From Farmers Markets to Flea Markets, you can find it in Nice…
Around the Old Town:
Every morning, the Cours Saleya market overflows with fresh produce, cheeses, olives, herbs, flowers and charm. A veritable kaleidoscope of sights and smells, it’s bursting with history, ambiance, and culinary inspiration. The best deals are in the tin pans (paniers) which go for 1.50€ or 2€, and once the noon cannon goes off, the paniers really proliferate to sell the most before the market closes at 1pm. You’ll find the small local farmers on the side next to the church, which is also where you will find organic (‘bio‘) produce.
The fabulous Nice flower market is a holdover from when Nice was the carnation-growing capital of France. The market runs from Tues-Sun, and whereas the food area is open only in the morning (’til 1pm), the flower section stays open all day for your strolling pleasure.
Mondays, Cours Saleya turns into a giant Brocante, where you can find antiques, collectibles and fascinating French bric-a-brac. Unlike the food and flower market where bargaining is just not done, on Monday bargaining is a must. The prices start rather high but the occasional deal can still be found, and even if you don’t buy anything, think of it like a vast open-air museum where you can browse treasures normally found only in old French attics… it’s not to be missed. Open all day, from early morning until 5pm, and you will have the best luck bargaining as they start to pack up around 4pm. If you’re not around Nice on a Monday, there are similar but smaller Brocantes in Cannes on Saturdays and Mondays, Antibes on Thursdays and Saturdays, Villefranche on Sundays, Vence on Wednesdays, and in various other villages, click here for a list.
In the summer Cours Saleya never sleeps, and from 6pm on becomes a Summer Night Crafts Market. The rule is that everything must be hand-made or painted by the local artist, which happily eliminates mass-produced trinkets. It makes for a lovely festive atmosphere, surrounded by the cafe tables and restaurants.
The daily Morning Fish Market in Old Nice has been operating at Place Saint-Francoise for centuries; open every day except Monday (…but see below for my recommendation on the best fish market in Nice).
Other more occasional markets around the Old Town include:
Palais de Justice -
- 1st Saturday: Secondhand Book Market
- 2nd Saturday: Arts and Crafts Market
- 3rd Saturday: Secondhand Book Market
- 4th Saturday, a fascinating Antique Postcard Market
Place Garibaldi -
- 1st Saturday: Local Arts and Crafts
- 3rd Saturday: Brocante/Antiques.
Elsewhere in Nice:
The daily Marche de la Liberation (Tram stop Vernier, just after the train station stop) is not only a much more local experience than touristy Cours Saleya, but is much cheaper, far less crowded, and is home to the best Fish Market in Nice. Open Tues-Sun, 8am-1pm.
For fish fans, another lesser-known fish market is the fishermen’s stands, tucked under the Promenade des Anglais, behind the boules courts just before the airport. Their you’ll find the day’s catch: direct.
Outside of Nice
Every town in France has at least one Market Day. Here is a fantastic list from AngloInfo of Market Days throughout the Cote d’Azur, plus their list of Weekly and Monthly Antique Markets/Brocantes and Craft Fairs up and down the coast.
If bargain/treasure-hunting is your thing, look for signs announcing an upcoming Vide Grenier, which means “empty your attic”. A Vide Grenier is like a cross between a mass garage sale and a flea market, or a British Car Boot Sale. Prices start at 1 euro, and if you don’t speak French, just point and use a calculator to make your offer.
And finally, no page on open-air markets would be complete without a mention of the famous Market Day in Ventimiglia, just across the border in Italy. It’s an all-day affair each Friday, and although the police have chased away the counterfeit designer bag men, it’s still worth going not only for the discounted delectables, but also for the rock-bottom prices on leather goods, clothes, jewelry, basic housewares, gadgets, etc. On Tuesday and Saturday mornings (until 1pm) you can find the same stuff tucked into the winding alleyways of the charming village of Sanremo.
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