There is no getting away from the fact that Lorient is not the prettiest of French towns. Approximately the size of Limerick, it’s the largest city in the department of Morbihan, with a slightly bigger population than the capital Vannes. The architecture dates mostly from the 1950s as a result of a particularly savage flattening it suffered at the hands of the Anglo-American invasion force of WWII. The enormous submarine bases that the Nazis built proved impossible to destroy by bombs so the option was to destroy everything else around them instead.
That said, the people are hospitable and friendly as you’d expect Bretons to be (don’t forget that this is the site of the famous annual Celtic Music Festival) and the town boasts a number of regular markets that are worth checking out.
The main one is on the Cours de Chazelle. Located near the railway station, it’s an easy one to locate. The outdoor version (with 100 places) is on twice a week on a leafy tree-lined avenue while the indoor market in the Halles is only slightly smaller and takes place every day. The coastal location of Lorient is splendid and ensures a fresh supply of the entire gamut of shellfish, artichokes, local alcohol and meat specialities and more ready-made crepes than you’d find in a month of summer concerts in Ireland.
Every Saturday, there’s another large market over at the Saint Louis on Place Alsace-Lorraine, where the broad square gives you the charming impression of what the rest of Lorient must have looked like before the war-inflicted damage (despite the presence of an apocalyptic-looking church). This 100-place market is a great place to browse for all the other stuff – locally-manufactured goods and crafts, as well as foodstuffs and every manner of artisan products.
There are two more lesser markets – the Keryado on Place de la Liberté. It has 49 places and a similar mix to that of Saint Louis, while the tiny Faouëdic market with just ten places runs all day Wednesday and Saturday on Avenue du Faouëdic.
The Marché de Merville on Cours de Chazelle in Lorient is open every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 07:30 until 13:00, while the indoor version (Halles de Merville) is open daily from 07:00 to 12:45. Saint-Louis is the big weekly Saturday market that runs from 08:00 to 12:30, while the lesser markets of Keryado and Faouëdic are open Fridays 08:00 to 12:30 and Wed+Sat 08:30 to 18:00 respectively.
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