Annecy’s Fair of St Andrew
Saint Andrew is said to have been a Galilean fisherman so it seems very apt for a fair and market in his name to be held close to Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps each year. The Foire de la Saint-André (“Fair of Saint Andrew”) takes place in Annecy on the first Tuesday in December and hundreds of traders gather to sell their products of all kinds. This is a wonderful market for buying the best local produce from the region, and besides food and wines there are arts and crafts. The popularity of this annual event always ensures an attendance by thousands of people who come from near and far to enjoy this winter fair. This year the Fair of St Andrew took place on 6 December and was open from 8am until 6pm in the evening.
Market stall in Annecy (Photo: Guilhem Vellut)
In the past five centuries, this traditional annual fair presented an opportunity for local farmers and traders from other villages in the Haute-Savoie region to come together and sell or trade their wares. It was a time for buying and selling and stocking up on items and produce you would need for the winter months ahead. The tradition continues today and visitors to the fair can spend time browsing the stalls to find just what they are looking for, and to buy seasonal gifts for family and loved ones.
Fluency in French helps
There is no charge for admittance to the fair and visitors are free to enjoy looking for a bargain or several. Fluency in French is a really big help when it comes to haggling over an item you want but are hoping to get a bit cheaper. We at Ifalpes believe Annecy is a wonderful place to learn and practice French because, not only is it in France, but our school for French language courses is based here. Of course, we take our students to the fair to give them the opportunity to put their new skills to use.
There will be around 1,100 merchants taking part in the event and the market will extend over 5.5km of the town of Annecy.
French cheese (Photo: Michael Clarke Stuff)
Cheeses are always on sale at markets in Annecy and are made using milk from the cows that spend summer up in the alpine pastures. There are many types of cheese that are popular in France, and as it happens, there is even a French St Andre cheese that would be just right for the fair in honour of the saint it is named after. It comes from Normandy though, which is a bit far away from Annecy, so there might not be any on sale but there is sure to be plenty of delicious local cheese varieties such as Beaufort and Reblochon.
With the location for this event and the wide variety of items of produce on sale, it is easy to see why the Fair of St Andrew is one of the most popular of the many traditional markets that are held in Annecy.