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 J'Adore - - Contents - CLARE O’HA­GAN

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.

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