Browse bric-a-brac, handicrafts, fresh produce and discover magical festive cheer at St Malo’s traditional street bazaars
Since medieval times St Malo has played host to regular markets, allowing Breton farmers to sell their harvested crops, local delicacies and fresh produce. On St Malo’s bustling portside fishermen, cheese-makers and fruit-growers would ply their wares to the many seafarers, merchants and sailors that weighed anchor. Today, screeching sea-birds continue to herald the arrival of another boat laden with potential shoppers in their desire to visit the array of marketplaces offering up gooey cheeses, fine wines, smoked meats, ciders, fish, nuts, olive oils and sweet-smelling flowers.
St Malo’s most famous food market takes place “intra-muros”, meaning within the awe-inspiring city walls. Both visitors and locals alike are easily engulfed by the buzzing atmosphere and ambience as the medieval metropolis houses some of the most enticing stalls and stands presented within the magical backdrop. Every Tuesday and Friday, the Place de la Poissonnerie becomes a hive of shopping activity in which the spectrum of food markets is readily available, specialising particularly in Seafood. The opportunity to indulge in St Malo’s renowned oysters or treat oneself to the fresh crab is not one to be missed as tourists’ taste buds are sent into overdrive.
Further west towards the coast, another of St Malo’s districts distinguished for its popular market places is Paramé. The cobble-paved streets that stretch along the scenic seaside gives this Brittany resort a strong sense of character. The refreshing sea air is complimented by the aromas resonating from the variety of local food produce sold at Place Georges Coudray as it hosts the Marché de Paramé. With market days every Wednesday, an array of producers gravitate to the district offering anything from delicious honeys, ciders and fruits to succulent seafood, meats and vegetables, all within a friendly and welcoming environment that immerse shoppers into a genuine St Malo experience.
Of course, for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city’s busier markets, Marché de Rocabay presents visitors with a smaller affair yet is found to be just as intriguing. With the opportunity to purchase mouth-watering smoked meats and flavoursome wines from across Brittany, the open-air bazaar is beautifully positioned on the Boulevard de la Tour d’Auvergne and overlooked by a striking gothic-style church. It is here where shoppers can find a fresh perspective of St Malo within the concoction of fragrances and colours and with the event taking place every Saturday morning, there’s no excuse for not delving into this hub of culture.
The pre-Christmas period sees St Malo’s Esplanade des Frères Lamennais become alive with eager market-goers. Noting the start of Advent, an array of baubles, tinsel and fairy-lights decorate every building amidst life-size Christmas nativity scenes, fir trees and giant holly wreaths. Stalls laden with marionettes, candles and apple rich ciders sit amongst a mouth-watering aroma of sugar topped pastries, marzipan and chestnuts to the sound of brass band street musicians and tinkling sleigh-bells. St Malo’s Marché Noel may owe much to a generous frosting of synthetic snow but the Medieval dancing, falconry, dance and music is 100 per cent authentic traditional Breton. Shoppers seeking unique French gifts can delight in a festive atmosphere where the welcome is as warm as the aromatic jugs of spiced hot wine, crackling fires and sizzling seafood stalls.
Must-buys in St Malo markets
Woven and embroidered cloth and woollen goods (such as thick fishermen jumpers)
Brass and wood objects, puppets and dolls
Locally designed jewellery
Hand-painted ceramics and earthenware
Clams, mussels, scallops, lobster, crab and oysters
Crêpes (choose from sweet fillings and savoury Galettes)
Mouth-watering Breton Far (a flan based on eggs and milk and rum, plum liqueur or Breton cider)
Moist slabs of Butter Cake (a delicacy made from salt-butter risen dough)
Local sausage (the famous award-winning Guemene Andouille is delicious)
Cider, apple brandy and fruit wines
Sticky honey, fruit preserves and coarse pates
Chocolates, cream and gooey cheeses