“Mapuru a Paraita”: the name of Papeete’s market stands proudly at the entrance to the Polynesian capital’s most popular tourist attraction, located in the heart of the historic quarter and just a stone’s throw from the seafront.
In this vast renovated market hall extending across 7,000m² of space on two floors, the atmosphere is teeming with life from the very early hours of the morning.
On the ground floor, fruit and vegetable sellers stand in front of their multi-coloured stalls where breadfruit, yams, taro and sweet potatoes vie for space alongside guavas, mangoes, soursops, barbadines and sweetsops. From here, a whole array of new aromas attack the senses as you head towards stalls selling fresh fish and teeming with the treasures of Polynesia’s underwater world, such as tuna, bonito, mahi mahi, parrot fish, mullet etc – it’s impossible to list them all!
To complete your gastronomic tour, Tahiti’s meat-producers will be delighted if you try the island’s traditional suckling pig with its characteristic caramelised skin – an absolute must for those keen to experience typical Polynesian cuisine.
You can then continue to the flower section and watch “mamas” (grandmothers) create garlands and necklaces from typical flowers such as the Tahitian tiaré, tipanier, pitate (local jasmine) and taina. These floral perfumes will follow you as you head upstairs to the floor dedicated to Polynesian arts and crafts: it’s difficult to choose between the woven hats from the Austral islands, necklaces and sculptures from the Marquesas islands, sarongs and floral shirts, baskets and “tifaifais” – the extraordinary patchwork bedspreads which inspired the painters Matisse and Gauguin.
Before heading back downstairs, enjoy the view of the entire market with its colourful stalls and busy traders.
Open Monday 5am to 5.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday 4am to 5.30pm, and Sunday 3am to 9am. Rue Edouard Ahnne, 98714 Papeete.