Shop like a local
In Nouméa it’s easy to shop for ingredients to prepare meals yourself, or to buy ready-made fresh meals to enjoy at your own leisure.
Supermarkets, some local butchers (boucheries), and caterers (traiteurs) do a great line of meals to-go, such as duck confit and sauté potatoes, quiche Lorraine or stuffed cabbage leaves. These are great if you’re staying in an apartment or a hotel room with a kitchenette. Another memorable way to experience French food is to shop for picnic fare at any number of specialty food stores, European-style supermarkets and local markets.
Here’s a guide to shopping at local markets, supermarkets and specialty food and wine stores.
You’ll find local food shops, such as bakeries, dotted around central Nouméa and the surrounding suburbs. To help find these savoury and sweet havens here are a few names to keep an eye out for…
A pâtisserie is a cake/pastry shop – you’ll find the decadent pastries, tarts, flans, éclairs and chocolate treats very hard to resist. A boulangerie is a bakery where you can buy a selection of authentic French breads from baguettes to sourdough. Epicurie is a delicatessen; and supermarché is a supermarket, where you will also be able to buy take-out meals. A roulotte is a food caravan where you can buy snacks like toasted sandwiches, crêpes, waffles and ice creams. A traiteur is a caterer that sells take-out meals. A great example is George’s Traiteur in central Nouméa where you can either eat in or take away a large choice of meals and excellent homemade pastries. Boucheries (butchers) sell meat, of course, but they often sell prepared meals to take-out.
Nouméa’s Municipal Market
The lively cosmopolitan Nouméa Market sits beside the marina at Port Moselle. Enjoy a traditional French breakfast at the vibrant “La Buvette du Marché” and stroll at your leisure to take in the wide range of arts and crafts and fresh produce including fruit and vegetables, bread, cakes, olives, meat and fish.
The market atmosphere is always lively and the stalls overflow with colourful vegetables, juicy tropical fruits, herbs and spices and vivid exotic flowers. Managed for the most part by Melanesian, Vietnamese and Indonesian locals, the market is open every day (except on Mondays) from around 5am to midday.
Discover the fish market at the back of the produce section to marvel at the neat displays of whole fish, crabs, locally farmed prawns and oysters and meaty tuna fillets perfect for making a batch of poisson cru which is a Polynesian dish, consisting of raw fish marinated in citrus juice and coconut milk. The fishing boats are docked nearby signalling that you can’t get much fresher seafood than this.
There’s also a delicatessen section selling pâtes and terrines and all kinds of French, Vietnamese and Indonesian meals to take away.
This makes the market a great place to shop for a picnic or a complete meal to take back to your accommodation.
New Caledonian supermarkets are quite an experience and it’s really worthwhile visiting at least one just to see the array of French style food and wine.
The fresh food section of French supermarkets is astounding. You’ll find many easy meal ideas, as well as wonderful French cheeses; charcuterie (smallgoods) such as French pâtes, terrines, salami and foie gras; plus prepared meals and salads.
There are seemingly endless rows of fresh and packaged goods and often in-store bakeries, offering French pastries and piles of newly baked baguettes and other French breads.
A great picnic combination is always: a gorgeously gooey French cheese, rustic coarse-texture pork pâté, a baguette (naturally), and a good-value bottle of French wine or bubbles. Remember to grab a cork screw though, as screw caps are not de rigueur with French wines.
All the supermarkets in Nouméa sell a good selection of wines, ranging from the affordable to more extravagant, special bottles. There’s a good selection of beers available too, with locally brewed ‘Number One’ beer proving very popular.
Supermarkets also do a great line of meals to-go, such as duck confit and roast potatoes, quiche Lorraine, vol au vents, stews, and stuffed vegetables. If you’re staying in a serviced apartment or perhaps in a hotel with a kitchenette, then you’ll be able to warm a take-out French meal and dine at your own table.
- Casino Johnston Supermarché, next to the cruise ship terminal, near the city centre
- Casino Supermarché, Port Plaisance shopping centre (waterfront road to Anse Vata)
- Super U Supermarché, located on the route de Anse Vata.
Gourmet and specialty stores
As per the streets of Paris, specialised gourmet shops can be found around Nouméa.
- Maison Ballande sells an excellent range of gourmet products and also holds regular tastings. Here you can stock up on a range of excellent pâtes, terrines, foie gras and rillettes. The shop is also stocked with fresh local produce and an impressive wine selection. It is located at Baie de l’Orphelinat.
- As you can imagine, New Caledonia restaurants list a wonderful choice of French wines. To buy your own, visit Pavillon des Vins and Vinothèque for both French and other imported wines
- Chocolats Morand specialises in beautiful handmade chocolates and cakes and is located near the Nouméa City Centre in the Latin Quarter. Classically French-trained owner Patrick sources chocolate from all over the world to feature in his inventive creations. At his store you’ll not only find the finest chocolates but also mouth-watering sweets inspired by the tropical flavors of New Caledonia.
- Tonton Jules, another excellent chocolate shop on the other side of the Place des Cocotiers, often features a spectacular chocolate fountain in the window