A Trip to the Markets

Someone recently asked me if I go to “all of the markets” when I’m in Provence (and if my husband goes to all of the markets also).  Well, of course, there are multiple markets throughout the region every day of the week, so going to all of them would take most of the summer season.  But, yes, we do usually go to one each day, except for Mondays which tend to have very few markets because even the vendors need an occasional break.  “But how can you do that much shopping?” 

The truth is that shopping is only a part of going to the market and each market has its own personality.  Each has its own day of the week — a Wednesday market can feel quite different from a Sunday market.  Some markets are in the mornings, while others are in the evenings.  Each has its own products — some have antiques, others have locally grown food or handmade items, while some may have a vendor that is unique to that particular town.  Several markets are small, so small that most tourists don’t even know they occur as they are there mainly to serve the local village.  Others are so huge and sprawling that you must arrive early to avoid the parking lot of cars waiting to enter a parking lot.  You may have to make plans to meet friends at a specific time and place or you will surely become entrapped in the serpentine swirl of people.  And you usually need take a bit of a café break halfway through the morning to rest up.

But there is the aspect of enjoying the environment of the market as somewhat of a flâneur or flâneuse, or one who wanders with no purpose.  It is then that you can observe the real heartbeat of the market.  I love watching other market shoppers negotiate prices at a stall. Or chatting with some of the locals. Or laughing as the local golden retriever takes a head-first plunge into the antiquated but cold village fountain.

And yes, my husband, the self-described Sherpa, may only be able to look at linens and lavender for so long, but he definitely enjoys the ambiance and people-watching!

So are you ready to take a stroll with us through the markets?