Visiting Provence: 5 Tips to Make the Most of Provençal Markets
If you really want to experience Provence (and French culture) a visit to a marché provençal is a must. Every village or town has one and you can find culinary specialities from the region and the freshest fruit and vegetables you can imagine (straight from the farm to the markets to us!) French farmers take pride in their produce and are very particular about the way they grow their produce. You will see a myriad of vegetable varieties. like these beautiful tomatoes. Whoever knew there were these many tomato varieties?
It’s not only fruits and vegetables that you can find at the marché, it’s also artisanal products like olive oil, cheese, charcuterie (sausages, cured meats with different flavors and aging processes), homemade cookies and jams, handmade leather products, provencal souvenirs and much more.
Here are some tips to get the most out of the market experience:
1. Taste everything! Have an open mind! (Of course be mindful of dietary restrictions, especially if you have allergies).
2. Bring cash, not all merchants accept credit cards.
3. Check the origin of the items you like before purchasing. It doesn’t suffice that the sign says “France” or “Provence” if you’re looking to buy authentic products made in Provence. Check the bottles and labels!
4. Know before you go: Find out what the rules are about bringing back items to your country. Some items are not allowed, (for example, you can’t bring back saucisson or other cured meats to the US).
5. Bring a camera! But don’t forget to follow some photography etiquette: Don’t take photos of people without asking, and also ask if it is OK to photograph the products.
I never miss the cheese stands, the tapenade (olive spread) and the homemade jams. I recently discovered “Nos Saveur Provençales” which are delicious and based out of L’Isle sur la Sorgue but can be found in different markets.
Have you visited markets in Provence? Share your finds and tips below!