As well as regular markets, you should also keep an eye out for foires – monthly markets that are larger than the weekly ones, with a greater number of traders and choice of products and sometimes even amusements such as fairground rides. They are held on a regular day of the month – such as the second Saturday or the 12th.
Vide Greniers – attic clear-outs and the French equivalent of car-boot sales – are also worth a visit even if you’re not in need of an antique wash jug. While the larger towns may have a regular vide grenier, most will hold them annually, often during the late spring and summer months. They are advertised by signs, often home-made, stuck along verges and on lamp-posts.
Night markets are another big event. Held in summer they tend to take over an entire town with stalls mingling with outdoor cafes. While there will be stalls selling sweets and saucisson, they will rarely sell fresh fruit and vegetables. The emphasis at night markets is on jewellery, clothes and art and crafts.
If you’re in the Poitou-Charentes over the festive season, it is also worth keeping your eye out for Christmas markets, which will set up shop for the weeks leading up to Christmas Day or just for a weekend.
Best markets in the Poitou-Charentes
Closer to home - there is a nice fruit and veg market in Aulnay on a Sunday morning. The market in St Jean D'Angely is also well worth a visit - Wednesday and Saturday mornings; but go early - it's over by 1pm.
Further away - If you can, aim for one of these - you won't be disappointed:
Rouillac: For the past couple of centuries a market has been held in Rouillac on the 27th of each month, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. The market (or more accurately the foire or fair) takes over the entire town with the streets filling with stalls. It is a seriously foodie market so here you will find products not found elsewhere such as vinegars made with pineau and unusual chutneys and pickles. As well as the full range of food stalls, there are those selling live produce, from chickens and rabbits to donkeys plus all kinds of household items including the French kitchen staple – the oil cloth tablecloth - garden plants and equipment and much, much more. It's open throughout lunch – when many stallholders place small trestle tables and chairs in front of their stall and eat, drink and be merry! - but the busiest time is between 10.30am-noon. Rouillac is just 26 miles Villemorin.
Angoulême: The market at Place Victor Hugo in Angoulême is where the locals go shopping. It's on every day but the big day is Sunday when it's really busy with stalls, specialst producers and people seeking out something special for Sunday lunch. Angoulême is around 43 miles / one hour from Villemorin.
Poitiers: Poitiers covered market which also spreads outside on Fridays and Saturdays. Plenty of stalls selling meat and fish plus fruit, vegetables, herbs and bric-a-brac. Poitiers is around 55 miles/ 1 hour 25 minutes from Villemorin.
La Rochelle: 'Nestled amongst the narrow, cobbled streets of the Old Town is the lively food market which offers a delightful array of delicious local produce. As a coastal town it is unsurprising to discover plenty of fresh seafood, from piles of langoustines to inky black squid on beds of ice. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the market spills out onto the square and the side streets where every inch is taken up by a different stall. One stall expertly lays out a variety of creamy goats cheese in all shapes and sizes. The log shaped “Chèvre à la Coupe” and cone shaped “Chabichou du Poitou” are specialities in this region. By the square lies an indoor market hall which dates back to the 19th century, so for generations this market has been the place for locals to meet up and shop.' By Anika Patel from the La Rochelle-based cookery school Flavours of France. La Rochelle is 52 miles / around 1 hour 10 minutes from Villemorin.
Saintes: the covered market on the river at Saintes spreads out into the small street outside the cathedral for a market that is both bustling and charming. Market days are Wednesdays and Saturdays. Royan market has the usual excellent fresh produce, all houses under a dramatic shell-shaped building, a striking example of modernist architecture built during the town's 1950s reconstruction. The market is open seven days a week from 7am-1pm but it’s best to get there early– before 10am – to see it at its bustling best as locals come to buy not just fresh fruit and vegetables but also the freshest catch of the day. Saintes is 29 miles/ 45 minutes from Villemorin.
Chatellion, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, Meschers, Rivedoux, La Rochelle, Royan.
Ars-en-Re, Beauvais-sur Matha, La Blois-Plage-en-Re, Chatellion, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, Gemozac, Jonzac, Loix-en Re, Marans, Marennes, Les Mathes, Meschers, Rivedoux, Rochefort, La Rochelle, Royan, St-Denis-d’Oleron, Saintes, St-Fort-sur-Gironde, St-Martin-de-Re, St-Palais-sur-Mer, St-Pierre-d’Oleron, St-Trojan-les-Bains,St-Xandre, Saujon, Surgres, Vaux-sur-Mer.
Ars-en-Re, La Bree-les-Bains, Chaniers, Chatellion, La Couarde-sur-Mer, Couron, Cozes, Chillais, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, Meschers, Mornac-sur-Seudre, Pons, Port-des-Barques, Les Portes-en-Re, Rivedoux, La Rochelle, Royan, Saintes, St Georges-des-Coteaux, St-Jean-d’Angely, St-Porchaire, St-Sulpice-de-Royan.
Third Wednesday in the month, Montguyon.
Ars-en-Re, Beauvais-sur-Matha. le Blois-Plage-en-Re, Chatellion, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, La Jarrie, Marennes, Meschers, Montendre, Rochefort, La Rochelle, Port-d’Envaux, Royan, St-Denis-d’Oleron, Saintes, St-Martin-de-Re, St-Palais-sur-Mer, St-Pierre-d’Oleron, St-Trojan-les-Bains, Saujon, Surgeres.
First,Third and Fourth Thursdays in the month, St-Genis-de-Saintonge.
Ars-en-Re, Aytre, La Bree-les-Bains, Chatellion, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, Gemozac, Jonzac, Loix-en Re, Loulay, Matha, Les Mathes, Meschers, Nieulle-sur-Seudre, Pont-l’Abbey-d’Arnoult, La Rochelle, Royan, Saintes.
Aigrefeuille-d’Aunis, Angoulins-sur-Mer, Archiac, Ars-en-Re, Le Bois-Plage-en-Re, Chaniers, Chatellion, Chevanceaux, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, Marans, Marennes, Matha, Meschers, Montguyon, Pons, Rivedoux, Rochefort, La Rochelle, Royan, St-Denis-d’Oleron, Saintes, St-Fort-sur-Gironde, St-Georges-d’Oleron, St-Jean-d’Angely, St-Martin-de-Re, St-Palais-sur-Mer, St-Pierre-d’Oleron, St-Savinien, St-Trojan-les-Bains, Saujon, Surgeres, Tonnay-Charente, La Tremblade, Vaux-sur-Mer.
Every other Saturday, Mirambeau.
Ars-en-Re, Aulnay-de-Saintonge, Bourcefranc, La Bree-les-Bains, Le Chateau d’Oleron, Chatellion, La Flotte-en-Re, Fouras, Matha, Meschers, Nieul-sur-Mer, Pons, Port-des-Barques, Les Portes-en-Re, La Rochelle, Royan, Saintes, St-Fort-sur-Gironde, St-Pierre-d’Oleron, St-Xandre, Tonnay-Charente.
[the above is based on information we have gathered from various websites - please let us know if you see any errors]