Markets in Provence are a celebration of agriculture, crafts, and, more broadly, the Provençal identity. For travelers, they open a door to the local foods and way of life, plus a chance to participate in a tradition that dates back centuries. I immediately became enamored with the bounty of goat cheeses, ruby cherries, fragrant strawberries, olives, and honeys with hints of the landscape’s blooms: rosemary, thyme, and lavender. The mix of colors, aromas, and flavors is downright intoxicating. At flea and antiques markets, rustic wooden chairs and antique table linens offer a glimpse into the region’s storied past. Lively conversations among shoppers and merchants reveal how integral the markets are to social bonds.
My book Markets of Provence: Food, Antiques, Crafts, and More (St. Martin’s Press) presents a curated selection of markets in Provence. I visited over a hundred and narrowed them down to those that I recommend most highly. Some are farmers’ markets, others a combination of food and crafts, plus flea and antiques markets. As with my earlier book Markets of Paris, it includes colorful photographs and is small enough to tuck into a backpack.
In Markets of Provence, the markets are organized by day of week. This makes it easy to identify which options are available. Maps, for each day of the week, locate the markets that are open that day. The book simplifies itinerary planning and gives flexibility for modifying plans once you’re there. Restaurant recommendations insure you need never go hungry. Sidebars about local farmers, chefs, useful market phrases, and shopping suggestions provide additional guidance. As commonplace as it might sound, the honest truth is that I wrote the book that I wished I’d had when I began exploring Provence.
The book includes city markets such as Arles, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, but also gives considerable emphasis to village markets, such as in Lourmarin, Cucuron, Bédoin, Eygalières, and Sault. The L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue market is well known among flea and antiques collectors, and I visited it several times, but I also made it my business to find others. And I did—antiques markets that are off the beaten track and well worth a visit.
There’s no better way to appreciate Provence than through its markets. Provence is very different from Paris, and yet it’s equally rewarding—in a big way—as a destination. I hope this book helps transport you there, even if while sitting in an armchair.