There is nothing more enjoyable then coming across an open-air market, tucked in among busy city streets, and offering hidden treasures and experiences that simply are not available in typical retail settings. I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated by open-air markets, and thus, they are almost always included in my culinary vacations. Paris, especially, has some of the most colorful and famous selections of local offerings that delight me every time I visit. The endless rows of fresh flowers, and the smell of sweet, baked baguettes, are enough to make me forget about home and want to just stay put…forever.
Almost all of my planned 2012 culinary vacation itineraries include sightseeing daytrips to fresh, open-air markets. They each provide quite the adventure! It’s at these markets where you can really sink your teeth into local culture and it’s during our cooking classes that you will realize just how valuable they are to all of the local chefs. Bakers, fishermen, farmers, craftsmen, candle makers, florists, and many other talented merchants gather at these markets daily to showcase their finds and offer their specialties. It’s also where many of the local chefs go to purchase their ingredients. Items such as fresh produce and homegrown herbs, exotic spices, farmhouse cheeses, freshly baked breads, the catch of the day, and so much more, are lined up for everyone to smell, see, and touch.
The excitement I feel when walking through a market never fades. It is both wonderful and mysterious at the same time. Even in my hometown of Montreal, I love visiting the open-air markets where I can shop for items that are uniquely authentic and especially love finding those wonderful tasting treats. It’s during these occasions when I can sit under the sun at a nearby terrace, order a glass of wine and soak up the excitement and energy around me.
My upcoming gourmet travel adventures all include excursions to local markets. They offer the opportunity for us to “leave the kitchen” and explore nearby culture. It’s truly a highlight of all of my culinary vacations. Paris will surely include this later this year when I travel there for my upcoming 2012 Paris culinary tour.
Likewise, my Tuscany culinary journey and my Amalfi Coast culinary journey will not disappoint. The Amalfi Coast has endless open-air markets tucked away in the towns and villages of its picturesque cliffs; Tuscany, as well, offers some of the most unique markets to be found. The local chefs with whom we will be spending our time with, will take us to some of these local markets where we will choose the ingredients for the meals we prepare.
If you are traveling abroad and have a newfound interest in seeking out local open-air markets to visit, locating these finds is just a click away. Most of the popular, well-visited open-air markets are listed online. Paris, specifically, has more than 70 neighborhood markets that can be found by doing a simple search. Planning ahead makes your gourmet travel experience even more worth the while.
Learn how life really is lived and venture out into the open air. It’s an experience you will never forget and you will surely find a treasure to bring back home.
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, divorced, widowed and solo travelers seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India.