Food, The Market Place of the Future
Head down to the Halles de Bacalan on a Sunday morning and witness hoards of Bordelais, quaffing wine, nibbling on charcuterie and pintxos and soaking up the sunshine, the atmosphere is festive
Bordeaux is seventh heaven for FOO
dies. The Capucins Market, the ‘Belly of Bordeaux’ is open every morning, seven days a week. There are several smaller markets dotted around town and everywhere, independent shops’ shelves’ groan with locally grown, fresh produce.
But if all this choice wasn’t enough, late last year, the Halles de Bacalan, a new thousand-metre squared covered market place opened to a huge fanfare. The city’s mayor, Alain Juppé donned an apron and baked baguettes in the giant ovens of La P’tite Boulangerie. Tastings were staged, and virtually all of Bordeaux turned up for brunch over two sunny Autumn weekends.
Biltoki: A New Player
Spearheading the regeneration of the covered market in Nouvelle Aquitaine is Basque company Biltoki, who have radically overhauled the concept of this traditional institution. Over the past few years they’ve opened five new Halles Gourmandes, and have two more in the pipeline. One of these is the Halles de Talence, in a suburb of Bordeaux, slated to open in October 2018.
Biltoki have also carried out a lot of research into the decline of traditional market-places. They found that part of the problem was poor management of markets by the local town halls, who allowed a lack of balance to creep in. There’d be a glut of fishmongers, and not a grocer’s stall in sight. Markets which have maintained this delicate balance of stalls are still cherished by their local community. But Biltoki’s research shows that nowadays, people only have time to come at weekends. They take their time to browse the stalls, to sip a coffee, to chat with the stall-holders and producers. It’s about lifestyle, not necessity; they don’t spend enough to keep anyone in business. Biltoki say the solution to this conundrum is a mere mouse-click away. At their halles, shoppers will soon be able to order online, then have food delivered.
Modern Market Traders
Biltoki’s selection procedure for wannabe traders is long and drawn out. First, a team of experts runs a series of checks on the provenance of the food, then they conduct taste tests. They privilege iconic local products.
In an effort to ensure their markets reflect the local community, local talent is sent to the head of the queue to run permanent stands. Les Halles de Bacalan, boasts its own chef who’ll cook the meat you just bought, and serve it up on the spot. The chef, Fréderic Coiffé, is a ‘Bacalanais’ who grew up just round the corner.
Les Halles Deluxe
It can’t be denied that the whole experience on offer at the Halles de Bacalan is different from that of a traditional halle. For starters, it’s open in the evenings. Several stands remain open until 10pm at weekends, making it just the spot for an evening aperitif accompanied by seared beef, fresh prawns or an AOP cheese board. Another reason you’ll be much more willing to linger over your lunch or your shopping is that the new halles are properly heated! Creature comforts go a long way…. Access is also blissfully easy - by bike or on foot along the quays. The tram is also direct, just hop on line B to Cité du Vin.