Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there is a grocers’ market at the plaza just next to Place Pury, the centre of Neuchatel.
Unlike Malaysian markets which can get pretty big and messy, the centre only houses about 10 to 15 odd farmers with a variety of vegetables, fruits as well as artisan produce like cheese and bread. Meat is not sold at this market as cleanliness and hygiene is a big thing in Switzerland – you can find those at the local boucherie/charcuterie (butchery/delicatessen) nearby.
Nearly 100% of the produce sold at the market is grown locally and sold by the farmers themselves. You will find at least four to five different varieties of fresh lettuce, onions, potatoes, radish, carrots, aubergine (eggplant), capsicums, garlic, cucumbers and courgettes among other things. The fruits in season at the moment are strawberries and cherries but you can still find oranges, apples, and pears for sale.
In case you think this is all just about vegetable, it isn’t. On Saturdays, artisan produce come on sale – these include nuts, spices, bread, wild mushrooms and of course, cheese. Most of the cheese in nearby retail stores are commercially produced. The ones available are the market are made by small farm owners and/or imported in from neighbouring France (goat cheese is something you won’t be able to find in Switzerland).
And flowers…there will always be flowers on sale. There is a dedicated florist selling seasonal flowers and herbs but almost every farmer will have a little bit of blooms on for sale. These range from roses to lilas (I am not too sure what the English name is) as well as fresh herbs like chives, rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme.
The farmers are pretty friendly but do note that some French will be handy when asking for prices and quantities. It was my first time alone at the market today and I am definitely proud to say that I made it out just fine! Oh, and of course with three types of lettuce, eggplant, capsicums, courgettes and strawberries for the week. I might go again on Saturday with my father-in-law and Nil…I’d love to check out the flower stall!