Eat, drink and buy merrily at Frankfurt’s markets
By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 17, 2005
If you wake up on a Saturday morning with nothing to do, head to Frankfurt. There is always something going on in this central German city, even if it is just shopping and eating.
Two good places to do both are at the flea market on the banks of the Main River, and the produce market on Konstablerwache square.
The flea market has been held on the banks of the Main, in the city’s Sachsenhausen district for a couple of decades now. It was moved from this location once, and there is talk of moving it again, but for the time being, it takes place on Schaumainkai, also known as the Museumsufer, because of all the museums along the riverbank.
The flea market is an exotic mix of junk. Books, clothes, furniture, antiques, hardware, toys, appliances, CDs and DVDs compete for your hard-earned cash. You can also find pots, pans, silverware and much more. Whatever piques your fancy is probably there.
The clothes range from used designer wear to new, cheap, frilly underwear. The same goes for the antiques and furniture. Some beautiful pieces are on sale, but there are also some useless ones, unless restoration is your hobby.
An important thing to remember is to barter. Never give the seller the asking price. There is always a euro or more to be saved, and after all, sellers don’t want to take everything back home with them. Of course, if you just want to look, you don’t have to buy.
There is plenty to eat at the flea market, too: the ubiquitous bratwurst, pork steaks, döner kebabs and pretzels, all washed down with Apfelwein, a Frankfurt favorite.
Cross the river, preferably on the pedestrian Eisener Steg bridge and you come to the Römerberg, the heart of old Frankfurt, with its town hall. Walk up the pedestrian-only Neue Kräme and Liebfrauenstrasse to the Zeil, the city’s main store-lined, pedestrian shopping street. Take a right and follow it down to the Konstablerwache square and Frankfurt’s downtown, outdoor produce market.
But it is more than a market. It is the Saturday place to see and be seen. Friends meet and new friends are made.
Although there are butchers and bakers, along with merchants selling fruits, vegetables, eggs, noodles, wines, schnapps, teas and spices, the main attraction is to sit down — or stand around — and enjoy the goodies.
The butcher will be grilling brats, the baker will be selling rolls stuffed with cheese and the fruit vendor will be offering apple wine and apple juice. A sample glass at the wine merchant stand will make it easier to decide which vintage to buy.
The shoppers crowd around the tables next to the stands to try the specialties. The smell of food wafts through the air, as does the sound of cosmopolitan Frankfurt: people speaking in German, English, Italian, Japanese and many more, as the locals, the foreigners who live here and the tourists, join in a Saturday morning ritual.
On the QT ...
DIRECTIONS: The flea market is on Schaumainkai, the southern bank of the Main River, between the two pedestrian bridges, Eiserne Steg and Holbeinsteg. It is best reached by car by exiting Autobahn 3 at the Frankfurt-Süd exit and following signs to Sachsenhausen. The Walter- Kolb park garage is about two blocks east of the flea market. The nearest subway stop is Schweizerplatz on lines U1, U2 and U3.
The Konstablerwache is in downtown Frankfurt. From the south (Sachsenhausen), take Walter-Kolb-Strasse over the Main on the Alter Brücke. The Konstablerwache is two intersections up. Look for the Konstablerwache parking garage. Most of the S-Bahn lines stop here, as do lines U4, U5, U6 and U7.
COSTS: Both markets are free.
TIMES: The flea market is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the produce market is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It also takes place on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
FOOD: There are stands selling food and drink at both markets and there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars in the area.
— Michael Abrams