This week, visitors to Prague’s Na Kampě street at the foot of the Charles Bridge have the chance to sample champagne, charcuterie, and escargot at the annual French Market. 2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the event, and organizers have revamped this year’s market to accommodate its outsized popularity.
French expatriate Thomas Bouton has spearheaded the market with event management company Kazak since its inception. He told me that the big crowds create a jovial atmosphere at the event, which is always held in the season of Bastille Day, or the French national day. But he also noted that the market is, as he puts it, “suffering from its success.”
“I'd like to invite more vendors every year to this market because I
think many people are doing interesting things. But it's very
difficult for me to get some more space on the square. So therefore
I've decided to reduce the size of the stands to welcome more
exhibitors. So it means there will definitely be less products, we will
have very much more concentration of choice, but then at least they will be
present with their top sellers with their interesting things.”
This year’s expanded lineup of vendors includes sellers of wine, cheeses, and lavender products, as well as seafood, pastries, and snails that visitors enjoy right on the square. Pierre Jamet says he was attracted by the atmosphere as a tourist and decided to return this year as an exhibitor.
“So we are a producer in France, of course, in Beaujolais area. We don't make only wine in Beaujolais, but also oils. We are making virgin oils only, made of dry fruits or seeds. I was in Prague last year as a tourist, and I was here and I saw the market and I said, it's really, really nice. And I saw all the people and I said, I must come here with our products.”
According to Bouton, an Italian cheese market is on the horizon this September, the first event of its kind for the Kazak team. But from now through Sunday, their focus is on the culture and cuisine he knows best. And despite all the success, they don’t seem to be suffering too much.
“Everybody's happy to be there. Altogether, I think we are creating an atmosphere where people feel good, it's a kind of holidays. Through the years it's getting more and more popular. And we try to welcome as much people as we can in that little square and…well, we like it.”