It's a tradition in New Orleans to buy fresh seafood and produce directly from local fishermen and farmers. The French Market, located in the French Quarter, was founded in 1791 and is the oldest open-air market in the United States. It is reminiscent of street markets in Europe but it has its own distinct NOLA personality.
These markets have expanded to include flea markets where you can find used items of every description, plus new arts and crafts by local artisans. Of course, because this is New Orleans, there's almost always live music.
The French Market, found in the French Quarter, is the oldest and largest of all of the farmers and flea markets in New Orleans. Both the farmers market and the flea market are open every day. The flea market hosts sellers from all over the world. You'll find antiques, clothing, jewelry, and crafts. The farmers market, in the Farmers Market Pavilion, brims with local fresh produce and seafood, and its restaurants serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You'll also find spices, New Orleans specialties such as pralines, gumbo, cheeses, and wines, plus crepes, sandwiches, salads, and sweet goodies.
You'll also occasionally see chefs and restaurants putting on cooking demonstrations at the farmers market.
Held on the first Saturday of every month except July and August, the Freret Market has three categories: food, art, and flea. Local restaurants are there, offering samples, and there's always live music. The Freret Market is located in the 4400 block of Freret Street near its intersection with Napoleon Avenue.
This unusual art market happens on Frenchmen Street, which is the number one music street of the Big Easy. You might be shopping, but you'll hear that sweet sound wafting out of the clubs surrounding you since this market is open late on Thursday through Monday. Search through art, jewelry, and crafts, and talk with New Orleans artists on this market music adventure.
The Arts Market of New Orleans occurs on the last Saturday of every month in Palmer Park in the Uptown/Garden District. It hosts local and regional artists and crafters who offer up a huge variety of handmade wares. Music fills the air, and food vendors are easy to find.
There are four Crescent City Farmers Markets in New Orleans. The Downtown Market is held every Saturday morning on the corner of Carondelet and Julia streets. There's one on Tuesday mornings at 200 Broadway at the Mississippi River. Also, there's a Mid-City Market on Thursdays at 3700 Orleans Avenue at the Bayou. The French Quarter Market is open Wednesdays from mid-October through mid-June in the French Market. You'll get live music and cooking demonstrations with your fresh produce at this seasonal market.