One of the best ways you can experience a place is to visit the local market, to get your hands on the local produce, to have your eyes take in the colors, and your ears take in the sounds. For me this all comes together with the colors of the aubergines mixed with the bright blue skies of the markets in Provence. No matter where you are in the region, there will be a local market a short drive or walk away. And, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing like the sunny skies and bright colors at the Marches Provençal!
The stands are chock full of fruits and vegetables, olives, saucissons, cheese, seafood, herbs, honey, flowers, bread, and more.
There is an energy in the air as you stroll from stall to stall, discovering what each vendor has on offer. Shoppers are filled with excitement as they hunt for the freshest seasonal and local ingredients.
Each village has their own market day, and some have more than one per week. With few exceptions, outdoor markets typically happen in the morning and end around noon, which is just in time to prepare lunch with all of the delicious goodies you procured.
On a recent trip to the Luberon in Provence, I visited the wonderful Sunday market in Apt. I tagged along with Chef Laurent (of the lovely La Bastide de Marie) prior to my afternoon cooking class with him. A Provence market visit with a chef is something I have always hoped to experience. Each pinch, poke, sniff, and taste, highlighted the importance of ultra fresh ingredients in French cooking. I was even privy to a top secret black truffle exchange!
We scoured the market for the last of the season’s delicacies which would be used in our afternoons dishes. Our haul included eggplant, courgettes, lavender honey, and a bouquet of gorgeous and brightly colored sunflowers for my room.
On a side note, why is it that if you visit a market on your trip to a foreign country that you’ll have a disproportionate amount of photos of fruit and veggies than anything else on the trip?
Now, not all markets are only about food – you can also find clothes, fabrics, bedspreads and tablecloths, toiletries, perfume, and many other things you probably didn’t know you needed. The markets are also the best place to find unique souvenirs to bring home.
I hope that you, too, get a chance to walk, talk, sniff, savor, and shop-til-you-drop in the markets of Provence.
Written by Jenifer Brouillard (@roamingjen), Luxury Travel Advisor. Images provided by Jenifer Brouillard and Casto Travel.