The number of choices you have at the markets in France is amazing!
In Nice, you have your choice of 2 big marchés, every day (except Mondays)—the one in Cours Salaya and the one at Liberation. The one at Cours Salaya in the Old Town is the one you see in all the photos of Nice, but the one at Liberation is probably 3 times the size.
They both have a lot of the same things–the Old Town market has a lot more flower vendors and people selling soaps and souvenirs. There is a fish market and butchers, but they’re a short walk away.
The marché at Liberation has a whole long block with nothing but fish mongers and besides blocks and blocks of vegetable stands, there are butchers and cheese mongers in the covered market there.
After a few visits, you start to know who has what, and that’s where the choices start.
We were at Liberation, working our way to the butchers (great merguez and 3 different grinders for beef, including one just for steak tartare) and stopped to get some spinach. Besides the spinach, this guy had 5 different heads of lettuce. When I asked him for some, he gave me a complete description of the differences between each one. One was soft and sweet, one was sturdier, one was somewhere in the middle, etc. I ended up with the middle one but went for the softer and sweeter one the next time (and it was softer and much more flavorful).
Further down, while my friend was getting some potatoes, I noticed a board behind the potatoes with 15, yes 15 different ways to cook potatoes and the best type of potatoes for each preparation. Mona Lisa and Charlotte seemed to be the most versatile—and who wouldn’t want to love a potato called Mona Lisa?
We’ve also been trying to work our way though the various types of clementines. Some local, some from Corsica, Portugal, Spain, Israel—so far, the Portuguese ones are winning, but there are plenty more where those came from.
Another one of my favorites, that I’m happy to keep tasting—artichokes. There are small purple ones that come in bunches, larger purple ones, and green ones in all sorts of sizes from small to the size of your head. So far, the one the size of my head was the tastiest (and also the most expensive as you pay by weight), but there are plenty more choices to be made.
And the choices don’t end at the marché (rememeber this is a country with over 400 cheeses) even the toilet has choices…1 for 1, 2 for 2.