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  available from Amazon; Marjorie’s blog about markets, travel, antiques and more is at

Related Articles

4 of the best restaurants in Nice that are also great value

There are hundreds of restaurants in Nice – the only challenge in enjoying great southern French dishes, is which one to pick. They’re big on flavour in the south of France, the Mediterranean influence is tinged with a hint of Italian style. These four restaurants are in the centre, not expensive and all offer the […]

Continue Reading

Hiking in the Ecrins National Park Haute-Alpes France

Ecrins National Park is about a 90 minute drive east of Grenoble. It’s the largest National Park in France and features some of the wildest and most dramatic scenery in the Alps. Perhaps because of that, it remains relatively unknown, its paths less travelled than those famous trails further north around Mont Blanc. One of […]

Continue Reading

How to do Nice on a budget

How to do Nice on a budget

Written by on February 19, 2018 in Provence-Alpes

Imagine you’re wandering through the winding narrow streets in the old town of Nice. The sun is beating down, the sky is a deep spirit-lifting blue.  You stop at Cours Saleya market to buy a snack – maybe socca, the local speciality, a pancake made from chick peas. Perhaps a punnet of sweet smelling strawberries, […]

Continue Reading

3 of the most beautiful villages in Provence

We look at some of the most beautiful villages in Provence – in a region known for its extraordinary charm, these three stand out… Gordes – the heart of Provence If there is one place on the bucket list of most visitors to Provence, it has to be Gordes. It’s almost like going to Paris […]

Continue Reading

Pain Amour et Chocolat Festival in Antibes

I am a hopeless Francophile, my husband joined me when we married 14 years ago. Any excuse within reason (and a decent airfare from Arizona) and we are on a plane headed to France, especially the Côte d’ Azur. The turquoise sea, rocky cliffs, dazzling sunshine, friendly people, incredible food and wine, it’s sheer bliss. […]

Continue Reading


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

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.