Elyse Kopecky is an Oregonian living, working and playing outdoors in Geneva, Switzerland. She’s a passionate foodie lifestyle blogger who enjoys inspiring friends to live fresh. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at www.freshabits.com and @freshabits.
Farmer Market Update: Beaune, France
by Elyse Kopecky
Beaune is a historic ville surrounded by vineyards and small organic farms spread across rolling hills. It’s known as the wine and gastronomic capital of the Burgundy region, and for good reason. The tiny town comes alive on Saturdays with an impressive local food market featuring specialties from the Burgundy region.
I have a passion for farmers markets (borderline obsession) and often drag my husband to obscure places just to check out the local market. I first fell in love with Beaune in March when my husband and I planned a fun Burgundy-wine-and-cooking weekend excursion to celebrate our 7th anniversary.
My husband and I returned for a second visit this June. Our trip was well timed. The bountiful spring harvest had begun, and the stands in the market were packed with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. I loved all the variations of fresh berries, including wild sweet strawberries, tart currants, blackberries, and cherries.
The Beaune farmers market takes over a historic square in the heart of the walled old town and overflows into the surrounding cobbled side streets. Within the square there is a well-worn covered food market where you’ll find the butchers, artisan cheese makers, and fishmongers setting up shop.
Don’t be alarmed that the meat actually resembles the animal, meaning the chickens, ducks, and pigs still have their endearing heads attached. That’s how the French spot quality and freshness.
Outside, the square is packed with rows of tables where the farmers sell everything from seasonal produce to olives, dried herbs, cured meats, farm-fresh eggs, crusty baguettes, creamy honey, hand-pressed oils, freshly picked flowers, and of course Burgundy wine (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the specialties of the region).
One of my favorite stops was the stand of a young organic farmer from the Ferme duJointout, where they grow a rotation of seasonal vegetables and raise grass-fed goats and sheep. By the time my husband and I got to the Jointout stand, all that remained were a small selection of cheeses and a few bouquets of herbs, spring greens, and lettuces. With dirt from his farm caked beneath his fingernails, the young farmer looked as if he had arrived at the market straight from the field. A sure sign of farm-to-table!
I bought one of his last heads of deep purple romaine lettuce and my favorite chevre frais (goat cheese). The chevre frais was the first item we polished off when we arrived back at our home in Geneva. The Jointout artisan cheeses are so fresh and creamy that they alone are worth driving to Beaune to discover.
The French are serious about their food. They will happily talk about their produce, where it comes from, how it was grown, and how best to prepare (cook in butter, top with cream of course!).
Burgundy is proudly a leading region for organic food (called agriculture biologique) and most of the surrounding farms open their doors to visitors (you can buy half a lamb directly from the farm). Although, you do have to be careful that you’re buying from the “producers” and not the “traders,” just as you have to be in any market in Europe, but the traders are fairly easy to spot because their stands are usually full of bananas and pineapples, items clearly not native to France.
I made my way up and down every aisle and easily filled my basket to its brim. Luckily I had my husband tagging along to carry the load.
Here’s what we purchased:
- wild strawberries
- charentais melon (French variety)
- baby potatoes
- green dried lentils
- wild asparagus
- romaine lettuce
- rhubarb stalks
- coeur de boeuf tomatoes
- sunflower honey
- chevre frais
- whole grain baguette
- Burgundy Pinot Noir
Thankfully, Beaune is an easy two-hour drive from Geneva. My husband and I are already planning a return visit during the fall harvest. You can read more here to explore the impressive organic farmers and winegrowers in the Burgundy region.