A Swiss Market Worth a Detour

If you love markets as much as I do, then there’s one you definitely shouldn’t miss here in Switzerland.  It’s in Vevey, Montreux’s neighbor, a city on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, and not far from Lausanne.  A massive market with fruits, vegetables and products both local and exotic, takes place on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. It’s usually on the main square by l’Hôtel de Ville, but when we were there earlier this summer, it was all along the water.  Could not imagine a better setting for a market. Well worth the 2.5 hour train from Zürich, which was a beautiful ride in itself.

Market in Vevey, Switzerland

Colorful stands, friendly people behind them, more than happy to tell you where the products are from and take their time to hand pick the very best for you.  Going to markets in Europe, there’s a simple question I am often asked, and it just makes so much sense: for when?  Do you plan on eating that avocado tonight for dinner or not for another 2-3 days?  Do you want your nectarines as hard as a rock, so they’ll be perfect in a few days, or do you want it just ripe and soft to the touch, so you can devour it as soon as you leave the stand?  Makes all the difference.

Market in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, Switzerland

Above you’ll see a market vendor selecting the perfect nectarine for my picnic that afternoon, plus bright red strawberries – the sought after Mara des Bois, as well as zucchini flowers and fresh almonds.  Such a difference for us going to a market in the French region of Switzerland, as opposed to here in the German region.  Different products, displays, a very Provençal feel to it all for sure.  Below you’ll see multi-colored cauliflower and beans, an array of spices reminiscent of a Moroccan souk, handmade pasta, mushrooms and cornichons.

Market in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, Switzerland

It’s not just fruits and vegetables either.  It’s the ultimate one-stop shopping for the perfect picnic.  Cheeses, dried meats, breads and even some sweets too.  I was there with my friend Romy, who bought some flavored syrups, as well as dry, crumbly caramels (which she luckily later shared at our picnic!).  She told me about her Swiss grandmother making them for her now and all throughout her childhood.  You can be sure of one thing… those caramels will be making another appearance on this blog, recipe included!

Market in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, SwitzerlandMarket in Vevey, Switzerland

Romy and her husband Matt have been going to the Vevey market for years, and certainly showed Olivier and me the way!  Unfortunately, the Saturday we went was just before the summer wine tastings began.  Every Saturday from July 11th to September 5th, there is a lively atmosphere from 10am to 1pm at les Marchés Folkloriques.  I was excited by the idea of local artisans, traditional clothing, dances to folk music and especially the musicians with those fabulous Alphorns.  But many people say the real draw is the unlimited tastes of local wines.  You choose your wine glass, a petit verre de cave for CHF 5 or a verre dégustation for CHF 9, and make your way through the market tasting all the regional wines you would like!  Best of all, you get to keep the glass, with different artwork each weekend.  I got to see Romy and Matt’s collection, which is quite impressive!

Market in Vevey, Switzerland

The market is a destination in itself, but I’ll share next several other reasons why you’ll want to plan a trip to Vevey.  I’ll leave you with one preview: Fork on a lake. Voilà !

21 Responses to “A Swiss Market Worth a Detour”

  1. VeggieGirl says:

    I JUST POSTED ABOUT A FARMERS MARKET TOO!! 🙂

  2. Aprille says:

    Oh I love a good market but I really miss a European market. I have the most amazing memories of going to the markets across the border in Germany when I was little. The smells and colors from those Sat mornings are probably one large reason I am a food lover today. My five year old brain especially remembers all the bees floating around the fresh beautifully decorated fruit tarts haha!

    This year I grew my own produce at home and your photo of the squash blossoms caught my eye. My husband talks about this squash blossom soup from his childhood in Mexico and I was dying to try it out this year but it just didn’t happen before all the blossoms were gone. This is a huge motivation to get the garden going again next year though!

    Also, oh the cherry spitting contest possibilities with all those lovely cherries! what are the little green fruits in the photo next to the strawberries? I hate when I don’t know what something is….

  3. El says:

    What a magnificent description. I can almost hear the sounds of the market and taste the incredibly fresh food being served. How I would love to board a plane and be there to see this market and taste the food! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. jkiel says:

    What fun! You must have climbed on a stool or chair for some of the shots, great angles.
    I remember having some of the local wine in the Valais… mmmm…….
    thanks again for making us all jealous of your great adventures! 🙂

  5. kelleyn says:

    I don’t know why we don’t have more markets like this here in the states. I went to our local farmers market and I was very disappointed. Whole Foods offered a much better selection. However, If I wanted to buy conch, pigfeet, or frogs then I would have been a happy camper.

