Almost every Sunday after church – Jeff and our army of kids descend upon the “French Market” in downtown Geneva, Illinois. This is not your typical farmer’s market. The French Market is special. If you are a resident or visiting the Fox Valley – then going to French Market is a must. I promise you will not regret it.
The produce is exceptional. We stop at the Windy Acres Farm stand first. There are a number of other produce vendors at French Market – but we just love the team of Windy Acres. They are friendly and make good recommendations. Planning dinner becomes a game for our girls. We challenge them to pick out vegetables to eat. The kids also select fruit for school lunches and snack time. Of course we have to “sample” a few berries or grapes along the way.
A large variety of florals is for sale right across from the Windy Acres stand. I could spend hours selecting individual roses, hydrangea and greenery to make the perfect bouquet. Each week, there are new varietals to choose from. The flower vendors also make suggestions for which blooms would look nice together in an arrangement.
Moving down the line, you must stop at Gindo’s Hot Sauce and visit Mary and Chris Gindo. Gindo’s Hot Sauce is getting its own “Faves” page because we are obsessed (I mean obsessed) – with it. We literally try to come up with new things to eat it on. We put it on everything. If you do not stop at Gindo’s Hot Sauce and try the “Original Fresh and Spicy” red sauce – please just lie to me and tell me you did.
Visit Hahn’s Bakery for a homemade loaf of crusty bread or an over-sized German pretzel. Better yet – buy a baguette and pour some hot sauce on it. The young man working the stand is the son of the owner. This is one of the only stands that is “cash only” – so come prepared with a five-spot.
Round the corner toward the back of the market where you will find Alice and her family hard at work making fantastic Bolivian Cuisine at “Alice’s Corner.” My husband is particular about food (not fussy – particular). Jeff’s pallet is very developed having practically been raised by a professional chef. After one bite of Alice’s homemade empanadas – Jeff and I nearly burst into tears because they were so delicious. We promptly ate three more (each) – with the juice dripping all over the place because we couldn’t gobble them up fast enough. After wiping meat juice off his chin Jeff said: “You can tell that is a generations old recipe. Those things are made with such love and precision. Incredible.” Order everything: empanadas, rice, beans, the bread thing stuffed with more yummy stuff inside. Order it all and get a homemade strawberry lemonade to go. If any of the food actually makes it home – you have stronger will power than we do.
There are a number of other great vendors at the French Market. I love picking up naturally made soaps and other homemade bath products. Surprisingly, there are also quite a few stylish fashion forward merchants at the market as well. “Seize the Bead” is a favorite. Sue makes beautiful jewelry pieces. I recommend following her Instagram account – she is always posting pictures of stunning bracelets she’s made.
Sadly, French Market is a seasonal beast. It starts in the spring and only goes till November. However, for those who venture down Third Street in Geneva towards the Metra line – you will be in store for a true “local” treat. Not only is this a fun family activity – but you also can enjoy the live music, sample a bunch of yummy local food, and enjoy the beauty of historic Geneva.