Discovering the Markets of Provence

Written by on March 3, 2017 in Markets, Provence-Alpes

Size isn’t everything as far as Provençal markets go. Large markets of Provence, such as les grands marchés in Arles and Aix-en-Provence, are extravaganzas that extend over multiple blocks with a couple hundred vendors selling almost every kind of good from soaps and handbags to fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. To appreciate the range of Provençal markets, however, I recommend visiting a mix of city and village markets. Many of the small village markets exude an outsized charm.

Markets of Provence: Cucuron

Take, for example, the Tuesday morning market in the village of Cucuron.  Nestled in the Luberon—hilly and mountainous terrain that extends eastward from the Rhône to the Alps – Cucuron is surrounded by grapevines and olive trees. What gives the Cucuron’s market its distinctive character is its unique physical setting. The market takes place around the l’étang, or water basin, in the village’s center. Plane trees over 200 years old grace the perimeter of the pond. The water’s calm surface reflects their mottled trunks and broad leafy canopy, creating a visual spectacle. Vendors set up stalls along three sides of the basin. The market activity continues up a path at the far end.

Amble the market, and you’ll find sweet cherries and apricots plucked from nearby orchards, goat cheese (plain or sprinkled with dried herbs), honeys and jams, fat spears of local asparagus, charcuterie, olives, Iberian ham, and fresh fish. The butcher’s case includes a local specialty called caillettes aux herbes, or large meatballs made of pork and spinach. One vendor sells a wide range of kitchen tools, and I always stock up on cheese knives and other useful gadgets for my home or as gifts. There’s usually at least one local potter, and bowls and dishes in hues that evoke the green and golden hues of the landscape.

The quality at this market is high, and the ambience couldn’t be more pleasant. I’ve visited several times, including once when the windy Mistral raced through like a delinquent child, flipping over table cloths and sending merchandise flying. And yet there’s an imperturbable serenity and sense of continuity to be found at this market. Customers are mostly locals who’ve been coming here on Tuesday morning for generations. It’s a typical Provençal market in that the weekly rhythm of villagers coming out for the market is deeply embedded in the social routine.

After market, stroll the village streets and you can discover tucked away fountains, a medieval clock tower, and the remains of a dungeon.  Or enjoy a meal at La Petite Maison de Cucuron where the accomplished chef Eric Sapet presides.

There are many outstanding markets open on Tuesday in Provence—Vaison-la-Romaine, Gordes, and Tarascon to name just a few. But anyone lucky enough to visit the lovely market and village of Cucuron is likely to feel they made a good choice.

The daily markets of Provence
Three marvellous markets in Provence: L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Bonnieux, St Saturnin-les-Apt
The picture perfect poppy fields of Provence
The luscious lavender fields of Provence

By Marjorie Williams, author of Markets of Provence: Foods, Antiques, Crafts and More www.marjorierwilliams.com  available from Amazon; Marjorie’s blog about markets, travel, antiques and more is at www.marjorierwilliams.com

Related Articles

What to see in Saint-Paul-de-Vence

If you love charming villages with oodles of historic monuments and art galleries, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is definitely somewhere you should put on your must-see list. Located in the Alpes-Maritime department on the French Riviera, this medieval village is one of the prettiest hilltop towns of Provence. Cobbled streets, centuries old buildings, small squares, vaulted passageways, arcades […]

Continue Reading

What to do in St Tropez

What to do in St Tropez

Written by on April 1, 2020 in Provence-Alpes

St Tropez is possibly the world’s most famous summertime playground for the rich, celebrities, rockstars and the disgustingly rich. It’s said you can never be too rich or too gorgeous for St Tropez. But, what about the rest of us? What delights does St Tropez offer if you’re a mere mortal? It’s a fun place […]

Continue Reading

What to see and do in Antibes Juan-les-Pins

On the French Riviera, between chic Cannes and elegant Nice, sophisticated Antibes sits on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea basking in the sun… The southern French seaside resort has oodles of charm and has long lured tourists to enjoy the old town, the arty vibe, the golden sandy beaches and memorable sunsets. Writer F. […]

Continue Reading

Roman Provence

Roman Provence

Written by on March 20, 2020 in Provence-Alpes

Provence is famous for its charming hilltop villages, brilliant sunflowers, and fragrant lavender. It is also where you can find some of the best Roman ruins in all of Europe. This is because Provence was once an important part of the Roman Empire. The Romans even gave it its name: “Provence” comes from the original […]

Continue Reading

Made in Provence | Food and specialities

Wine, truffles and chocolate! And that’s just to start. Who doesn’t love Provence?  You could spend a lifetime here and still not sample all of its rich produce. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Weird, wonderful and wickedly delicious Vaucluse If you’re going to try and eat and drink your way through an entire […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top