Where can you buy your eggs, dried kiwi, brie round, tacky t-shirt, and a live peacock all in one convenient location?
So, when my mother came to visit, I took her there and left the kids at home. Good move. The Sunday Market in Liege is entirely too crowded to enjoy with children.
You’ll find the market stretched along the Meuse river between the Pont des Arches and the Pont Maghin.
Liege is the third largest city in Belgium and is predominantly French in language use and attitude. Parking was remarkably easy and though the streets by the river were lined with cars on either side, we were able to find a spot in a little free lot right near the bridge. The city was a mix of old and new like so many here, but the bridge was the most impressive with huge statues on all sides – four of them total and all different.
The market spans quite a ways so bring your walking shoes. You can buy anything that you want at this market from the high class to the low class. We bought dried kiwi and strawberries from a vendor selling delicious dried fruits and nuts. The produce itself was so perfectly displayed that it looked like it had jumped out of a cooking magazine, shiny and full of color. We got olives and pickled garlic from a vendor that had over 20 different large bowls of olives with different spice combinations. They were so delicious, I’d almost go back just for those. The brie was amazing and there was just about any cheese you could want. We got a nice hunk of brie for only 1E! Fish markets, meat vendors… there was just so much. We passed several places specializing in Italian imports. Dried fish hung from the top of the tent and piles of a dried flat fish sat in front. They were all salted for soup stocks. Pasta the size of taper candles, bakery carts selling pastries, quiches, breads, candy booths selling every flavor of gummi candy available… and more…. it was so amazing.
And that was just the food. We also saw lots of clothing: underwear in not so small sizes, long skirts, little tiny t-shirts with the playboy logo, and cute little denim skirts for kids… There were men displaying painting gizmos that you’d see on an infomercial, mickey mouse clocks, cheap dollar store toys and merchandise, and bathroom fixtures. My mom found some nice fabric there and we saw a lot of linens too. A nice couple were selling pasta pots and we got one of those too. A coffee stand held large burlap sacks of coffee from around the world. It looked wonderful. I bought 5 sacks to have on hand for the next sack race we have here… and they are good for slides at the park too. Flowers and plants and trees… all sorts of garden supplies were there for the taking and people were walking away carried large shrubs in their arms.
And then… peacocks. From the bridge walking toward the market, I caught a glimpse of some cages with birds. As we walked there, we passed several people with boxes full of different birds… baby ducklings, a chicken. Then, walking through the market, mom got my attention. Walking by us was a man carrying a large box with a neat little twine handle on top. In the back was a hole cut out and sticking through that hole was the very large tail of a peacock. I couldn’t believe it! There must have only been one peacock there that day because none of the bird vendors had peacocks by the time I got to them, but they had adult ducks and baby ducks, all sorts of chickens with their eggs on display, so you know what kind they lay, parakeets and doves, and all shape and size of rabbit from the tiniest ones to the European giants. Mice, guinea pigs, chinchilla – they were all on sale at the market. The vendors were nice. They all spoke French, Dutch, and English at least, but I heard German, Italian, and Spanish spoken by some vendors as well.
There was only one antique seller there. Her stuff was not impressive except for one nice bronze statue, but it was overpriced, so the temptation was not there. Still, it was a very nice market and fun to be there even with the crowds.
We left the market twice – once to get coffee and another time to have lunch. The eateries we encountered were not great. It was actually very difficult to find real food. I’m sure it exists, but both places we went to served coffee, alcohol, and little food like a horribly limited assortment of sandwiches. For lunch we had a caprese salad and a cheese plate – not huge nor gourmet, but tasty nonetheless. The waitress at the second location would only speak French and gave us extremely poor service while being very chatty with everyone else there. (To date, my ONLY bad experience with a French speaker, and she wasn’t even French.)
If you have a bit of time to wander away from the market towards the hill, you’ll find some very interesting small shops and a large square with some impressive buildings and a row of restaurants.
I wouldn’t go to see Liege. The city itself is quite dirty and the locals seemed a bit rude. But, the Sunday market is interesting and worth going to shop and people watch at least once. I’ll go again to pick up a few things and soak up the eclecticism.