Market Day in Saint-Laurent du Maroni

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, lazy little Saint-Laurent buzzes with early morning activity … le marché … it's Market Day. As the steam rises off the river, a couple of streets inland, vendors are setting up their colorful little tents and kiosks and unpacking their fruits and vegs. setting up for market day in saint laurent du maroni

Big orange barricades are moved into place to cordon off several blocks of Avenue Felix Eboue and if you want the best of the best, you need to get there by 0730.

street closed on market day

There's a fresh fish truck, la poissonnerie, with the morning's catch all iced up and on display. The butcher has his own truck as well and folks line up to buy their beef, goat or maybe pig trotters. One woman sells rotisserie chickens at €11 each which appears to be a fair price since people line up to buy them. One vendor sells snow cones made the old-fashioned way by scraping a big block of ice into a plastic cup and coating it with any number of sweet, sugary, neon-colored syrups.

meat wagon

We wander up and down the aisles playing our two favorite market games: Name that veg and What's that fruit? We like to try new and different produce, but we have to have some idea of what to do with them. The dragon fruit we bought and tried was excellent. We just cut it in half and scooped out the bright red, kiwi-tasting pulp with a spoon.

dragon fruit

When you can identify the fruit or veg in English, it's a little easier. Courgettes are what Americans call zucchini and aubergine is eggplant. Tomate and salade are no brainers...tomato and lettuce. But what about ...concombres piquant … prickly cucumbers? We were told they're not good to eat what do you do with them? Something we need to find out more about.

prickly cucumbers

Okra aka caloux is big here. In the best of situations, slimy okra is not on our our favorites list.


There are lots of interesting looking peppers and herbs and greens to choose from. There are regular green and red capsicum (bell peppers) as well as a myriad of hot peppers like Scotch bonnets, and of course, Cayenne peppers which were named after French Guiana's capital city.

peppers and herbs

...and piles of fresh melons …


and long, long green beans.

green beans

Surinamese women from across the river sit on upturned buckets offering “yonyon-nay”. Hmm... it took me awhile to figure out that French is not their native tongue and what they're saying in a singsong voice is “onions-ail”...onions-garlic?

Hidden in the midst of several stalls is a bronze statue. The name plaque is long gone, but the animated children portrayed in the statue really caught our attention. The little boy has a fish on his pole and the little girl is hugging a monkey.

bronze statue

There's a central market building midst all the stalls. Mixed smells of food cooking, sweat, rotting vegetables, spices and sweets greet you as you walk through. It's hot, poorly ventilated and crowded. The traditional offering here is Soupe Pho, a local Hmong specialty consisting of broth, rice noodles and meat or chicken, and usually consumed for breakfast … by the Hmong and everyone else. We're told it's delicious and it's on our “try it” list before we depart French Guiana.

food hall

We attend the market twice weekly, purchasing our freshies for half the week, as well as being totally entertained for the morning. The best part? Heading home and having fresh pawpaw (papaya) with homemade yogurt for breakfast (and a croissant and cafe, of course).

To Market, To Market - Port Mathurin, Ile Rodrigues

Saturday is the big Market Day in Port Mathurin. There's a certain energy in the air on market day in small towns. People from all over the island come to sell their wares or buy their fresh food for the week. It's a social time. Several people had advised us to get there early. Since the sun rises here around 0515 at the moment, it's not hard to get up early. In fact, with the sun so bright, it's hard to sleep in. We were up and in the dinghy headed to shore by 0630.  

market scene


There was a buzz on the street. People were all heading in the same direction, chatting as they walked, stopping to shake hands or hug a friend or neighbor along the way. The main marketplace is a huge covered hall with mostly veggie vendors inside who seem to be the “regulars”. Alongside the market hall, a pleasant pedestrian alley away, was a line of meat, poultry and fish vendors, all in their own little shops. We purchased some fresh chicken for dinner. We had seen what looked like strings of sausage drying on a rooftop on an earlier visit into town. Sure enough, today the sausage was on sale at the market.




A few vendors were still setting up when we arrived, but all the fresh fruit and veggie vendors had their wares displayed and were already conducting a brisk business. A slice of squash here, some tomatoes or apples there. We purchased onions at one stall, garlic at another and broccoli and tomatoes at yet another. We do our best to spread the wealth. Fruits included local papaya, bananas and small, sweet pineapples, as well as imported melons, citrus and Australian apples. We stocked up. As usual, figuring out the new currency was a challenge. 25 rupees for onions? Are you crazy? Oh, yeah, that's less than a dollar. Okay. Let's see which coins or bills make up 25 rupees?




Vendors were set up all along the street outside the market hall and the perimeter. One fellow had a mountain of coconuts and he was hacking off the tops for his customers and supplying straws for coconut water.


coconut vendor


Behind the hall, women sold their baked goods … beautiful tarts with papaya, pineapple, coconut or banana fillings. The crusts were golden brown and very decorative … some even spelling out Rodrigues or the flavor of the tart. We couldn't resist. We chose a pineapple-papaya tart for our evening's dessert.


tart for dessert


The two main souvenir items for the island are woven items of straw made into hats and baskets and small, colorful jars (they call them “pots”) of spicy sauces in various flavors. We checked them all out, and bought three small pots to try. I also chose three small souvenirs that might be good mementos of our Rodrigues visit.


spicey sauces


After wandering around for several hours, we found an open air “food court” for an early lunch. All the locals seemed to be gathering here for a bite to eat. Little kiosks offered different fares. Hot dogs, rotis, octopus delights. We tried a fried rice concoction that was very tasty … two full plates for $5 including Cokes in old-fashioned bottles. We sat at a nearby picnic table with some locals and chatted in a mix of French and English.


food court


By Noon, the market was winding down. Vendors packed up their wares. Buyers, laden with their week's freshies, headed back home. All the local shops close at Noon on Saturdays as well. The buzz dissipated. The streets emptied for “le weekend” … life in a small town on a small island.