The capital of the Pacific Island of New Caledonian, an overseas territory of France, Noumea offers exciting things to do and wonderfully varied things to purchase.
The Central Markets
This covered air market is where many locals go to buy and sell all kinds of products. Head here for cheaper prices than the rest of the city’s supermarkets. The market is open from early in the morning until noon. You will find lots of fresh fish, that are only found in the local waters, as well as items toys for your children. This is a good place to pick up an inexpensive memento of your vacation. Keep in mind that some English is spoken but it helps to have some French as well. You should also bring local currency rather than dollars as they not always accepted by vendors.
Prices for food can be higher in Noumea than in many other parts of the Pacific. One way to save money is to work with the area’s French culture. France culinary influence is everywhere you look. Many places offer a fine French baguette that is as good as anything you might find in France and often just as cheap. Pair with local ham, mustard and cheese or some fish and a pastry and then head for the public square to enjoy a fine lunch. Many places also offer inexpensive beer and other alcoholic beverages you can sample and then bring home with you.
New Caledonia has been inhabited for centuries. In the process, it has been influenced by many cultures including those of the Pacific. As one of the regional population centers, Noumea serves as a focal point for artists to show off their wares. It also serves as a great place to find authentic Pacific artifacts that illustrate the work of the indigenous inhabitants. Multiple regional art galleries can be found along the streets in the center of the city. In many cases, you can speak with the owner of the shop and find out the history of the piece. Look for items like brightly colored masks, shields representing the regional warrior culture, and arrows that were intended for use in defense. Many items are small enough to fit in your suitcase.
Another regional specialty are the area’s pearls. Many varieties of pearls can be found in shops here. Colors range from pure white, to ivory, to a deep black with a sheen. You can buy jewelry of all kinds including rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. A good jeweler can help you understand how pearls are formed and then assist you as find the right piece.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Noumea.
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