Last summer I read Christian Lander's fantastic book, 'Stuff White People Like'. It was an hilarious take on middle-class white society. Many of the small entries Lander included resonated with me to an unbelievable degree. The love of coffee, wearing a hoody with shorts and over-use of scarves were all things that seemed to be just totally me. There were a few sections, though, that I felt were a little alien to me. These included the love of farmer's markets and organic food. Neither of these were particularly big areas for me. However, one Saturday morning in Nice, this changed.
I will begin by admitting that one of the reasons I never attended the market on Nice's Cours Saleya in the Old Town was that it finishes at around 13h00 and I am scarcely usually out of bed by that kind of time on a Saturday. However, when my girlfriend and I were woken early one Saturday morning by a telemarketer – who was much chastised – we decided to take advantage of the opportunity by visiting the market.
I am no stranger to French markets. When I was a child and my family took holidays to Normandy and Brittany in the north of France, my father would not be satisfied until he had perused various, hams and cheeses at a local market. If I am honest, at the time, I found this rather dull. I would have preferred to be at the beach or pool. However, as I am now a fully-fledged adult, I found my visit to the Nice version enchanting.
The first thing to note about the market on Cours Saleya is that the setting is pretty spectacular. We are not talking about a village square here. There are palm trees dotted around and the area is ringed by some of the most wonderful architecture you could ever hope to imagine. Beyond that, though, there is still plenty to enjoy. There is quite a bit of speciality local products such as soaps and lavender that come from the region. These are very interesting and make the market rather fragrant. However, they are not particularly unusual as there are plenty of stores in Nice selling exactly the same things.
The real attraction comes in the produce. There were five or six fruits and vegetables sellers who came with magnificent arrays of fresh products. My girlfriend who is an eager cook had to be forcibly removed from some of the stalls as she wanted to buy everything on offer. There was also a wonderful selection of hams and cheeses on offer. In the case of one of the cheese stalls, it was fantastic that there was a lavender stall next door to held neutralise the somewhat dramatic aroma coming from the cheeses. As a big cheese fan, this was heaven for me. There were also vendors from Corsica who were selling their own local products that included some equally aromatic goat's cheese.
The market in Nice was fantastic. For anyone who is up on a Saturday morning, it is the perfect way to pass a couple of hours and a fantastic way to get some great food.