One of the little miracles in the Old Town of Nice, France, is the Market. On Monday, an antiques flea market brings together a lot of haggling. By late afternoon, we saw books and bric a brac that didn’t sell everywhere, some of it abandoned. But, two hours later, with a massive cleaning effort, enclosed sidewalk cafes, many serving the finest seafood, all pop up in that same space. They serve dinner late, but need to dismantle everything quickly to ready for the biggest event there, which is the Tuesday through Sunday “Flower Market”, which actually is a lot more than that. The Market, which is more fruits and veggies than flowers, starts, under striped awnings, at 5 a.m. but closes, except for some flower sellers, in the early afternoon, so the restaurants can set up each night.
The Market on Cours Saleya started out as the world’s first wholesale cut flower operation. Flowers were cut on the hills above Nice, beginning in 1897, and brought down, first to be sold to wholesalers. They would then send the flowers by train all over Europe. Today, it seems mostly retail, but its extremely colorful, displays are beautiful, selection is unusual by US expectations and prices seem reasonable.
Many of these flower sellers work the street all day, several hours longer than the produce sellers.
The fruit and vegetables get the most activity. We aren’t sure where they all come from, but there are differences suggesting numerous sources and farms. Just to pick some things for breakfast fruit and dinner vegetables, we might stop at a half dozen vendors. Maybe only one will have blueberries (they were said to be local) or another may have the best looking mangos we have seen (they were from Brazil). There were many varieties, shapes and colors of tomatoes. We picked one variety that really stood out, and they were outstanding. We found only one vendor with Romanescu (cross between cauliflower and broccoli). There were many varieties of apples and vendors happy to cut you a taste. Best of all, we found almost everything (maybe except for the price of bananas) to be fresh, tasty and cheaper than produce in the US.