Look up things to do in Rennes, France, and on just about every top-10 list you’ll come across, you’ll find the impressively large Rennes market, Marché de Lices. It’s famous for being the second largest farmers market in France (which is really saying something). It’s lively and colorful and full of locals. And, as locals will gleefully remind you, chefs from Paris regularly drive down to stock up their restaurants.
The market sprawls around (and inside) two large, open buildings with most produce offered along the street and square outside and meats and cheeses and baked goods mostly inside. Prepared foods line carts in between the two buildings and an icy fish market is tucked away on one side.
Because Marché de Lices is so enormous, it’s helpful to go into your trip prepared to assess quality and locality. You’ll find plenty of local produce, but also imports. If you’re looking for a hyper-local experience, look for signs reading Bretagne or Brittany (which means the product is from the region of Brittany/Bretagne, where Rennes in located). Generally, these signs will lead you to what’s in season in the region. Local foodies also suggest buying potatoes and carrots still clumped with dirt (read: very fresh).
For herbs, locals say the top stand in the market is Annie Bertin of Les Legumes de Blot. Top chefs from Paris come down to buy her wares. For seafood, there’s Les Viviers la Julmadiere. For chicken, Olivier et Paul Renault. For cheese, Maison Bale. For bread, Le Petit Fournil. And for produce, locals love Earl Robin.
How to get to Marché de Lices
The market is exceedingly popular and easy to find. Ask any local, consult any tourist map, or consult Google.
When to go
Marché de Lices is open from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays. If you’d like to avoid the crowds (10,000 shoppers stop by each week), go early. The earlier I went, the more I felt I had the market a bit to myself.
What to expect
Fresh produce (both organic/bio and standard), jams, cheeses, meats, baked goods, fish and seafood, honey, nuts, herbs, olives, caramel, artisanal macarons, food trucks.
Go expecting to practice your French. Some vendors speak English, but definitely not all.
What (else) to do in Rennes
Grab an eclair and the characteristically local kouign-amann at Maison Coupel. Wander through the pretty cobblestone old town. Take a cooking class with a French family (which includes a guided tour of this very market). And don’t miss nearby Dinan, a worthy day trip destination.