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Veal, beef and pork yet also rare poultry, exceptional butters, strawberries, apples, carrots and much more; The Brittany soil is proving very fertile and generous. No wonder its capital, Rennes, is home to some famous markets.
There are twenty. Twenty markets in Rennes itself. Then there are more than double if we add those in the agglomeration. Thus, from Monday to Sunday, markets spring up around the city, each named after the neighbourhood where it takes place, here Mail, Lices and Saint Teresa... they all have specialities and character.
On Saturday morning, Rennes converges on Place des Lices. Sprawling under two magnificent halls, the oldest and largest market in the city is surely one of the most attractive in France.
Before the main event, gourmands fill their baskets at the Halles Centrales, the true "belly" of Rennes. There, every day from 8 am to 7 pm, about thirty traders serve fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, cheese, groceries, bread, flowers and more in the shelter of a beautiful early 20th century building.
Journaliste culinaire… Parler de bonne bouffe, rencontrer des chefs, écrire sur les produits locaux. On connaît des métiers plus désagréables. A Rennes, Olivier Marie est connu comme le loup blanc dans toutes les cuisines, ou presque. Surtout celles qu’il défend de sa plume : la gastronomie de qualité, qui manie des produits locaux, frais et de saison. Tous les Rennais savent qu’ils ont l’embarras du choix pour bien manger dans leur ville. On a donc rencontré l’un de ceux qui en parlent le mieux, pour vous mettre l’eau à la bouche.
Since May 2015, the Mail François Mitterrand hosts a 100% organic market every Wednesday afternoon. This rendezvous is very popular with the people of Rennes. The same day in the morning, at the Sainte-Thérèse market, the choice of regional chefs, also aligns stalls certified by the well-known AB (organic agriculture) logo.
Organic products are also put on display on Tuesday at Beauregard and Bruz, Saturday and Wednesday in Cesson, Le Rheu, La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz, Acigné, Pacé and on Sunday in Betton, on the outskirts of Rennes.
A market in each neighbourhood, each with its own atmosphere and spirit. On Saturday, the Blosne, one of the cheapest in Rennes, is a mix of local products and exotic foods. In the city centre, the Saint-Germain market is more intimate with just a dozen traders. Still, from the crack of dawn on Wednesday, locals flock to the stalls of excellent market gardeners, the fresh fish of the monger, and in front of the truck of the dexterous crepiere.
These scenes are repeated throughout the week in all districts of Rennes: on Tuesday in Alphonse Guérin-Robidou, Cleunay-Arsenal-Redon and Maurepas-Patton; Thursday in Bréquigny, Jeanne d’Arc-Longs Champs-Atalante and Bourg L’Evêque-La Touche-Moulin du Compte, and on Friday in La Poterie and Villejean-Beauregard !
Every day at the Halles and on Saturday at the Lices markets, Paul and his son Olivier Renault, breeders from Louvigné-de-Bais, sell their Coucou de Rennes chicken, iconic poultry saved from extinction with the help of the Pays de Rennes eco-museum, who did not want to see this exceptional Breton race disappear.
Why so unique? Because they are free range, fed on grass, GMO-free selected grains and whey and because they are killed after 150 days when the standard chicken is only 35 days old while Red Label is 81 days old. From October to December, the Renault family also offer their sublime Egyptian pullets, fed on dates and apricots, among other good things.
Jean-Yves Bordier fell into the churn when he was just a young boy. Beyond the classic unsalted, half-salted, or salted, this tireless inventor has given butter some unexpected flavors: yuzu, algae, Madagascar vanilla, fennel, smoked salt then much more. His classic and flavoured butters are favoured by the best bistros and many great chefs.
On a piece of bread, with fish or in a mash, and even alone, allowed to dissolve on the palate, Bordier butters claim back nobility for one of the most typical products of the Breton table. At the Halles Centrales.
Annie Bertin's stalls at the Lices and Bruz markets reflect herself: discreet. Yet her organic herbs and vegetables are very much loved by chefs (Bras, Roellinger, Guérin, Barbot, Etcheverry and others). Annie Bertin, working for 35 years from her family farm land in Vendel, is passionate about and a reference of seasonal produce. For those who like young shoots of aromatic herbs and salads, there are all kinds of radishes, carrots of different varieties, of heirloom tomatoes, field beans, shanghai cabbage, bronze fennel, chioggia beets, shiso, Amaranth etc.