Markets in French Provence

Markets in French Province
By Tatyana Kogut

Provence. Saint-Tropez.

Saint-Tropez has 12 markets: fruit, honey, flower, fish markets and Place des Lices – the region’s most popular street market. Two steps from the coast, under the plane-tree, old people usually play petanque. But on Tuesdays and Saturdays this place is occupied with long rows of counters. They sell traditional Provence fabrics. This is a parti-coloured cotton textile with a traditional pattern depicting olive branches and sunflowers, produced in Provence since the 17th century. Newly-produced fabrics can be bought at any boutique. But if you are at the market, look for something special. For instance, old local napery or typically French furniture, like puffs and sociable, upholstered with beautiful cotton fabric, Toile de jouy. The fabrics are often adorned with pink or blue patterns, depicting shepherds and shepherdesses in the white background. The other hit of local trade is multicoloured ceramics brought from the neighbouring Aubagne, where Pablo Picasso himself used to work. Clay dishes and jugs have the same patterns as local fabrics.

During the market day Place des Lices is filled with people even at dinner time. That is why the city’s best restaurant, La table du marché found next to the market, has a strategic location.

Périgord Noir. Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat is famous for its well-preserved medieval and renaissance buildings. Make a separate trip to Domme bulwark city and a tiny village called Martel. But there is another thing why you should make a stop at Sarlat – its market, the most important in the whole Perigord. At the market they sell goose liver and all the things produced of it – from spicy pate to simple tinned stew with pink garlic. They also sell truffles. Twice a week, but mainly on Saturday, the market fills Place De La Liberte and adjoining streets. A walk around the market will take approximately 4 hours. During the height of the season – from the end of April till the end of September – lots of farmers and culinary tourists from all over the world come to Sarlat. The latter enjoy numerous culinary traps placed all around the city. Of course, the main attraction is cheese, particularly the renowned Cantal (usually sold €30 to €50 per kilo). Truffles are sold at €1000-1200 per kilo (one truffle can cost €20 to €50). But fresh mushrooms spoil quickly, so if you want to take them with you, buy cheaper pre-prepared truffles – the best of them are sold at Truffes de Périgord store at Place De La Liberte.

Bourgogne. Dijon.

Markets of Dijon are concentrated in the old town and adjoin most of its attractions which are a real must for every tourist (like the Notre-Dame and its stone owl). Those are mainly gastronomic markets where one can buy traditional Dijon mustard, spice-cakes, blackcurrant-flavored liqueur Crème de cassis. But the main market does not sell food only. In the midst of the pedestrian area, on Place Grangier there is a second-hand market, a Brocante opened on weekends 7 am – midday. Look for various antiques, furniture, toys, lamps, books, old pots and pans and carpets. If you are lucky, you will find Savonnerie – this is how the first French carpets were called (starting from the 17th century they were brought from Persia). The carpets are known for their posh Baroque pattern. The older the carpet, the higher the price. Not only local sellers, but experienced commissioners bring their goods to this market. Prices are lower than the ones in salons and there is a chance you will find some rarities.

Hotels in Saint Tropez – Saint Tropez hotel reservation.
Dijon hotels – Dijon hotel reservation.

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Written by J. Lee

A seasoned world traveller, J. Lee writes about his weekend trips away, travel for work, and his many Europe vacations.

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