  6. Kerrin says:

    VeggieGirl, smart minds think alike, right?! 😉 Just took a peak at your post – the Union Square Greenmarket, what a fabulous market too!

    Aprille, what amazing food memories you have, that is fantastic. And your husband’s Mexican squash blossom soup must be outrageous. I’ll be expecting to hear about it next time they are in season. My only experience with them is stuffed and fried – not bad either! As for those hairy green things – they are almonds! Yes! Fresh almonds before they are shelled; inside is a milky white almond, as we recognize them. Last but not least, cherry spitting contests – ok, must get back to the market for more cherries, how did I not think of that ?! haha!

    El, thanks so much. So glad you can enjoy the sounds and tastes of the market with me.

    jkiel, love that you like the angles of the photos. Photography demands flexibility – stretching, reaching, crouching, etc. And yes, climbing on things too! Oh, but not writing to make you jealous – writing so you can enjoy it all too, that’s all.

    kelleyn, I miss European markets too when I’m in the States. But Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck as everyone referred to it!) was so fabulous… oh how I miss Whole Foods! 😉 Meanwhile, a local market with conch, pigs’ feet and frogs – wow, that’s quite a selection ! I’ll skip the middle item though!

  7. katy says:

    Looks so wonderful! Did I read that right – are those cherries on the right called Pigeon Heart? They look similar to the Rainer cherries that are available in the States. Are they? What are cocas?

    The Farmer’s Market here in Luxembourg City is colorful and fun to attend too. The selection is much much smaller than the market you’ve described. There also isn’t much of a “Farmer” feel to it. It is not at all local farmers bringing in their bounty to sell. The huge majority of stands sell produce that is available in the grocery store – same packaging and everything. They produce they sell is from all over the world. The prices are not any less at the market either. There is one stand that is always local, though. I wonder if the point of the market is different than the Farmer’s Markets in the States (at least Seattle) where the focus is on local and organic. What do you think?

    At the Lux market my favorite stands to visit are the ones selling flowers. Plants, bouquets, stems and arrangements – so beautiful. We don’t have any stands selling sweets. We have one cheese, one meat, one roasted chicken, a honey stand and a couple plant/herb stands. Markets are such a visual treat! I too love to visit them. Thanks for the great post. I’d love to visit that market myself!

  8. honey living says:

    i also just posted not too long ago about a great market here in nyc near my office. i’d love for you and your readers to take a look – i absolutely adore taking pictures at these markets, it’s all just so beautiful.

    http://honeyliving.blogspot.com/2009/07/local-harvest.html

    also, have you been to the grand central market? not nearly as varied and unique array as what you’re experiencing, but a nice one-stop shopping for high quality ingredients and prepared foods when in nyc. i posted about it here:

    http://honeyliving.blogspot.com/2009/06/to-market-to-market.html

  9. Olympus Tours says:

    What wonders are displayed in this post! The colors of these fruits and presentations are superb. Honestly, we have very beautiful colors in Mexico, but each country has its peculiarities. I would love to try the Swiss delicacies that are displayed here.

  10. Romy says:

    Guess what, Kerrin? We can’t resist. We’re going back later this month for the wine/dancing/crafts. But especially for the wine. 🙂

  11. Aprille says:

    Almonds! Thanks. I definitely didn’t get that one but I don’t feel bad now.

  12. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Kerrin, these markets are just so delightful. I have never seen anything like it here in Brisbane. The stalls, the food, the people all look so colourful! And the setting is magnificent, too. Just wandering around would be a joy. I love the fact that they are so passionate about their produce. I have never been asked ‘for when?’. Makes total sense. And they would know the right thing to give you. I so would travel 2 1/2 hours for this myself, too!

  13. Kerrin says:

    Katy, yes indeed, the cherries above are labeled “Coeur de Pigeon,” meaning pigeon heart. I love when fruits have fun names, as is the case with heirloom tomatoes especially. I didn’t taste them, so I can’t say for sure if they are Rainers exactly, but by the color, they certainly look similar. Cocas are those fluffly flatbread above, a sweet brioche with sugar, smashed almonds and pine nuts on top. Mmmm! That’s one of the stands I wish were here at the Zurich markets!

