One of the most famous markets in the region of Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur is Cours Saleya in the old town of Nice. But in fact there are two wonderful markets of Nice and most visitors miss one of them.
Cours Saleya market Nice
There’s been a market here for well over a century and in fact if you look at photos from the late 1800s and compare them to photos taken today, you’ll see that by and large, not much has changed and that is certainly part of its charm.
Pretty and typically southern French striped awnings shade the stalls from the sunshine that beats down 300 days a year. This market with its colourful displays of food from Tuesday to Saturday lures tourists like bees to a honey pot. As a result it’s pretty packed most of the time and really busy in peak season. That doesn’t make it any less fun, it’s vibrant, noisy and terrific.
On a Sunday you’ll find a flower market here plus some food stalls. On a Monday it becomes a huge antiques market with an eclectic mix of tat, valuables and reproduction goods.
At the far end of the market (looking away from Place Massena) is a beautiful tall yellow coloured house. It was here that the artist Matisse lived for while and where he was inspired by the colours he saw from his top floor balcony overlooking the Bay of Angels.
Liberation Market Nice
If you want to visit an authentic market, one where the locals shop for their food, hop on the tram from the old town to Stop Liberation. And if you want to sound like a local, call this one la Libé. If you walk to it from Cours Saleya it’s about a mile, and you’ll build up an appetite.
If you’re lucky you may encounter Giorgio who shops here. An ex opera singer of about 90 years, he loves to sing and often startles tourists who venture this way. As his still powerful voice fills the street and he sings the last line “Viva Viva Nicois”, passers-by join in, unable to resist the favourite song of Nice. Giorgio loves an audience and if any pretty girls are close by he will draw his tiny frame up straight, pucker his lips and cry “oh mon coeur” patting his heart – a true performer!
Inside the market is happy pandemonium. Dogs on leads, fast-talking servers, people queuing at their favourite meat, cheese, veg, fish, bread and more stall. It’s a great place to take a break and rub shoulders with the locals and the stall holders.
If you want to fit in, order an apero of pastis or Nice’s favourite tipple, rosé wine, and sit at Le Riviera Cave café in the market, watching the string of customers at the aptly named ‘triperie’ butchers. There’s a lively atmosphere, the hum of conversation is loud and constant. As I stood there enjoying this typically Nice spectacle from a table at Le Riviera, a skinny man with a wonky brown haired toupée surveyed the market. He and his mates were sipping pastis with relish and all had bags of veg and fruit which they tenderly placed on the bar stools instead of their bums while they leaned against the bar. The bar clock has the words “prendre du mon temps” across it which means “I take my time”. I couldn’t sum it up better, it’s a lovely market in which to take your time.