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In the market for a feast!

With the long, dark nights of winter upon us, thoughts turn to seeking comfort and indulgence to bring warmth or perhaps as a reward for a long year of hard work. We look to stock up for the festivities and bring the feast to families and loved ones. Most people look forward with gusto to relaxing and supping on the wealth of joyous fare that is available at this time of year.

And all over Europe, you can find a Christkindlmarkt, a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during Advent. Popular attractions include Nativity scenes, traditional Christmas cookies, gingerbread, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and candied fruit to banish the winter chills and bring joy to the heart.

But a place where one can stock up on fresh goods and victuals isn’t just for Christmas and many cities have embraced the concept of markets as tourist attractions as food trends develop and people look for alternatives to the supermarkets. Flexicover Teamlooks at some great places that foodies will just love!

Markthal; Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and their new Markthal is a sensory explosion! The spectacular horseshoe-shaped arch opened in October to bring a space where living, working, shopping, eating and drinking all come together. The 100 fresh produce units are bulging with so much variety, it’s hard to do justice to every outlet. Here you’ll find fresh fish, spicy sausages and an array of cheesemongers alongside artisan bakers, ice-cream parlours and other local, organic produce. Hang around for the night-time buzz and watch the light show, projected onto the vibrantly coloured ceiling!

Kauppatori; Helsinki, Finland

The Finnish capital’s Market Square has an amazing setting, right up against the icy Baltic waters and is a very popular tourist attraction. An array of food stalls sell fresh fish alongside traditional delights and treats, such as Karelian pasties and meaty delicacies like reindeer and bear. The herring or salmon, served with hot potatoes, are definitely recommended - particularly in October when the annual silakkamarkkinat (‘herring market’) is on. Heated tents during winter months make the Square easy and comfortable to visit. A short break here will definitely involve delicious treats and bringing home a veritable bounty!

Naschmarkt; Vienna, Austria

Located by the Wien River, the Naschmarkt is a popular meeting spot for visitors and locals alike since its origins as a milk and fresh goods market in the 16th century. The 1.5km market boasts over 120 stands, each selling myriad delicacies and treats, from traditionally Viennese items to Indian, Vietnamese and Italian fine foods and spices. Try proper Viennese coffee with pancakes (particularly Kaiserschmarrn, a roughly shredded crêpe topped with compote or syrup) or schnitzel in one of the many pioneering and historic cafés that surround the plaza.

Marché Raspail; Paris, France

Even in a city with over 70 open air markets, the Marché Raspail is one of the most renowned, being the most glamorous on the Left Bank of Paris - partly for its 1920s history but also its location in the 6th arrondissement as where many celebrities do their shopping. The organic (or ‘bio’) market on Sundays is considered to have the city’s finest organic products and has the only food trucks in France - this is a trendy market for gourmands! French regional specialities abound and if organic isn’t your style, the Tuesday and Friday market days cater more for the appetites and needs of residents.

Berlin Village Market; Berlin, Germany

A new street food market opened in August 2014 in the bohemian Friedrichshain area of central Berlin and makes for a great spot to check out if there on a Sunday. Street music, DJs, theatrical productions accompany a bounteous selection of food stalls and trucks offer their wares and creativity long into the night, all creating a vibrant atmosphere. Foodie or not, try the pulled pork burgers from Gorilla BBQ or sample the chilli, bacon & chocolate tarts from “pies and love” along with vegan waffles and champagne cocktails. And stay on after 10pm and you can dance until dawn at this market like no other!

Wherever your travels take you this year and wherever you are fortunate enough to try your hand at something new, we at Flexicover Team are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

Happy travels!