Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Castries Market

Up next in our Top Food Markets of the World series is number 3 on National Geographic’s list – the Castries Market in St. Lucia.

via Flickr by Jorge
Located smack-bang in the capital city, the Castries Market as it stands today has been in operation for more than 100 years! What originally began in 1881 as a way to improve the town’s appearance has now become a main-stay in the St. Lucian culture. The market’s bright orange roof provides shelter to three different markets: the craft market, the farmers’ market, and the food market. The market first opened on July 2, 1894 by British colonial administrator and author, Sir Charles Bruce, and quickly became a bustling hub for locals and tourists alike.

So here we go – let’s take a closer look!

Castries Market

Location: Castries, St. Lucia

Operating Hours:

  • Monday through Saturday, all day
  • Closed on Sundays

Where Should I Go?

via Flickr by Jorge
As always, where you go depends on what you’re looking for! If you’re in search of pottery, wood carvings, hand-woven straw hats, or other small trinkets, then you should head on over to the craft market. If it’s spices that you’re after, then you should check the tables by the farmers’ market – they are brimming with almost every exotic spice that you can imagine. Visit the food market if you fancy a bite to eat and are interested in trying authentic local cuisine. And of course, if it’s fresh produce and fruits that you’re after then you need to visit the farmers’ market.

What Visitors Are Saying:

“The town was very beautiful, but the market was a let down. Imagine your worst flea market times two.”  - Pattersonrebel
“This is a great place to go to see the local markets and to walk the streets of Castries and see the cruise ships docking.” – BU88LS 
“We got jewelry, spices, vanilla, carvings and more for such reasonable prices.” – michelewelker 
“In summary, this market place is mainly a tourist trap. If you are into looking at endless T-shirts and other souvenirs, then you may like it.” – igolfCA 
“It’s worth visiting the market for your locally grown vanilla beans, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks.” – Denise M 
“We tried; but could not find anything of interest worth buying.” – Tom D 
“Castries Market is an absolute dump. It is dirty and it stinks!!!! The stallholders try to rip you off and then you get hassled by the bums. Don’t waste your time or money.” – NewcastleMarkone
As you can see, the reviews on this market are a little mixed – apparently it’s a love it/hate it situation! In fact, a local St. Lucian newspaper noted that locals were “shocked by the recognition from National Geographic. After all the Market, surrounded by the CDC buildings has been largely known for all the wrong things.”

The Bottom Line

via Flickr by Ian Gratton
Even though the final verdict is out on this market, there are enough positive first-hand accounts from visitors that I’m still interested in visiting the Castries Market. While the farmers’ market sounds pretty appealing, I think my first stop would be to the food market to try freshly made roti or some authentic fish soup. I guess I’ll just have to visit in-person to see what all the fuss is about...

Have you visited the Castries Market before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below.