Different Flavours for Different Farmers’ Markets: Canada and Abroad

It’s de rigour for us to check out the local farmers’ market whenever we travel and visit a town, city or country.

Squeezing in Happy Time– Local and Abroad
In past blog posts, I’ve enjoyed showcasing a few in Toronto, Vancouver, Freiburg (Germany) and Hilo (Hawai’i)  –wonderful local foods, sometimes crafts and ambience which puts them on the map as must-see, places to experience.  Yes, some markets were lengthy happy bike stops while others, we deliberately plotted our hotel choice within a 15 min. walk.

Peaked oblong cabbage at Marketplatz, in historic town square. Rothenburg der au Taber, Germany 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Hutterite farmers’ stall. Farmers Market. Lethbridge, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong Hutterite farms are common in various Canadian prairie provinces.

In France, we squeezed in 2 hrs. during a train stop switch, before hitting Spain, by dropping  by Les Halles in Lyon.

Taste and Culture  Stops – Europe, North America
Lyon’s downtown market has several patisserie cafes with lovely cakes and tartes for a leisurely coffee.  On our second visit when returning from Spain via high speed train, we munched delicately through some smoked salmon, sea asparagus and some dainty raw fish slices.

Choice of pates with protective gelatin. Les Halles. Lyon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Les Halles. Lyons, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong

In Dijon, France we went to the market every evening to take advantage of quality French restaurant meals at reasonable prices with glass of red wine (4 euros) each time. I didn’t find the market crowds in Dijon overly thronging. Most likely the locals are buying small amounts of groceries each time more than once a week.

Restaurant by Dijon’s Les Halles. France 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Often great food, wine at reasonable prices.
Les Halles. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Many markets served wine for meals or just bottles, which is rare in Canada. Except for occasional local winemaker.

Like Les Halles, the Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain  operates 6 days per week  with a large indoor market as its base.  There, crowds jammed at various times with mixed hordes of tourists and locals.  The market buzzed with

Perimeter of Barcelona’s Boqueria Market had restaurants and cafes. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Paella restaurant where we had dinner later. Bought bottle of house red wine @10 euros. Boqueria Market. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Different varieties of saffron threads and paprika. Boqueria Market. Barcelona, Sp;ain 2016. Photo by J.Chong

energy, colour and roar of conversation among shoppers, bar and restaurant patrons usually found in establishments along the market perimeter.  If you want to see piles of raw seafood for sale as well as piles of flash-cooked seafood dishes at tapas bars, Boqueria is the place for you.

Quite different from Seattle’s Pike Market where there are show-off vendors with their ice packed seafood from nearby Pacific waters.   Cooked seafood places are tucked in corners of the market where people chow down deep fried, grilled seafood or seafood chowder –comfort food of the northern climate countries.  The older Pike Market is a bit dark compared to street-plaza side vendors and restaurants.

Line-up for famed seafood chowder. Pike Market. Seattle, WA 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Chowder selections. Pike Market. Seattle, WA 2014. Photo by J.Chong

Dijon, Lyon and Boqueria, were true food markets whereas some other markets that we still enjoy, carefully mix in some local arts and crafts.

Island Market by Ocean
By the Pacific Northwest coast, Saltspring Island’s Saturday summer market is always our enjoyable Gulf Islands’ summer bohemian haunt.   After biking 12 km. from the B.C. Ferry dock and parking our bikes to this bike-friendly market, we browsed tables of island arts and crafts before settling down usually to coffee and a large pastry or sandwich either listening to buskers or by the Pacific harbour waters with coastal mountain views.  On different bike trips, we also stopped by the Saltspring winery for a bottle of wine after grinding up a road hill.

Local music buskers at Saltspring Island Farmers’ Market. Saltspring Island, British Columbia 2012. Photo by J.Chong.
Our favourite local cheese from Saltsrping Island Cheese at the island market. Saltspring Farmers’ Market, 2012. Photo by J.Chong

Canadian Mountain Outdoor Markets
Going inland  you can still see mountains, while browsing among fresh fruits, veggies and meat. Interior mountain towns of Revelstoke , British Columbia and Canmore, Alberta, include some local art and crafts.  Contrary to any thought that locals are isolated folks, these markets demonstrate there are forward thinking and creative locals.  It’s hard to  leave when breathing in mountains views and fresh air with music, coffee and local pastry.

Having pretzel bun in mountain town farmers’ market. Canmore, Alberta 2017. By the Rocky Mountains. Photo by J.Becker
Gourmet doggie bones: elk antler pieces. Farmers’ Market. Canmore, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong. Elk shed their antlers or break them accidentally.
Farmers’ market against Kootenay Mountains in mountain town of Revelstoke, British Columbia 2015. Photo by J.Chong. Mountains are part of Mount Revelstoke National Park.

Prairie Goodness at Markets
With now multiplicity of local farmers’ markets to support local business and products, we’ve noticed expansion of current market facilities.  Edmonton’s downtown Saturday market in the summer has bloomed into an active, busy and happy place to shop, simply hang out for hours with a snack under the bright sun and blue skies.  Meanwhile Calgary’s Crossroads Market added a new wing several years ago and slowly adding some bike racks for cyclists.

Farmers’ Market building celebrates past ranching history of area. Medicine Hat, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Local blueberry ice cream at downtown Edmonton farmers’ market. Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Becker. A few streets are closed off on Saturdays for market and foodies.

