French markets are top-of-the-crops in Northern France

A trip to Northern France isn’t complete without visiting a typical French market, agreed? Big on taste and a feast for all the senses, here’s our pick
In the country where even food is UNESCO-listed, it should come as no surprise that French markets are something of a serious business. For the locals – and all the generations before them ‒  it’s simply the normal way to shop, whilst for visitors it’s a chance not only to taste the ‘terroir’ but also to observe (and join in with!) France’s unmistakable joie-de-vivre. Get your slice of the passion just over the Channel in Northern France – be it at coastal Calais, Boulogne, Le Touquet or Wissant, at a vibrant metropolis like Amiens or Lille, or at an off-the-beaten-track foodie destination like Montreuil-sur-Mer or St Quentin. 
Stroll around the typical outdoor French market and you’ll discover not just spilling stalls of Northern France staples (apples, pears, summer fruits, carrots, chicory and cauliflower are all widely produced here) – but produce that’s just about as fresh, organic and local as it could possibly be. And with every food market modelling a sustainable sense of field-to-farm-to-fork, you could say the natives have been practising low carbon footprint for generations. 
And whilst you’ll find classic French food at all of them – bounteous counters of fish, charcuterie, baguettes, compotes, farm-produced cheeses, and all the other specialities we associate with eating well in France ─ each market in Northern France has its own unique flavours too: Arras for its tripe, St-Valery-sur-Somme for its very own brioche-like gâteau battu or Dunkirk for its fine array of tasty Flemish beers. 
The people of Northern France, you’ll notice, are all foodie connoisseurs – it’s in their DNA ─ with shoppers prodding and smelling the colourful fruit and vegetables with all the care you’d expect them to take sampling a fine wine. And it’s not just every Tom, Dick and Jacques stocking up their larder either ─ you’ll also find renowned restaurant chefs milling about and buying at source the very best of local produce f
or their restaurant menus.
Above all else, what sets French markets apart is that they’re not just functional affairs, they’re often the social highlight of the week for locals getting together. And beware… the convivial atmosphere of your classic market in Northern France is contagious: before long you’ll be striking up franglais conversations with local producers, adding new words to your French repertoire like Potjevleesch (cold meats in a jar), Maroilles (one of the pungents on Northern France’s cheeseboard), maybe even a cheeky ‘chin-chin!’
With warm wafts emitted at every turn, you won’t want to wait until you get home to taste the Northern France goodies. Grab a tempting treat as you weave your way round the market, soak up French café society with a pre-lunch apéritif, or indulge in a long restaurant lunch where the fruits of the market are transformed ─ with a little twist of Northern France magic of course ─ into delicious dishes of regional cuisine. Limitless inspiration for knocking up something new chez vous? Bon appétit!