If you’ve been anywhere near a restaurant recently you’ll have noticed a few things. White tablecloths are out, communal tables are in and experiential dining is, well, piping hot.
It’s what the influential millennial consumer wants: choice, chilled-out surroundings, frequently updated seasonal menus and authenticity by the flea market-sourced rustic bucket-load. In Paris that has translated to the growing popularity of food court-style dining. And from Batali’s Eataly in the Marais to Big Mamma’s La Felicità at Station F, large restauranteurs have found success in mimicking the vibe of food halls like the long-established Marché des Enfants Rouges.
But it’s not just hip restaurant chains that have been creating halles gourmandes, as elsewhere they’ve been popping up to bring relaxed dining to the culinary landscapes of other neighborhoods, towns and cities. For the hungry and time-starved they prove a great way to experience a city’s food scene in one bite. Here are seven to discover in France.
Open every Thursday through Sunday until October 15, Le Marché Pop Food Court has taken over a corner of the 12th arrondissement to offer a unique pop-up experience featuring four bars and nine different food vendors dishing up everything from pizza to Irish-inflected BBQ, natural wine and seafood to fresh produce. Coordinated by Nino La Spina, Executive Chef of the Grand Coeur restaurant, Le Marché Pop sets itself apart by offering culinary masterclasses, dance performances and concerts, as well as plenty of space to play foosball, badminton and pétanque. — 77 Avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter, Paris, 75012
Giving the international street food scene an injection of French charm are these twin food events hosted one Thursday a month in Paris’s Belleville neighborhood and every Saturday in Lyon’s Place Saint Louis. Serving up food from, among others, Vietnam, Korea and Mexico, over 20 vendors converge to offer meals priced under 10 euros. Instead of food trucks you’ll enjoy market-style stalls, plenty of open seating and homemade dishes using fresh local ingredients. For Paris dates visit the website. — in Paris, Boulevard de Belleville between the Couronnes and Ménilmontant stations; in Lyon, Place Saint-Louis, Lyon, 69007
Situated just five minutes from Bordeaux’s Saint-Jean train station in a former slaughterhouse, La Boca opened at the end of 2018 to feature 13 local independent restaurants, a cocktail bar, wine merchant and a huge wall of beer taps. Aside from gastronomic delights, one of this food hall’s major features is its seamless cash-free payment model, meaning that you can easily eat from multiple vendors, paying with a pre-charged card or using a special app. La Boca is open 10 a.m. to midnight during weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. — 85 Quai de Paludate, Bordeaux, 33800
After 20 years standing empty, La Gare Sud, Nice’s former train station, has been given a second lease of life as a newly opened food hall. Today, the Gustave Eiffel-designed structure has become a magnet for the rejuvenated Libération neighborhood which in recent years has seen the arrival of new movie theater, hotel, library and new tramway links to the rest of the city. Go for everything from olive bars to Mexican food, ramen to gelato, local Niçoise cuisine and delicious choices from 28 food vendors in all. Better yet, vintage lovers will rejoice as upstairs on a newly created mezzanine level you’ll also find a host of vintage stores including an outpost of the national Emmaus thrift stores. — 35 Avenue Malaussena, Nice, 06000
Created in 2006, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse has garnered a reputation as a veritable food lover’s destination and arguably one of the originators of the food court trend. Named after the legendary Michelin starred chef, the food hall sits on the site of Lyon’s 1859-built covered market. Unsurprisingly here in the gastronomic capital of France, quality and creativity lead the way, so among the 50 food vendors, restaurants and bars, look for Lyonnaise specialties including charcuterie and quenelles. — 102 Cours Lafayette, Lyon, 69003
Taking its name from the iconic La Major Cathedral in stands beneath, Les Halles de la Major recently entered the Marseille food scene to offer gourmet food, deli delights, farmers market picks and restaurant fare. The major difference here — pun intended — is the location’s particular focus on Mediterranean products and local seafood. Don’t miss its special summer apéro offerings including cocktails and tapas available every day from 6 p.m. until midnight through September 1. — 12 Quai de la Tourette, Marseille, 13002
Hot on the heels of several successful pop-up restaurant events held this past May and June, for long-term planners Toulouse’s Halle Gourmande is one to watch. Currently under construction as part of the regeneration of the town’s former munitions factory warehouse district, Les Halles de la Cartoucherie is set to open in 2020 and will showcase 28 different vendors, a bistro, café and bar. Due to be set among mixed-use spaces for art, culture and dining, the culinary project has its sights set on promoting sustainability, inclusivity and innovation. Consider it plenty of time to muster your appetite and plan a visit to France’s ville rose. — Rue de Munitionnettes, Toulouse, 31300.