Were we in Morocco? Italy? Tom and I looked at each other, in surprise and delight. No, we were definitely in France, although some of the items on offer here might just as easily been found in Fez or Naples. Just forty minutes from Basel, the Alsatian city of Mulhouse holds the largest market in Eastern France. It is a market with a decidedly international character.
A local market with international flair
The bustling and ethnically diverse Marché du Canal Couvert is an excellent place to find items imported from around the world. It also offers a variety of traditional local specialties, fresh and ready-to-eat.
Indoors, in a permanent market hall with cement floors and a high ceiling, the feel is that of a supermarket. The aisles are wide, too, lined with individual shops. Tom and I were happy to discover shops offering edibles from Portugal, Italy, and North Africa.
Outside the main hall, local Alsatian produce abounds (in early June, “local” means strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus), set out alongside stone fruit, melons and beans shipped from North Africa. Many of the items on offer here are much the same as a few kilometers away in Southern Germany, or on Marktplatz in Basel, Switzerland, but with an altogether different vibe.
The food market is adjacent to the permanent indoor one; clothing, toys and small electronics occupy a second lot across the street. A somewhat sterile coffee shop overlooks the indoor market.
Saturday morning bustle
On a busy Saturday morning, the food stalls are continually replenished, and to enter the market, visitors wend their way between white refrigerator trucks parked along the street outside the covered market hall.
If you go
We recommend the Mulhouse market for:
- Couscous and pastas in bulk
- Top-notch Moroccan mint (the men in Mulhouse, sitting on stools behind a mountain of mint sip tea with their buttered bread, just like in Fez)
- High-quality seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries and white asparagus