Talensac market is a real institution in Nantes: it’s undoubtedly the best known and most visited; its history (it celebrates its 80th birthday in 2017) and location in the heart of the city make it an iconic place which is incredibly popular with Nantes’ residents. Open every morning from 7am to 1pm (although not on Mondays), nearly 150 stallholders are sure to offer a warm welcome.
Whenever I stroll around the market’s colourful stalls, it feels like time stops. I always head there on a Sunday. I love going towards the end of the market, at around 12.30pm: it’s the ideal time to make the most of great offers (especially at the fish stall) and there are slightly fewer people. If you want to enjoy some quiet browsing, I recommend going on a weekday morning.
There’s a vast range of smells – roast chicken, cheese, Asian cooking, fish, bread which has just come out of the oven – and the market is always filled with smiling people, whether they’re shopkeepers or visitors. You can meet food producers and farmers from Nantes and the surrounding area who all offer fresh, seasonal and quality produce: fruit and vegetables, certified meat and poultry, charcuterie and local specialities, pre-prepared dishes, fish and seafood, deli products, baked goods, cheese, pâtisserie, wines from the Loire valley, Italian, Chinese, Indian food and more. In short, it’s a feast for the senses!
A must-do when the weather’s mild (which happens more often than you might think in Nantes!): finish off your visit to the market with a drink out on the terrace (the market has plenty of cafes) – most are happy for you to sit down and enjoy some of the oysters or sausage you’ve bought at the market. I like to visit Bateau Lavoir (which is closed in winter), a few minutes’ walk away down the Cours des 50-Otages road. On Sundays, its offer a service for anyone coming back from the market: with butter, pickles, homemade mayonnaise and paper napkins at your disposal, along with knives to cut your cheese or charcuterie and to open your oysters. Not bad, eh?