Sens market brings the town center to life
A covered market typical of the late 19th century
On the cathedral square – sorry, the Place de la République as it is called today – the covered market catches your eye and attracts your attention, particularly because of its metal architecture, which is typical of the late 19th century, and its unusual triangular shape. It was built by the entrepreneur Armand Moisant. We owe him several well-known Parisian buildings, such as Le Bon Marché department store and the Grand Palais. In the Middle Ages, in place of the covered market you would have found a hôtel-Dieu (a hospital for the poor and needy). Today, market gardeners, butchers, fishmongers, cheesemakers and many other food artisans bring it to life with their fresh produce.
An ordinary sight every week of the year!
Mondays are a big market day in Sens and a real attraction. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, there are fewer market traders, but it is still perfect for soaking up the atmosphere. You can sneak onto the upper gallery, to capture the moment. The stained-glass windows fitted above each of the many entrances, during the last renovation in 2015 are particularly photogenic; drawing their inspiration from encyclopaedic illustrations in 19th-century dictionaries, they depict fruit and vegetables. Eventually, on Fridays, if you get up early enough, you might bump into Patrick Gauthier, our local Michelin-starred chef of La Madeleine restaurant !
A source of inspiration for La Madeleine, a star in the Sénonais
Patrick Gauthier, the only Michelin-starred chef in northern Yonne, is familiar with Sens market. He finds there his inspiration to devise his menus and share the taste of local products. In 2017 the restaurant moved to the end of Yonne Island in a more modern setting in perfect keeping with its fine, seasonal cuisine. From the terrace, there is a wonderful view of the river. With menus starting under €50, indulge yourself, don’t hesitate to try it out !
La Madeleine is spearheading local gastronomy, but you may be enticed by other types of Sénonais restaurant : semi-gastronomic, cuisines from around the world and small brasseries where you can find fresh produce at reasonable prices
Villeneuve-sur-Yonne market in pictures
Villeneuve-sur-Yonne’s covered market is very similar to that of Sens. There’s nothing strange about that! It also dates from the late 19th century. The architect? Another well-known figure, Paul Sédille, architect of the “Le Printemps” department store in Paris. This is another fantastic market, with its rich colours and flavours, and bursts into life on Tuesdays and especially Friday mornings.
Local Sénonais specialities
Your shopping list 100% sénonais
While the Sénonais does not have a dish that is typical of the region, you will still find something to delight the palate ! Here are some appetizers you can find on the markets, delicatessen shops and food shops :
- Fresh produces : from baguettes and organic bread to superior quality poultry or watercress to aged cheeses. Some have a strong character, such as Saint-Florentin or Soumaintrain, local cheeses that are well-known to the people of the Sénonais… then there is the less typical, but nevertheless local Chaource cheese its appellation area stretching as far as Sens.
- Seasonal produce : at the beginning of summer, not to be missed are the locally grown strawberries and delicious Yonne cherries, while in autumn, apples from Othe Forest and squash of every colour provide us with all kinds of ideas.
- Specialities made with love and skill : Burgundy specialities are to be found here, such as gougères (small cheese puffs), jambon persillé (parsley ham terrine), ready-to-eat snails prepared by the snail farmer in Armeau, a town not far from Villeneuve-sur-Yonne…
You have a sweet palate ? Between the Sénonette, a sweet from the delicatessen Rose et Léon, the Pavé Sénon from Boulangerie Jugé (an almond biscuit filled with prune jam), the Sénon cake available at several boulangeries in Sens (a small almond tart filled with blackcurrants and covered in royal icing) and Brennus chocolate from Pâtisserie Gauffillier in Sens (layered praline coated in dark chocolate, with the image of Brennus, our famous Gallic chieftain, on top), there is plenty to take your fancy! You may also try our gingerbread and honey from the Yonne.
Would you like a glass of…
Do not look for wine. Here, the local speciality is beer! Taste our craft beer, marketed under the brand name Thomas Becket (former Archbishop of Canterbury, who was exiled in Sens around 1164) – tell us what you think!
Sens was once a wine-making town. In 1806, there were 258 professional winegrowers in Sens! The phylloxera pest was to hit the area, destroying all the vines. Today however, the desire to revive one of our region’s traditional activities is symbolised by the Domaine des Sénons, a brand new wine estate, the Clos de Crève-Coeur association which maintains a vineyard in Beaudemont (above Villeneuve) and the conservatory vineyard plot at the Champs Captants park in Sens. The local guilds celebrate Saint Vincent’s Day in Sens, Villeneuve and Saint-Clément every January.