From Farmers Markets to Flea Markets, you can find it in Nice…
Cours Saleya Market in the Old Town:
Every morning, the Cours Saleya market overflows with fresh produce, cheeses, olives, herbs, flowers and charm. A 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 maximum 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, including Pierre Magnani, who cultivates 54 varieties of forgotten tomato strains in the hills above Nice. At his stand you will rub shoulders with the best local chefs, buying his multicolored tomatoes for Salade Caprese among other mouth-watering creations. You can make a superb picnic lunch of Pierre’s tomatoes, local cheeses, a mix of olives, a slice of duck pate and a crusty baguette, and then head up to the Chateau for a picnic on a sunny bench with a stunning view of Old Nice and the Bay of Angels.
To augment your market purchases, click here for more Food Finds in the Old Town.
The Cours Saleya market runs from Tues-Sun, and whereas the food area is open only in the morning, the flower section stays open all day for your strolling pleasure. The fabulous Nice flower market is a holdover from when Nice was the carnation-growing capital of France, and sent its flowers all over Europe.
On Mondays, Cours Saleya turns into a sprawling Antique Market or ‘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, and you will have the best luck bargaining as they start to pack up around 4pm. (Insider tip: always start with “Bonjour Monsieur/Madame” before inquiring about any price. Otherwise you will be seen as less-than-polite, which will be reflected in the bargaining range!) The prices start rather high but deals 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. Since the brocante goes all day (until 4pm), this is the best day to have lunch on Cours Saleya, as on food market days the garbage trucks and fire hoses turn up mid-lunch which kind of spoils the ambiance! If you’re not around Nice on a Monday, there is another at Place Garibaldi on the third Saturday of each month, and 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 little villages, click here for a list in English.
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 café tables and restaurants.
Admittedly, the Cours Saleya market is touristy, so if you want to go more local, hop on the tramway line 1 for 10 minutes to the Liberation stop. This is the least expensive open-air produce market in Nice, and full of colorful characters to boot. The Liberation daily market also boasts a covered meat market with stalls selling everything from wonderful to ‘offal’, plus Nice’s biggest and best fish market (see below). Open Tuesday-Sunday, 8am to 1pm.
The daily Morning Fish Market in Old Nice has been operating around the Place Saint-Francoise fish fountain for centuries, where the seagulls keep a close watch and the weathered old fishmongers delight in telling you their preferred preparation.
On weekends only, you can buy fresh oysters (huitres) at the Cours Saleya market. The young enterprising producer, Benjamin Ciano, makes an 8-hour round-trip drive every Saturday and then again on Sunday, to bring these beauties direct from his oyster beds in Bouzigues (near Montpellier) directly to Nice. For a small supplement he’ll even open them for you, and he has a little table set up behind his stand in case you want to slurp them right there, with a glass of white wine.
But the biggest and best fish market in Nice is at the daily Marche de la Liberation (Tram stop Liberation, just after the train station stop) where the energy is dynamic and the selection is vast.
As mentioned above, this market also features produce and a covered meat market, and is a much more local experience than Cours Saleya, less expensive, and much less crowded. Open Tues-Sun, 8am-1pm.
More open air markets in Nice:
Palais de Justice in the Old Town (tram stop Opera)
- 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 (tram stop Garibaldi)
- 1st Saturday: Local Arts and Crafts
- 3rd Saturday: Brocante/Antiques
Open-Air Markets 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.
Just across the border in Italy…
And finally, no page on open-air markets would be complete without a mention of the famous Friday Market Day in Ventimiglia, just across the border in Italy, the last stop on the French train line. It’s an all-day affair each Friday, and although the police have (mostly) chased away the counterfeit designer bag men, it’s still worth going not only for the discounted délectables, 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. Click here for a page on Taking the Train to Italy.
See Related Pages:
- French Grocery Store Tips including best Organic Markets
- Food Finds in the Old Town
- Vintage and Thrift Store Shopping in Old Nice
- Antique Shopping in Nice
- How to Shop like a Local
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