Marché Aux Halles (the Central Market), in La Rochelle, France in Vieux Port (the old port and historic center of town) is a covered market that is open every day in the morning. The market has both outside vendors (mostly fruits and vegetables) and indoor vendors (cheese, charcuteries (stores where pork products, such as hams, sausages, and pâtés are sold), pâtisseries (bakeries), butchers, fishmongers, prepared foods, etc.). The covered market building was first opened for business in April 1835.
While the prepared foods were enticing and looked delicious, we decided that we would take advantage of the market and shop for our dinner buying local, fresh ingredients that we would prepare in our kitchen.
We were fortunate to visit the market early in the morning with the ship’s Executive Chef who was shopping for fresh berries, fruit and local fish for the ship’s restaurants.
The Chef was very helpful talking to the fishmonger with us, as he is fluent in French and knew the local fish selection. (He bought 40+ pounds of fresh fish for the ship, along with selections of shellfish; we bought two small fish for our dinner in our apartment, plus lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and some rabbit rillettes for an hors d’oeuvre.)
We looked forward to preparing the fishes for dinner after a day exploring the town of La Rochelle (the Chef graciously offered to add or purchases to his and get them back on board the ship while we stayed shore side). Our choice was the classic French preparation of sole à la meunière — the fish is dredged in flour and then pan fried in butter and served with the resulting brown butter sauce and lemon slices. We agreed that rarely had we eaten fish in a restaurant that was as fresh.