Vanishing markets

Only a few feet away from the sea and from the great hotels and casinos there is France’s oldest covered market: the Cité de la Buffa. Entering the market, there is a strange feeling of dismay, like arriving too late at a country fair: life is somewhere else. Baskets of coloured fruit and fresh and fragrant vegetables are in stark contrast with the surrounding greyness. The quality of the food is excellent and the prices are average, and if something is more expensive, it’s because it has been produced locally. It is mostly elderly people who keep the market alive, preferring it to the adjoining supermarket.Only a few shopkeepers are still working, and they know it’s just a matter of time. After years of fights and negotiations, a real estate company has purchased the land on which the market rises and by 2012 there will be a retirement home, some flats and a residents’ parking. This market slowly dying is the true image of what is happening in the entire region: agriculture and the primary sector are receding in favour of tourism and the service sector. As local people say, the only thing that grows well here is cement.

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