How to get healthy by eating local | 9flats blog – inside the world of social travel

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How to get healthy by eating local

In the whirl of our busy lives, it’s not always easy to look properly at what we’re eating. A quick burger grabbed from a stall at lunch, followed by microwaved pizza for dinner, maybe with a chocolate bar in between… sound familiar? On holiday it’s often the same story, except work, kids and commute are replaced with rushing from one sight to the next.

To show more love to your stomach while you’re away, look towards the delights of the area you’re staying in. Nearly all 9flats places have a fully equipped kitchen where you can cook a healthy meal (to be certain, use the ‘Kitchen’ search filter at the top of the page). And where better to find fresh and tasty ingredients than at the local farmer’s market?

In honour of World Health Day, we thought we’d help you find the best local produce for your 9flats kitchens. Here are our top market tips in Paris, Valencia, Barcelona, London and Rome…

Paris: Marché Barbès

When? Wednesdays and Saturdays: 7.30am-3pm
Where? 18th District, metro 2 or 4 (station Barbès-Rochechouart)

“Yeah it’s nice, but loads of tourists have already been here…” Know that thought? Whether it’s the ‘main attraction’, the Eiffel Tower, or St Germain, it can often feel in Paris like everyone’s already been there. Which begs the question: “Where hasn’t everyone already been? Well, Marché Barbès could be the place. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, between 7.30am and 3pm, people of all ages and nations bustle around this market. They’re loud, it’s busy… it’s a ‘market must’. While you’re buying dates from the smiling woman in a headscarf, or apples from the grim-looking fruit seller, it’s likely you’ll feel that, here, you’re at the cutting edge. Finally, you’ve arrived in the real Paris. Here, you can soak up experiences to recount proudly when you get home, that no one else has told before.

Valencia: Valencia Central Market

When? Monday to Saturday: 7.30am-2.30pm
Where? 700 meters from the Estación del Nord

Only five minutes from the Estación del Nord station, lies this architecturally impressive market hall. It’s not only a place of regional delicacies (from fruit to Pata Negra ham) the steel structure is a must for lovers of unusual architecture. The glass windows and beautiful domes are just some of the architectural elements you should take in, if you can take your eyes of the food that is. And by the way: on the building opposite the main entrance, take a look at the gargoyles, they may be worth a photo or two.

Barcelona: La Boqueria

When? Monday to Saturday, from 8am-8.30pm
Where? Metro L3 (station: Liceu), bus 14, 59 and 91

The attraction of La Boqueria is already clear when you look at the array of national and international awards it’s won. Among others, it received the Best Market in the World Award in 2005. People have traded here since the 12th Century. Originally called Mercat de la Palla, La Boqueria is now known for excellent Catalan produce. Almost 100 years earlier, in 1914, the market area was given a roof, which ushered in the modernisation process and contributes to today’s appearance. The market is not so big compared to others but is known for its huge diversity: crunchy yellow peppers, juicy red tomatoes, sweet figs, fresh Butifarra (a Catalan sausage) and handmade chocolates.

London: Borough Market

When? Thursdays: 11am-5am, Fridays: 12am-6pm, Saturdays: 8am-5pm
Where? Underground: London Bridge

Borough market, photo by Magnus D

What’s probably the oldest fruit and vegetable market in London has an interesting history. The first local produce were sold here as far back as the 11th century. A nice anecdote: in 1755 the market was banned by the British Parliament. A resourceful group then bought a tract of land, known as the Triangle, and used it to open up the market again. The Triangle is now located in the heart of the market. Today, alongside fruit and vegetables, you’ll find meat and cheese stalls with a variety of international delicacies. Many of them will also offer you a free sample. My tip: spicy Indian curry, cooked right in front of you. Then, for a more local London experience, head to the hipster friendly Broadway Market on Saturdays for the best mushroom sandwich you’ll ever taste.


Rome: Piazza Testaccio

When? Monday to Saturday: 6am-1.30pm

As in every Italian city, the markets in Rome are a great experience. When you ask a tourist guide what market you have to see, the answer is usually the same: Campo de’ Fiori. But what else is there to see? My answer is: Piazza Testaccio. There’s something that sets it apart from the usual touristy markets. This popular and busy market is a firm favourite shopping destination of residents from the surrounding areas. Fruit, vegetables, fish and meat of excellent quality (mothers, grandmothers and restaurant owners can’t be wrong) are offered here. You’ll also find shoes, leather goods and clothes – for decent prices. In short, a very authentic experience.

There are so many more amazing local markets to be found all over the world. When you’ve booked your 9flat, do a little research in the area and you might find there’s a gem just around the corner from you. Or just ask your host where to find the best one.

What about you? What great local markets have you found on your travels? We’d love to hear about them…

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Written by , April 7, 2012