A race round Le Mans market

March 25, 2011

I’m back in France at my mum’s just now, and had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Le Mans at the beginning of the week. Yes, we all know it’s where the 24-hour car race takes place, but really, there is so much more to this beautiful medieval city.

On my last morning there, I had just enough time to nip down to the marché des Jacobins (every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, from 7.30am to 12.30pm) to see what the local stall-holders had to offer. Located under the gaze of the stunning St Julien cathedral, it has to be one of the most beautifully located markets ever.

In other respects, it’s a fairly typical market, but, of course, typical rarely means boring when it comes to French produce. This is a funny time of year for fresh fruit and veg – the last of the winter stuff well and truly over, and the delights of spring not quite kicking in. But, still, the market was pretty much busting at the seams with lovely looking food.

Radishes being one of my favourite nibbles, I couldn’t resist buying a large bunch of the crunchy gems, pictured below. Just behind them is a kind of salad called mâche, something you don’t see very often in the UK. It’s one of my mum’s favourites, so a large bag of that was purchased, too. We also bought some dandelion leaves, which were dotted with tiny buds of the flower and had a surprisingly sweet flavour.

As well as the fresh stuff, there were inevitably a number of stalls selling bread. I noticed that a lot of places in Le Mans sold what was called traditional baguette, and when I tried some, I realised it was a kind of levain baguette. And delicious it was, too.

Despite being pretty restrained with our purchases, once Mum and I got home, we realised we did have rather a large amount of lettuce-y type things to munch through. So, for lunch today, I made a large salad of mâche, dandelion leaves, radishes, chicory, celery and cherry tomatoes.

I rustled up smoked salmon omelettes, with herbs from Mum’s garden, to eat alongside the salad, and, with the sun shining and temperatures heading towards 20 degrees, we sat outside for what felt like the first summer lunch of the year. Lovely.

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5 Responses to “A race round Le Mans market”

  1. Janice Says:

    ooh how lovely, that huge pile of radishes look amazing.


  2. And they tasted as good as they looked, Janice – didn’t take us long to scoff the lot!

  3. hopeeternal Says:

    Thank you for bringing back memories! We visited this lovely market at Le Mans two or three years ago. From memory we bought some cheese (no surprise there), but the market was starting to pack up as French markets often do around midday. I could just fancy some of that wonderful looking bread but I will have to wait until we go to France in July – *sigh*.
    hopeeternal
    ‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’


  4. Hi Hopeeternal, glad I was able to remind you of good times in France. There really is nothing like a hunk of baguette slathered with some French cheese, and, of course, a hefty glass of delicious French wine. Are you heading back to Le Mans this year? If so, keep an eye out for my guide to Le Mans, which will be appearing in the Sunday Telegraph some time in the next month or so.

    • hopeeternal Says:

      French bread with cheese and a glass of red too – wonderful! (Discovered Chaorce last year which is delicious.) We are not going anywhere near Le Mans this year but are heading towards Roussillon and into NE Spain. The nearest we get is Mantes la Jolie and Orleans. I’d have been interested to read your article so will have to think about who I know might take the Sunday Telegraph.
      h/e


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