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Shopping in Ventimiglia

By Michael Shuermann from Easy Hiker

I still remember the first time we came into contact with Ventimiglia market – without even knowing that such a thing existed. We were boarding the local train from Nice to Menton, eastwards down the coast of the French Riviera in the direction of the Italian border. We were amazed to find it packed to the rafters at around 11 am on a Friday. From other trips on that line, we had been used to having a choice of seats on a weekday morning, but on that day, it seemed as though the entire population of the Cote d’Azur was on the move.

We did not find out until much later what was going on, but all these crowds were going to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia – the last stop on that line – for the popular weekly Friday street market.
The market mainly offers clothes, handbags and other leather goods – of mixed quality, it must be said, but occasionally, you can find well-crafted products at large discounts.

One of the market’s attractions apparently has something to do with the fact that – whisper it – the Italian police is less strict than its French counterpart in pursuing brand counterfeiters, so the French customs occasionally stop people on their way back from the market, asking them where they bought their shiny and new “Louis Vuitton handbag”. Be forwarned.

The market also features a section where farmers offer domestic food products. You can buy specialties from all over Italy here – Calabrian sausages, Parmesan cheese, olive oil – but also local produce such as sun-dried tomatoes and home-made pesto sauce, one of the things for which the province of Liguria (which includes Ventimiglia) is famous.

Have a coffee in one of the many charming little coffee houses around the 1930s municipio, the City Hall. You are only 15 km away from the French border town of Menton, but you will already feel a marked difference in the general liveliness (and noise levels) of the street life.
On market days, there is also a particularly large number of ambulant traders around who are walking from cafe to cafe peddling key chains that glow in the dark, small novelty household items and the like.

We have gone shopping many times at Ventimiglia market, and often, what we have bought from the peddlers turned out to be our most unforgettable purchases. What would our lives have been without the cicada fridge magnet that starts to sing when somebody approaches it?
You can reach Ventimiglia conveniently by local train (TER) from Nice. Trains leave frequently, generally every 30 minutes throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a valid ID!

By Michael Shuermann from Easy Hiker 

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