Marché Place Sébastopol

Queue etiquette: waiting in line

If you thought the French were terrible at queuing, think again. Not only do they have standing in line down to a fine art, but they show great patience at it, especially at a street market.

Place Sébastopol, at the top of our road, has a market every Saturday morning. It’s all meat, shellfish, cheeses, fruit and veg – and there is even one women who has a whole stall devoted to watercress. (She’s there very week, so clearly someone’s buying it.)

Rather unusually, you won’t find a tabard for love nor money, mind.

We decided to give the market a try for the food for our very first dinner party here in Lille. The vegetables were amazingly cheap – anything up to half the price of what you’d pay in the supermarket. A great slice of pumpkin, for example, came in at 80 cents, rather than the €2 we had seen in Carrefour.

We shopped around, choosing this from one stall and that from another.

But when it came to choosing our meat, there was clearly only one stall to go for: the one with the longest queue. (We’ve employed the same approach with our boulangerie – more about that another time.)

Damon gamely opted to stand in line… The butchers were cutting and preparing everything to order, so he waited a good 20 minutes to be served.

What he got was worth the wait, though. He was after pork loin, and what he came away with looked – and tasted – so much better than what we had seen elsewhere.

“When it came to choosing our meat, there was clearly only one stall to go for: the one with the biggest queue”

In case you’re interested, this was the menu, all fait maison:

  • Amuse-bouche number 1: chanterelle served on a cube of truffled pumpkin
  • Entrée: twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé
  • Amuse-bouche number 2: hot Bloody Mary soup
  • Plat: pork loin stuffed with a pistachio pesto, served with rosemary parmentier potatoes and fennel
  • Fromages: five French cheeses
  • Dessert: apple tart served with lavender ice cream

The dinner party went well – we’ll definitely buy our food from that market again.

And the next time someone tells me the French are terrible at queuing, I’ll take them to the market with me.

This entry was published on Saturday, 28 October 2017 at 08:06. It’s filed under Food and wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

13 thoughts on “Queue etiquette: waiting in line

  1. I love markets! Great post. So glad to hear you have a good one near you. We have two great ones nearby, but both 15 minutes aweay. Our local market is fairly basic, with veg bought in as opposed to grown locally. Except for the potato man. He has the best Elodie potatoes. The most amazing potatoes we have ever eaten. Speaking of, I need a few kilos…

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  2. Pingback: What's all the fuss about a French Market? ~ Pumpjack & Piddlewick

  3. A magnificent menu!!!

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  4. I love the superb menu and your blog

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  5. Funnily enough, I did a post about just that! i.e. the French not being brilliant at queuing – in my experience. Perhaps it’s different at market stalls. My observations were based mainly on bank and post office queues. It’s not that they are impatient, rather that they queue in a different way from we Brits. Vive la différence!

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  6. P.S. The menu has my mouth watering. I made lavender ice cream once, but put too much lavender in – it’s very strong. Bon appetit…

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  7. Makes yer proud… to be British…. having learnt …to queue with aplomb…ha ha … sounds like yergob was not only amused… but ecstatic… nom nom…nom….

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  8. Oh heavens, you have my mouth watering at that menu … fabulous! I think the French demonstrate their patience in all shops …. stand in the queue at any shop and there is no remonstrating with the time taken to chat, comment on whatever and even get into the important ins and outs of local politics. One just waits one’s turn. As for shopping … I’m very spoiled in Grenoble with several excellent markets including farmers markets in more than one location. And no one bats an eyelid at my having Tiny Dog in tow … even though it is technically against the law for her to be there.

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  9. Love the way you put forward your thoughts !! Sometimes or rather often it’s very necessary to break down the wrong perception! Great explanation in terms of etiquette

    Liked by 1 person

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