At times, the local farmers’ market is the best place to snare local food specialities, not grocery stores.  If you want to buy Saskatoon berry pie, then you must go to a local farmers’ market. Saskatoon berries are native to the prairies but not grown nor harvested in huge volumes.  If you want best

Saskatoon berry pie vendor stall. Lethbridge, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong.

perogies, stuffed with more filling, then we drop by a farmers’ market in Calgary.  If you want sea asparagus that is a bit cheaper, it will be at a summer farmers’ market in Vancouver.  If you want best, fresh variety of wild forest mushrooms, then hit an outdoor farmers’ market in Seattle or Vancouver, where Pacific rain result in a mushroom foragers’ delight.

Wild mushrooms unique to Pacific Northwest coast from temperate rainforests. University of Washington neighbourhood farmers’ market. Seattle, WA . Fall 2014. Photo by J.Chong

Look at again, browse and forage among the local markets for food and products that are unique to the area. We’ve often find it’s a great way to jumpstart understanding the flavour and sometimes even the local history –through food, crafts and wine.

Panniers ready to be filled. University of Washington farmers’ market. Seattle WA 2014. Photo by J.Chong
St. Lawrence Market. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Early fall abundance. St. Lawrence Market, Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Relaxing by harbour at farmers’ market. Saltspring Island, British Columbia 2012. Photo by J.Chong

More Blog Posts on Farmers’ Markets
Chong, J.  Cycling to Devour Favourite Foods at Farmers’ Markets.  In Cycle Write Blog. Nov. 1, 2011.
Chong, J.  Growing Up and Cycling Through the Years to Farmers’ Markets.  In Third Wave Cycling Blog. Dec. 3, 2010.

Chicken stand. Atwater Farmers’ Market. Montreal, Quebec 2017. Photo by J. Becker

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Pit says:

    Thanks for that interesting article. I love Farmers’ markets.
    Have a great day,


    1. Jean says:

      What would be your local market foods unique to your area?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pit says:

        I agree. hat’s why we like ours so much.
        Have a great weekend.


  2. Mabel Kwong says:

    Such a fascinating article about farmers markets around the world. Do these markets open all day? Here in Australia we have quite a few of these markets in the city and outer areas, and they tend to open early and start closing by 2 or 3pm. I’ve never heard of a pretzel bun before. Is it a normal pretzel, or a really big one?


    1. Jean says:

      A pretzel bun has the outer layer and inside like a pretzel but just a different shape. It’s a slightly chewy bun. In Canada and U.S., for the markets that I am familiar with only St. Lawrence Market, Pike’s Market and Granville Market are open daily for about 8 hrs. So the produce is not always totally local at all. Most of the true markets I am familiar with real local produce, are only for 1 day and run approx. for 4-5 hrs. on that day.

      In Rothenburg, Germany I think the market is just on weekends. Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Dijon and Lyon France are markets that run year round with local prepared foods and produce from around their country. Europe is different since people would be pickier where their stuff comes from..it’s a long, long tradition for them. In North America, I think we have higher tolerance for veggies and fruits from afar…which means more possibility of chemicals used.

      What would an Aussie farmers’ market offer that is especially to your area/country?


      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        Aussie farmers’ markets are definitely big on selling fruit grown locally all year round – strawberries, berries, oranges, mangoes, bananas, apples, grapes and so much more. We do get some fruit imported but most of them are local. As for meat such as poultry and fish, some are local and some are from afar.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a tasty post! I devoured the French photos, of course, but love all of these different markets. I love the Montreal biking hens:)


    1. Jean says:

      It would be great if more vendors could see ..just a tiny bit of whimsy goes a long way in marketing their wares. Of course, the select French markets we went felt a little more upscale. Or errrr, upscale to North Americans. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I agree on the superiority of French markets 🙂
        But your photos showed great markets in Canada and Washington state.


        1. Jean says:

          I recommend northwest Pacific coast in the summer or early Oct. We also have been to the San Juan Islands in Washington state. Lovely. Some great local seafood places.


  4. The market in Barcelona still looks like what I remember from my varios trips there some 13-15 years ago.
    I do enjoy such markets whenver we find the time to visit one, here in my hometown we got a small one three times a week in the city center but it is outdoors. In Finland we went always to a hall in the Helsinki when we needed special ingredients


    1. Jean says:

      I like both indoor and outdoor markets. As you may know, some cities have year-round indoor market (which in CAnada includes imported veggies and fruits from U.S. and Asia during especially winter) and with outdoor market during late spring to mid-autumn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In Finland we had this one indoor market and then right next to it few times a week the outdoor market. Here in my hometown we only have the outdoor market and I believe the next “food hall/ market hall” is in Hamburg. In Hamburg is also the famous fish market but I must admit I have never been there

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          One certainly wouldn’t think of Hamburg having a noticeable fish market! My partner did go through Hamburg by bike a few years ago.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean we too love exploring markets when we travel. In very large cities we do our best to find where the locals go rather than markets set up more for tourists. I so enjoyed walking with you through this immense variety. It has inspired me this summer to be visiting more Farmer’s Markets close by.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      For sure, Canada does offer a range of different farmers’ markets. I’m so grateful to have lived in several regions. My experiences go far back, to Kitchener Farmers’ Market where I helped my mother carry groceries from there as a teenager. I had expected all markets to be as interesting as the German-Mennonite markets that are my first experiences….:)

      Liked by 1 person

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