Markets in southern France... blogs have been written about them, stories in travel magazines, travel sections of newspapers, travel shows... the list goes on and on and somehow we never tire of learning about markets in Provence. Just the mention of going to a market in France conjures up images (smells, textures, sounds) for those of us who have experienced it. I think, visiting a market should be on everyone's bucket list.
One of my favourite villages in France is Uzès (see previous blog http://lilideluxe.blogspot.ca/2012/04/uzes-one-of-loveliest-villages-in.html). It has (in my opinion) the best market in southern France.
What is on your shopping list?
Fresh from the farm produce, freshly killed chickens, cheese right from the cheesemaker, baguettes still hot from the boulangerie, olives straight from the trees, honey from the hive... it can all be found here.
The market in Uzès is in The Place aux Herbes, with its fountain, arcades and terrace cafés. The plane trees provide much needed shade in the summer months.
In order to enjoy your experience at the market, one must arrive early to find parking. The market can be very crowded if it is in a popular (read touristy) village or town. One needs to practice their patience when at the market. The vendors are more then willing to give you samples and to talk about their "goods" to each and every customer!
Remember to bring your own basket or bags to carry all your purchases.
Mini-Lili loves olives. She especially likes Picholine olives. They are small green olives that have a very "meaty" texture and refreshing taste. It is the most widely available cultivar in France. Originally from Gard in southern France, picholine olives are grown all over the world today. The Picholine is best known as a cocktail olive, though it is also used to make olive oil. Mini-Lili can eat her own weight in green olives! Papa prefers Nyon olives.They are oil cured, chewy with a pleasantly bitter taste. In the picture above, Mini-Lili and her papa are sampling green olives.
Honey... now that you have decided that yes, you would love to have some "fresh from the beehive honey", you have to decide which flavour. Honey from bees that feed on specific plants render honey with unique flavors. To taste the difference, try honey on a baguette - or do what professional tasters do and try some all by itself spooned out of the jar. Apparently, Mini-Lili considers herself a professional taster because she likes honey on a stick, provided by the vendor, on its own. Her favourite flavour is lavender.
A trip to the market would not be complete without stopping by the flower vendor and picking up a bouquet for the house, gîte, apartment, or hotel room. The French love their flowers.
After spending the morning shopping and wandering around the market one can sit at a local café and listen to the musicians. My family has spent many hours sipping our café noisette while listening to amazing jazz, classical and blues. This is a great way to end your market experience.