Handmade Provençal pottery. Photo by Ashley Tinker
The quality of the produce is impressive here in Provence. However, all produce is not created equal. The first year I was here, I grew many of my own vegetables. I later wondered why I went through all that trouble. There are some producer’s markets where farmers sell their pickings from that very morning. How can you tell? All I can say is that after 2.5 years here, I can easily tell which veggies are exceedingly versus very fresh.
Artichokes, photo by Ashley Tinker.
I go to these three markets when I want to make sure I’m getting the best quality for the best prices direct from the farmers. Also, may I point out that these products are cheaper as well as better quality. Many of the stands at farmer’s markets (including cheese and meat) specialize in one product. Here are three of the best markets in Provence.
These markets start earlier than other markets. They will be set up 8 am and most likely finish by 11:30 am.
Handmade goat cheese, photo by Ashley Tinker.
What you’ll find at a Marché du Producteur (Farmer’s market):
Veggies, fruits, cheeses from small producers, juices, meats, live animals, plants/flowers, honey, olive oil, homemade jams, homemade soups (depending on the season).
Sénas, photo by France this Way
Sénas – Saturday
This market occurs various times a week but is biggest on Saturday. It’s so seasonal that I can see from one week to the next when rose garlic morphs into purple garlic or how the varieties of potatoes change. It’s my favorite.
Mouries Olive Festival, via AnotherHeader.wordpress.com
Make a day of it:
After the market head towards Aureille where you’ll see stunning views of the Alpilles. Trip one, or a couple of the excellent organic AOC Vineyards of Les Baux and have lunch in either Maussane-les-Alpilles, Paradou or Saint Remy de Provence. You can also trip the village mill in either Mouriès or Maussane; this is where the most, and the best, olive oil is produced in France.
The Lavender Museum in Coustellet. Photo Flickr.com
Coustellet – Sunday
This is a large market that consists of two parts. The village of Coustellet is divided by a main road that allows for traffic to pass to the picturesque Luberon from Avignon. On one side of this road you’ll find a Provencal style market, and on the other you’ll find a fantastic farmer’s market that consists of mostly organic produce.
Baby grapevines in Les Baux, photo by Ashley Tinker.
Make a day of it:
Chanterelles, photo by Ashley Tinker.
Velleron – Daily except Sunday
The only night market on the list, Velleron is considered one of the best markets in France. It is frequented mostly by locals on their way home from work. The prices are seriously low and the produce is the best I’ve found anywhere. However, you have to be decisive because it’s sold quickly. The market starts at 6pm and lasts for about an hour and a half.
Isle sur la Sorgue
Make a day of it:
This is really a get in and out type market but I would go to Isle sur la Sorgue or Fontaine de Vaucluse for the day beforehand. Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is where you’ll find the mysterious source of the Sorgue river and a paper mill that presses artisan paper. Isle sur la Sorgue is the antique capital of Southern France where you’ll find dozens of stores and warehouses with all manner of curiosities.
Ashley, founder of Curious Provence
Note: Ashley Tinker is a Canadian fine art photographer that moved to Provence 2.5 years ago with her British Francophile man. A lover of all things food related, she quickly fell in love with Provence (especially the markets!). Ashley and Robin have bought a tiny village house in the beautiful Alpilles region that they’re renovating from top to bottom themselves. On her blog CuriousProvence, Ashley writes about their experiences with the locals, their renovation, recipes, and the best things to see and do in Provence. Follow her on Instagram too.