As famously colourful as the waterfront city of Nice is, its Cours Saleya Market takes it to another level. From early in the morning, in the heart of the Old Town, this famous market springs into life, a labyrinth of fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, meats, cheeses, just-baked bread, and bright, beautiful blooms. Rated as a one of France’s special markets by the National Council for the Culinary Arts, a few hours spent here is a full-on assault on the senses, in the best way imaginable.
From Tuesday to Sunday, the market is dedicated to food and flowers, with every kind of stem imaginable to be found somewhere in the mix. From single red roses to fresh lilies and even citrus trees, the floral fragrances and flowing displays are certain to lure you in - fortunately, they’re generally quite reasonably priced. Particularly notable is the the array of fresh lavender stalks, soaps and oils, but then, we’d expect nothing less given that the South of France is famous for its sprawling purple fields.
While browsing the food stalls, be sure to try a local speciality called socca: a chickpea flatbread that looks a bit like a pancake (this particular market is famous for it). The fruit and veg also tends to be gloriously juicy, and there is a wide array of cafes around the market for a rest and a coffee when needed. Do note that the food market closes at 1.30pm, so the best idea is get there early, grab a lazy breakfast and then build yourself the picnic of dreams ahead of your day at the beach.
On Mondays, the foods and flowers are replaced by an antiques market, with stalls selling items including jewellery, clothing, books, furniture and all manner of other tidbits. Although it may be less visually appealing, there’s certainly some interesting finds to be made.
Despite being right in the middle of Nice, Cours Saleya still attracts a local crowd so it’s worth knowing how to do it like the French do. Here’s what you need to know:
Serve yourself (sometimes): Many stalls will have baskets, bowls or paper bags laid out for you - this means you should serve yourself and take it to the vendor for them to weigh when you’re ready to pay. If there’s none of these, then it’s best to ask and not touch.
Stick up for yourself: French marketplaces can be hectic, so a mental note of who got to the queue after you and don’t be afraid to stand your ground if you get cut up. That said, be patient too - you'll appreciate the time spent when it comes to your turn.
Haggle (where appropriate): you shouldn’t really haggle on food, but you can for antiques.
Take cash and canvas bags: Just because it makes life so much easier.
Ask for help: Whether you’re after a blue cheese recommendation, need your baguette chopping or prefer your bananas on the ripe side, don’t hesitate to ask. Most of the time you’ll find that the atmosphere puts everyone in a good mood, and vendors will be only too happy to help.
Throughout the Year
France 06300 Nice