Hanoi's weekend market

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  The Tay Ho Weekend Market near Hanoi's West Lake is a big hit with both expats and locals for its clean foods, books, and a range of other stuff

Located in a small lane near breezy West Lake in Hanoi, the Tay Ho Weekend Market has for two years been a popular place for locals to hang around, meeting friends and, especially, shopping for good, safe food for their family every Saturday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The market, which opened in 2009, was a brainchild of a Frenchman, Patrice Gautier, who is the manager of Asian Veterinary and Livestock Services (ASVELIS).

Gautier is dedicated to food safety which is still not a very common concept in most Vietnamese markets. He and his wife first opened a shop called Naturally Vietnam to introduce quality poultry products produced by some local farmers under the USAID/STOP AI project.

They then invited some other food companies to join, and the market opened in the front yard of ASVELIS's office on To Ngoc Van Street.

Here, foreign residents living in the vicinity could find essential foods like chicken, duck, vegetables, eggs, milk, bread, and others. Also on offer were dried fruit and nuts, honey, and wine. Almost all the items were made in Vietnam and have proper indications of origin.

Pham Ngoc Diep, the manager of the market, says they are having more and more local participation. "Now half our shoppers and suppliers are Vietnamese and this is what we aim for," she says.

"Safety, traceability, natural origin, and good taste are some basic things we need our suppliers to ensure. And we want to encourage local people to produce and use clean and safe food."

TAY HO WEEKEND MARKET

No 4, Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi

Tel: (04) 6 674 4130, 0128 909 0158

Email: info@naturallyvietnam.com

Because of this commitment, shoppers can trust the quality of the products on sale here. Customers can also taste the products before purchasing.

With more and more products arriving, the market was expanded to another yard opposite the old one. Thus, now, besides food and beverages, a wide range of books, clothes, accessories, cosmetics, and others are also sold. There are even stalls that sell quilts, teddy bears, and used clothes.

Book lovers can find good books at cheap prices since a group organizes used book sales for its projects.

Some of the most popular items here include free-range chicken eggs, honey, and vegetables. A shop assistant at the poultry products stall says customers have to place orders for free-range chicken eggs in advance because they sell like hot cakes on market days.

A large stall selling cosmetics and many kinds of skincare products also attracts a lot of visitors. Its owner, Jean Louis Valade, is a Frenchman who has been working in this business for two years in Vietnam. "We have both products made in Vietnam and imported from France," he says, "but they have one thing in common they are made from natural ingredients."

Valade has a body care and wellness center on Au Co Street. "I find this a really good place to make more people know about our products," he says.

Next to his is a small stall selling Christmas trees that has just opened, adding color to the market. The owner of the stall, Bich Diep, eagerly shows a couple of huge pine trees that she claims are better than imported ones. "We have a big farm in a Hanoi suburb and are ready to provide a good collection for this season."

The market does not only sell some essential goods but also offers a chance for shoppers to meet and relax.

An Australian man named Peter says he brings his young daughter on every market day. "My daughter and I both love this place and we usually arrive early to have breakfast and chat with friends.

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