+44 (0)7831 626 767
'Les Halles Diderot' is the best quality indoor food market in Roanne, and probably in the whole of Le Roannais.
Good food is generally not hard to come by in France, whether form village markets or your local 'supermarché'. Fresh produce in particular is of high quality, and seasonal (something we seemed to have forgotten in the UK!).
However, there are lots of little 'gems' that if I didn't know better I would suspect the French were trying to keep it to themselves!
One such delight is an indoor market in our local town of Roanne – called 'Les Halles Diderot'.
Hidden away on the outskirts of the main shopping area, you would certainly pass by without giving it much of a glance – as in fact we, ourselves, must have done for some 7 years or more until one of our French friends asked if we had shopped there.
'Les Halles' also has the advantage of being open on a Sunday morning when it is a bustle of the local French shopping for their family gatherings that seem to be the norm.
My favourite stall has to be Maison Pralus – a famous local chocolatier and patisserie (though their produce can be found as far away as Fortnum and Mason in London).
They sell a wide range of the most gorgeous, very beautiful and tempting pastries and cakes – virtual works of art in themselves, and totally mouth-watering!
Pralus is also famous for a regional treat that I had never tried for years, but once tasted you cannot get enough!
This is called 'Praluline'. It's a brioche type base which is studded with crispy morsels of sugar-coated hazelnut. They look a little bizarre at first because of their pinky colouring, but sold freshly baked, they are absolutely gorgeous!
Everything they sell (they also have a couple of shops in the main town) is wrapped delightfully, and makes a perfect gift for an afternoon rendezvous with friends.
Oh! and I almost forgot, yet another of their specialities – that you can also buy around the region from other shops/producers (but none taste quite as amazing as the Pralus originals) are mini almond macaroons that come in a rainbow of colours and flavours, from pistachio to lemon, and very colour in between, including chocolate, of course!
Enough of the 'sweet' . Let me talk cheese.
Les Halles also boasts, arguably, the best 'fromagerie' in the region – 'Maison Mons'.
This fantastic family-run business supply most of the top restaurants in Roanne, and the surrounding area, including the famous 3 Michelin-starred restaurant – 'Troisgros'.
You can wander around the extensive displays of both local and international cheeses (at Christmas time they even sell English 'stilton' – extremely rare for France!), or you can chat to the pristinely-dressed owners and they will put together the most fantastic selection for you, beautifully arranged on vine leaves in a round wooden box.
Nothing ever seems to be too much trouble for shopkeepers over here. They are proud of their produce, and want you to enjoy and appreciate it!
One of our French friends, when feeling particularly lazy, has gone along to 'Le Mons' and chosen a superb selection of cheeses, and we have then had the most amazing 'tasting' accompanied with nothing more than some excellent bread, and the obligatory white and red wine.(Well, we might also have ended the meal with a fruit tart from Maison Pralus!!)
For the non-vegetarians amonst you there is also one of the best 'boucheries' in the area, here at Les halles.
Again, the most helpful of staff – a family business, they always seem to have so much pride in what they do.
It can be a bit confusing buying joints of meat here, as they all seem to be slightly different from that sold in the UK .
I remember panicking the first time I bought a leg of lamb from Monsieur Séon. I pointed to the one I wanted and asked in my best French explaining that it was for 8-9 people.
He promptly took it form the counter and into the back preparation area of the shop where I could see him slicing away at my large leg of lamb!
Unable to protest, I was now, in my mind, quickly trying re-adjust my evening menu to cater for diced lamb instead!
When he returned he had, in fact, skilfully trimmed all the fat and skin off the meat, which, I must admit, I was still a little unsure about.
But, I have to say, that once studded with garlic and rosemary, and roasted correctly in the oven, it was the best leg of lamb I have ever cooked and tasted!! (Thank you, Monsieur Sélon!)
I could go on describing the delights of the lovely couple at 'la Pomme Bleu', who sell the most excellent quality of fruit and vegetables, displayed beautifully in pyramids of colour.
Or, the fabulous boulangerie with their baked bread from the wood-burning oven.
The pungent aromas from the freshly-ground coffee at Maison Thivoyon, or the amazing variety of fresh crustations and fish piled high on iced mountains at the two poissoneries.
Other than these, there are flowers to be bought, charcuterie, and, of course, wine (which my husband attends to on a regular basis!)
In fact, some 17 producers or more are collected together in this amazing indoor market.
If you are ever in Le Roannais take a look, and see if you agree with me – I think you just might!!