week.
Always this same square (Place Maynard), which on Sunday is, as mentioned, one of the flea markets in Bordeaux, from Monday to Friday mornings is a food market.
You will find housewives and houseman, carers, students who prefer markets to supermarkets.
Going around the block, simply skirting the Church of Saint Michel, you will find yourself in a square with an iron canopy, Art Nouveau style as a good part of the center, where many kinds of street food small pubs are grouped.
On sunny days, these tables are a favorable position to observe the comings and goings of the historic center.
Marché des Capucins, among the oldest Bordeaux markets
The marché des Capucins is a historic place in the city of Bordeaux, apparently the oldest among all the markets in Bordeaux.
Also called “le ventre de Bordeaux“, the market is located between cours de la Marne and the Saint Michel district. It dates back to the time of the first Capuchin friars from Italy who sold land products and crafts here once a month, then twice a month, then weekly.
This place has gone through all the historical and architectural periods of the city, and today it is a covered market, open every day, where you can buy but also stop to eat fresh products of all kinds.
Here you can also taste excellent traditional local cuisine but also excellent ethnic food.
Halles de Bacalan
At the foot of the cité du vin, a modern structure in the Esplanade de Pontac, you’ll enjoy Halles de Bacalan, a cross between a covered market and a restaurant mall.
Designed according to modern criteria that combine aggregation and marketing, this is an interesting and “comfortable” place to see, for example, before or after a visit to the cité di vin.
You will also find families and young people; let’s say that this place has managed to do what the shopping malls in Europe wanted to do, without ever having really succeeded, that is, joining or replacing the squares.
Quai des Chartrons Sunday Market
The Quai des Chartrons market is a Sunday habit of the Bordeaux people.
It is a market that combines a little antiques and fresh food and wine.
This glimpse of Bordeaux was one of the first aspects of city life to change following the slow process of French “décentralisation” and the development of a new tourist as well as civic model of the past thirty years.
Over the past 40 years, France has experienced a process of decentralization, in which Paris has (finally) stopped being the only nerve center in the country.
Furthermore, the free mobility of the last 30 years, Erasmus and international exchanges between schools and universities, has led many cities in Europe to modernize and become more beautiful, cared for, more central- but-periphery, also here in France. And let’s thank the European Union for this, please.
This place of Bordeaux, until before these processes, was a periphery in the most ancient and French sense of the term. It was on the edge, cut off from the cultural and tourist life of the city. And the market was called Marché Colbert taking its name from the wreck of a ship parked on the dock for years.
Today, the facades of the buildings have been restored, the area of the quays has been filled with students, trees, cycle paths and, therefore, also locals and, therefore, also tourists.
All factors that have made this place more loved, therefore more “beautiful”, also thanks to the new narrative given by the tourism sector (remember, of the importance of the narration of places made by alien eyes, every time you say that tourists are the evil).