Ahhhh... imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! The summer markets in France in the various little towns scattered around the country are one of the highlights for a summer tourist. These little weekend markets are crammed full of interesting local food and crafts accompanied by deliciously warm summer weather (mostly... except when there are summer storms!). Most summers I have found myself in France and been able to experience the markets first-hand. However, not everyone has that luxury.
So, enter Le Marie Marche which appears in the centre of Den Haag (The Hauge) on The Plein (near Binnenhof) each year around the end of October. Sure, it is a bit late for summer... but it is a nice way to experience that summer feeling before the darkness of winter settles in. Of course, the weather in Den Haag is a little bit different to the south of France! More wind... and more rain!
Okay, so the markets aren't a direct imitation of the French town markets, but are really more inspired by them. There is a distinctly Dutch twist on it all as well... the second-hand culture really also has a bit of inspiration as well!
We managed to visit this market on a really nice warm day last year (2019). 2020 saw the markets cancelled completely as it was too much of a risk with the coronavirus situation that was fast getting out of hand in The Netherlands.
The markets are a fairly small collection of arts and craft stalls combined with a pretty nice street food selection.
Much of the wares on display were a touch on the overprice side of things, and lacked that certain charm of some of the French markets. However, that said, much of the French stuff tended to be overpriced as well... but in some of the towns, you could find quality artisans that worked in the area and weren't just attracted by the local gathering to hawk cheap wares.
Hosting a "artisinal" market in a largish city doesn't really attract the same sort of stall owners. Plus, they know that they are catering to a generally well-off expat consumer which will tend to have a bit more disposable income than most.
Still, there were some really quite nice hand made items. We did pick up a couple of nice soft toys for our new-born nieces and nephews.
There were a few moments of... hmmm, that is strange!
... and many things that were quite tempting... but would be hard to justify buying!
For the real French markets... one of the highlights would be the food sections. Unfortunately, I'm quite averse to cheese... so, that means that I'm often avoiding those sections of the market like the plague. However, there are often good quality fruits and dried meats on sale.. and wines, jams and honey!
For this Marie Marche, we took advantage of the really decent street food stalls to pick up some gourmet hotdogs and waffles. I have to say that I wasn't expecting much from the hotdogs... but when you make a hotdog with some really top-notch sausages (not the wieners that have been soaking in hot water for the last day...), it really makes a HUGE difference!
Sadly, the waffles... not so impressed!