Summer evenings in the Dordogne are long and mild. Match this with the unfailingly beautiful villages and countryside plus the fantastic local produce and you have the perfect recipe for a successful Marche nocturne, or night market.
Night markets offer you the chance to sit down with the locals (and a few tourists) at communal tables and while away an hour or two enjoying great food as you soak up the atmosphere. There is always plenty of great and affordable food on offer – including fois gras and other duck-related specialties, sausages, mussels, delicious cheeses, paella and even burgers made with the best local produce. And of course, the crepes are a must for dessert! There are even stalls that sell local wines at very reasonable prices.
We had no problems at all finding food for both parents and kids (though we did have one night where the kids’ main course consisted of a strawberry, nutella and cream filled crepe, which was quite exceptional!).
You can turn up with nothing and get paper plates and plastic cutlery and glasses as you buy the food and drinks, however the experienced marche attendees could be identified by their picnic baskets with their own plates and cutlery (and maybe even their own wine). It’s very informal, so your level of preparedness is entirely up to you!
There are multiple marche nocturne options around the Dordogne. We stayed close to the beautiful town of Issigeac, which offered a standard marche nocturne on a Friday night and a very good “bio” marche on Thursday nights which offered wonderful local organic produce – the goats cheese wrapped in bacon and done on a hotplate was a family favourite.
Outside of Issigeac, we enjoyed Monbazillac’s marche nocturne which is held on a Sunday and is set under a canopy of trees overlooking the wonderful Chateaux de Monbazillac (where they produce some of the best desert wines in the region). And after a great day exploring the Chateau de Commarque we had a fantastic evening at the Limeuil marche nocturne, set on the intersection of the Dordogne and Vezere rivers.