    Your market in Luxembourg sounds fabulous as well – still a great variety. And yes absolutely, a visual feast. That’s why I love them so much ! But in response to your comment, the markets here in Zurich do also have a lot of the same products you find in the supermarkets (Coop & Migros) – some items for more money, some less. But there are always stands with organic items and telling you exactly where they are from, the farm, the farmers’ names, etc.

    honey living, thanks for sharing those links – i’m going to check them out for sure. And of course I know Grand Central – a food lover’s delight for sure. I remember walking through many a time – sometimes not to buy anything, but just to look at the impressive variety of foods in one spot, and all so beautifully presented.

    Olympus Tours, glad you enjoyed. I wouldn’t mind checking out the markets in Mexico one day myself!

    Romy, how fun !! I am so jealous. Can’t wait to see your new glasses then. And the collection continues to grow … ! 🙂

    Aprille, not many people are familiar with fresh almonds in fact. Worth a try for sure.

    Julia, just wandering around the market IS a joy! And whenever I buy fruit now, I always say – an avocado for tomorrow’s lunch, kiwis for this weekend, melon for tomorrow night, or that juicy nectarine for RIGHT NOW ! ha ha! That’s how they pick the best fruit for what you want. It’s different when you aren’t allowed to touch the fruits and vegetables yourself, that’s what I learned in Paris. Ne touchez pas !! 😉

  14. Lani says:

    I do so love this post. Yes, it takes me back to the markets in Aix. I loved walking around tasting, smelling and trying to figure out what each thing was. It was such fun. So fresh. Here in NY my favorite market is The Greenmarket at Union Square. Love walking thru there and seeing all the veggies, flowers and fruits pop out at you….just like your photographs in this post. I would love to go to Vevey! The fruits look so amazing thru your camera lens that you actually can taste the freshness of the cherries. Thank you for sharing another one of your adventures.

  15. Scribetrotter says:

    And to think I didn’t even know about this one… often one ignores what is closest.

    Next time you’re in Geneva, you should aim for a Saturday and – heresy – cross the border into the French town of Ferney-Voltaire. It’s a ‘different’ kind of market… because of the proximity in Geneva of the UN, it caters to dozens of nationalities so you’ll find Asian, African and Middle Eastern goods, for an international flavour right on the steps of Switzerland.

    That said, even though I only go to Zurich about once a year and for a few hours at that, I’m always taken by the indoor market at the train station – everything looks so scrumptious and pastoral, almost straight from an Alp!

  16. jen laceda says:

    I love all the produce! Everything’s fresh! And the cherries! I love cherries. I want to eat them all!!!

  17. Andrea says:

    Sounds like my kind of a Saturday in Switzerland….and its fascinating to see the differences within one tiny country between the German and French influences…nice that you pointed that out. I can really smell it through your photos (as usual). Miss it!!!

  18. Kerrin says:

    Lani, you mentioned two fantastic markets that I love too ! Aix-en-Provence and NYC’s Greenmarket at Union Square. I haven’t been to the former in a while, but can still picture all the tables overflowing with fruits and vegetables – the most colorful of all! I wonder if all that construction at Union Square is still going on…?

    Scribetrotter, Ferney-Voltaire is on my list now, thanks so much! Wow, sounds like a fabulous market – and you wouldn’t know you were so close to Switzerland, nor in France for that matter ! We must plan a date to meet there one day ! 😉 As for Zurich’s market at the train station (on Wednesdays), it’s fantastic !! Just massive and I love to visit from time to time. I wrote about it here last summer in fact:
    https://mykugelhopf.ch/2008/08/lets-make-a-deal/

    Jen, imagine how you would react in front of all those stands – you’d really want to eat everything in sight ! 😉

    Andrea, you said it – for such a small country, each region is so unique (French and German influences of course and Italian too) — in language, culture, the people, and of course local products and specialties, popular dishes and preparations… so fun to explore them all !

  19. Jess "Klutzy Chef" says:

    I’m finally making my way to the market this weekend. We’re going to the Montreux jazz festival on Friday and will stay over to take in a few vineyeard walks before coming back on Saturday.

    I’m hoping les Marchés Folkloriques is happening again this year, but something tells me we’ll enjoy ourselves regardless.

  20. kc goes to vevey « the klutzy chef says:

    […] I mentioned, this weekend was all about food, music, food, sun, food and wine.  After reading MyKugelhopf‘s post about a market that made me want to drop everything I was doing, Vevey became a […]

  21. kc goes to vevey says:

    […] I mentioned, this weekend was all about food, music, food, sun, food and wine.  After reading MyKugelhopf‘s post about a market that made me want to drop everything I was doing, Vevey became a […]

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