A Gourmet’s Paradise in this Famous Market!
Wandering round Narbonne’s famous indoor food market, your senses are hit with myriad pleasures: the opulent and heady aromas of freshly ground coffee, the inviting homely waft of croissants straight out of the oven, the buzz of morning banter from the stall holders chatting with the regulars, the jewel bright colours of succulent fruit and vegetables, the wicked reek of maturing cheese, flower stalls brimming with seasonal plants, silver bellied fish lain out on ice, red and pink hued meat hanging from hooks, light glinting off polished bottles of local wine, sacks of exotic spices threatening to spill over, vendors busily preparing pizzas, paellas or chow meins for the lunchtime rush, the visible pride of traders who have one thing in common – a real love of real food!
How many traders?
There are 72 traders and artisans with permanent stalls at Les Halles – including at least one stall which has been occupied by generations of the same family since the market was opened in 1901! Dedicated to providing the city with the best quality produce, the stall holders convene every day from 6 am to 1 pm to take part in this important daily event which almost seems to define Narbonne. Indeed, local people are quite right to be proud of their famous market, which also represents part of the hard-won modernisation of the city at the turn of the 20th century. The beautiful pavilion was originally conceived of in 1871, as a sensible way to house the ever-expanding and inconvenient outdoor market.
However, political and financial difficulties meant that the project was delayed, and it was only in 1894 that there was a definitive vote for its construction and, following an extensive search for the right architect, Andre Gabelle’s design was chosen in 1898. Even then, with various obstacles such as finding the right architect for the job, construction was blighted with numerous planning issues before the market could finally be inaugurated in 1st January 1901 .
Now, over a hundred years on, Les Halles is an institution, and no visit to Narbonne could be complete without experiencing its charm. Throughout the year there are various food related festivals and tastings held here, as well as different demonstrations and informative displays organised here by numerous groups highlighting the environmental and economic importance of locally sourced produce.
Visitors looking to see real life in the South of France will not be disappointed in coming here – not only will they find great quality regional produce at a good price but they will also be struck by the sublime role this market plays in the life of Narbonne.