The Lyon market
system encompasses the département, or county,of Rhône. 350 markets are held every week in the streets of itscapital, Lyon and the outlying suburbs, making Rhône the département withthe largest number of markets in France. 4,000 vendors work in these350 markets, representing 17% of all of the département’s traders.
Most of the markets take place outdoors on the squares and streets. There are also indoor markets, such as Les Halles in Lyon and the Villefranche-sur-Saône market in Beaujolais. Most are held in the morning, from 8am until noon or 1pm. In accordance with French tradition, very few take place during the afternoon.
Lyon itself has a total amount of 26 temporary and permanent marketplaces, including food, flower, book and craft markets. Especially notable are its four organic markets, and the grand covered market Les Halles, which houses 60 different stalls.
Lyon’s markets’ main asset remains the “green belt” surrounding the city. Indeed, thanks to the local climate, all kinds of fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, and meat are produced in the area around Lyon. This “green belt” provides Lyon’s markets with fresh, varied products that follow the rhythm of the seasons. In addition, these products are frequently sold directly to customers at the markets by the farmers themselves. Farmers represent about 35% of Lyon’s market vendors.
The markets are a source of pride and attachment for Lyon’s citizens. In fact, sales are twice as high as the national average. The markets are important gathering and social spaces which light up the city centers. History
Lyon was founded in 43 BC on the hill named “Fourvière.” It remained a trading spot throughout the centuries, thanks to its outstanding location at the meeting of the Saône and Rhône rivers. It was once the economic capital of Gaulle, and the city center was dominated by marketplaces and themed markets.
Since World War II, two institutions have been at the heart of Lyon’s market life:
-The wholesale market, commonly called “MIN”, located at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers. It supplies many of the system’s markets, and is where vendors stock up, and the surrounding area farmers sell their products. MIN will soon be privatized and relocated to the outskirts of Lyon.
-“Les Halles” in Lyon, which was originally located in the heart of the “presqu’île” district in a splendid building built by Tomy Desjardins. It used to be the most important market, where restauranteurs, kitchens, schools, convents and individuals would shop. It didn’t stand the test of time, and was destroyed in 1971, to be rebuilt in the Part Dieu district on a smaller scale and in a more modern style.
Despite the effect of time upon these two institutions, street markets have prevailed and they remain synonymous with “pleasure shopping” in Lyon.
Now it is possible to discover Lyon’s markets with the new book “Guide to the Markets of Lyon: Discover the City in a Different Way”, available in Lyon’s bookshops.
ADPM and its Initiatives
Rhône’s markets are supported by the ADPM, the Association for Market Development and Promotion, part of a pioneer incentive program in France. For many years, markets were in decline due to new consumer habits, supermarket competition, and the lack of evolution and renovation in the markets’ logistic and operational systems. Thus according to the initiative put forth by the Lyon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the various market representatives, consular chambers, trade associations and town governments decided to gather their strength in an assocation and launch ambitious action plans to stimulate market renewal.
It was an innovative step, and a great challenge to gather all of these institutions. The association is financially supported by many partners, who share the goal of strengthening the role of markets in the local economy to give them a new boost.
In the two years since its inception, many projects have already been put into effect.
To promote professional development in the markets, there is “l’Ecole des marchés” or the Market School, a monthly training session which advises first-time vendors. It also implements the ADPM-established training of the market managers.
ADPM is currently working on a book about market best practices. It also manages the site www.geomarches.com
, a comprehensive, interactive database of all the markets of Rhône.
Modernizing and adapting markets to enhance their functioning for the 21st century is another major priority. To that end, ADPM organizes afternoon debates for the public to discuss and build the future of markets. To ensure market popularity, a communication and animation campaign was launched to widen the market’s customer base and reward client loyalty.