Market Visit: Carnot Market in Lyon, France

Fresh salad greens at Carnot Market

The open-air Carnot Market stands out from other markets in Lyon—and from French market tradition—because it’s an evening market held once a week, Wednesday evenings between 4-7:30PM, rather than on a morning or weekend. Most of the patrons are locals on their way home from work and this market isn’t on the radar of many tourists. It has gained prominence, however, because it is the site of an annual Christmas market held by the city of Lyon each year beginning at the end of November.

Commuters queue for their dinner ingredients
Commuters queue up for their dinner ingredients

The market gets its name because it resides on the north side of Place Carnot, a lovely square located in the Perrache quarter of the city, not far from the busy Lyon-Perrache railroad station that commuters use to travel between Lyon and Paris. The station is one of two in the city.

Contemporary Perrache railway station
Contemporary facade of the Perrache railway station

The vibrant square is park-like, filled with blooming flowers, plane trees, cypresses and oaks. There is a fountain, carousel and playground so it’s filled with people strolling or walking through it, to and from the station at almost any hour of the day.

The popular carousel
The popular carousel

At the center of the Park is a statue called the Allegory of the Republic that honors General Lazare Carnot, a French engineer, politician and mathematician. Carnot has been nicknamed the “original multitasker” because he simultaneously used all his talents to help strategize military operations during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Statue of Lazare Carnot
Statue of Lazare Carnot

There are 27 vendors at the market as well as a few outdoor cafes. The stalls offer a mix of produce, meats, cheeses, breads, flowers, and prepared foods. It was easy to fantasize picking up a few things to bring home for dinner.

Meat vendor
Meat vendor
A market wouldn't be a market without French bread
A market wouldn’t be a market without French bread
Spring plants
Spring plants

One vendor was selling slices of something with a flat round smothered with a sweet white cheese—hard to identify and even harder to resist.

Cheese galette
Cheese galette or perhaps cheese pizza? Not sure

At other stalls, vendors sold diary products and fresh cheese. Especially popular was the Brebis, Pyrenees-style sheep’s milk cheese that comes in a small round wheel.

Artisan cheeses
Dairy products
Artisanal cheeses
Artisanal cheeses

To visit all of the markets of Lyon, we probably would have had to stay in the city for at least a month. Emporion, the association of food markets in Europe, estimates that there are 26 different outdoor markets held each week in different parts of the city.

The number is not surprising in view of Lyon’s location in the agriculture-rich Rhone Valley, and the food-centric people and culture of the city.

“We must return and rent an apartment for at least a month ,” we both said, as we passed many enticing food products we would have loved to savor. If we did (make that: when we do), I would (will) probably return to this “super market” every Wednesday.

Also on

For a peek at what you might find at the Christmas Market at Place Carnot

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  1. Carnot Market looks like a wonderful place to visit and it’s very interesting to hear of an evening market. The more I read about your posts from Lyon, the more I realize how much I missed during my visit. Next time, I’ll be sure to book a few extra days to dive into the city in depth. I’ve bookmarked several of your Lyon posts to use as my guide.

  2. I love your market posts, Irene. I’m such a lover of markets and enjoy discovering the ones you’ve found. Would love to try a French food truck. Ooh la la!

  3. We’ve never been to Lyon, but this felt just like the market shopping in Paris, which we loved! We spent 3 weeks in Paris and we completely loved shopping each day for what we wanted, especially the bread and pastry. It’s such a great way to shop because it really eliminates waste.

  4. I agree that one of the more frustrating thing about visiting great markets is when one doesn’t have at least a temporary home to which to take home delicacies for home preparation and cooking. Our inadequate compromise is to shop for a picnic lunch.

  5. Carnot Market looks great. I love farmer’s markets. There is at least one evening market (one day a week) in my home city, but I haven’t visited it yet – it is in a residential area not near me.

  6. Loved this! One of my travel dreams to to rent a small house in France and be able to visit markets like this! I would love to create my daily menu from what I would find at the market! One day I hope!

  7. Hi Irene: I’m surprised there were no chocolatiers in the market as the French love their chocolate!

    Nonetheless, I love farmers’ markets wherever they are. Looks likeyou really enjoyed Lyon! I look forward to the future posts.

  8. I love the idea of nibbling my way (as if I’d have that much delicate restraint) through the market! Such a variety of tastes and choices… Your idea of renting an apartment sounds very practical and one that we’ll have to consider as we love slow travel and it sounds like Lyon is a fascinating city that will take many days to explore.

  9. One of my favorite things to do in Europe is go to the markets – what a great way to experience a city. Now I need to put Lyon on my to-do list.

  10. Everyone keeps telling me that I must see other places in France besides Paris and your post has convinced me 100%! I love the photo of the carousel and the flowers. Thank you for the information on your cameras because your photos are fabulous!!!

  11. The French really know how to do markets, don’t they? Love the looks of the cheese galette (pizza?). I know that I wouldn’t be able to resist it. Haven’t been to Lyon, but Carnot Market will be a must-experience when I do.

  12. I loved your photos and descriptions of all you saw at this delightful looking Market. I seek them out wherever I travel, and will now head to our local Farmer’s Market for fresh tomatoes and local honey!

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