farmers markets in provence

by Sharon Santoni

Tomatoes for sale- Farmers markets- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

In France everyone knows that good food starts with the best ingredients.    And the best ingredients are not found in a supermarket where products are stored in coolers, or wrapped in cellophane.   The best ingredients are sold by the people who grow them, on a busy farmers market;   or sometimes in the shade of a tree on a quiet village street.

Farmers markets- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

I learned how to buy food (and how to cook as well) when I came to France.   I was instinctively drawn to the busy colourful farmers markets, and quickly understood that here I was not only going to find my food but also a new layer of my education.     When I was a student, I used to buy from a cheese monger at my local market who decided he was going to educate me.  Throughout the year he would advise me on which cheeses to buy, tell me where they came from and how to recognise a good cheese from a lesser quality product.

Farmers markets- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

My education continued with my husband, who taught me that you never go to the market with a list.  You go to discover what is available to buy, and then you decide what to eat.    Today we go to specific markets or vendors for our favourite products and only eat food that is in season locally.

Farmers markets- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

In the South of France at the moment, there are a lot of tourists in the region, and the markets can get pretty hectic, but if you know where to go then the quality if still there.   The bigger markets combine food with baskets, hats and even clothes or household textiles, and the whole experience is fun and lively.

Farmers markets- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

When I need something a little quieter I like to find the individual producer who sets up a stand in a quiet village, and who is the local best kept secret.    A few tomatoes and onions picked from the fields the evening before.   Some potatoes, a selection of aubergines and peppers.     A great deal of discussion about how to keep the basil fresh, or which is the best flavour olive oil to accompany the tomatoes and clients leave with full baskets and broad smiles.  There are no specific opening times, just arrive early and when everything is sold the pack up the table and drive home.

Farmers markets- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

Added to the pleasure of knowing that you have bought good food, is the whole experience of chatting with other buyers, and then maybe wandering down a street to sit down for a coffee on the village square before returning home.     It’s all about taking the time to enjoy the little things and remembering that luxury is not always about money.

26 comments

Judy August 10, 2018 - 4:18 pm

Loved this post! The village markets are always a highlight when we travel to Provence! In fact, the lady in the last photo looks very familiar!

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Elizabeth August 10, 2018 - 4:27 pm

I like this ~ going to the curb market and deciding what to cook while looking over their produce. I need a straw basket like in your picture! Where is the best online store to buy those? THANKS!

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Marty Melton August 10, 2018 - 10:00 pm

I want one of those baskets (or maybe 10) also ! I hope someone has a US source.

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Kathryn August 11, 2018 - 12:27 am

Vivietmargot.com sells these baskets in the US. Also Dreamywhiteslifestyle.com has some from,time to time

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Molly @ MFCH August 14, 2018 - 3:29 pm

Food52! They have some great French baskets right now 🙂

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Trish August 11, 2018 - 5:04 am

Frenchbaskets on Etsy. There is probably others on Etsy too.

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Carolyn August 10, 2018 - 4:29 pm

We went to the market in Gordes in early June this year. What a delight it was,.bought a few “goodies” to bring home with us.

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Chris Roberts August 10, 2018 - 4:37 pm

I love to go to the farmers market . It is hard not to over buy . The produce is so beautiful
Sure would love to go to yours one day .

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Taste of France August 10, 2018 - 4:46 pm

Those heirloom tomatoes look delicious. I bet they are all flesh, not like supermarket tomatoes that are shells with seeds.
Fellow shoppers will sometimes offer recipe ideas. One tomato vendor bragged about how solid his heirloom tomatoes are, advising me to cut them in half and place them on the grill–nothing will fall out. “Like a steak,” he said. And it was true. A new summer favorite.
Another option, if one has missed the market, is to find a rond-point or roundabout where local farmers park a truck and sell from a table in the shade of an umbrella on the side of the road. However, in Carcassonne the market in the central square is fun not only for buying groceries but also for having a drink at one of the terrace cafés that surround the square. Perfect for people-watching.
Our little village grocery gets produce from local gardens–cherries in May, now tomatoes….

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darby callahan August 10, 2018 - 4:47 pm

I am not going to France this year(sigh). however, your post has inspired me to make a trip to a local farm stand where I will purchase the ingredients for a ratatouille.

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Sunflower August 10, 2018 - 5:23 pm

I’m in Provence at the moment Sharon and left the market this morning with the usual delightful salad ingredients and the most juiciest and biggest peaches ever! Add a handful of figs, some local goat’s cheese, some fresh salmon and a couple of bottles of rose from the local vineyard and we have our evening meal sorted! Not forgetting some lavender oil and a linen dress to take home! Wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world!

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Marianna Chryst August 10, 2018 - 6:26 pm

Been there several times . I just came from my garden. Although beautiful ,it doesn’t have the air Dr provence.!!!!wanting to return soon .–

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Pamela August 10, 2018 - 6:32 pm

My favourite food markets in the South are in St Remy, Lourmarin and Arles. Fabulous produce in season – the cherries, the flat peaches, Cavaillon melons, tomatoes, etc. In the Dordogne, the amazing market at Sarlat and the small looker one in Monpazier. Interesting to try the different regional cheeses at a range of markets too. Best wishes, Pamela

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Francesca Pera August 10, 2018 - 6:45 pm

I love everything of Provence, from its lavender fields to its farmers markets. You gave us an authentic picture of French living. I look forward to planning a trip in the next future!

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Gitte Shoemaker August 10, 2018 - 7:06 pm

My husband and I will be travelling to Aix en Provence in September. I can’t wait to see the markets there. We are also planning a trip to Arles to see the market – supposedly the biggest in Provence? Last time we were in Paris, I was blown away by the local market in Neiully Sur Seine – the seafood, produce, cheeses and meats were out of this world!! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures!

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Mary from Life at Bella Terra August 10, 2018 - 8:49 pm

Sharon,

For my sister’s 60th birthday, I sent your August French box. She just received it and I wish I was there to see all the items she raved about (she lives 3,000 miles away). She was so impressed with the presentation, the quality and selection of items. Thank you for making her birthday extra special…..and making me look like a great big sister!

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Susan August 10, 2018 - 9:18 pm

Ooohhh, to be able to shop your favorite markets…….

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Ann Pauley August 10, 2018 - 11:19 pm

You can buy those baskets at the L’occitane
Store in the states,
Ann

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Dawn Johnson August 11, 2018 - 1:25 am

Headed to Cotignac with my best friend in September for our 60th birthdays. My favorite markets in Provence are there, Lourmarin, Lorgues and Aix. Really they’re all pretty amazing. I bought my last market basket there in Cotignac three years ago for about 15 euros. I got one a year earlier on Amazon. You can’t have too many, they’re great for storing things on the floor or going to the beach etc. Thank you for the lovely pictures, I cannot wait.

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Ros short August 11, 2018 - 3:52 am

Where are these markets Sharon in Normandy ? The busy ones , the quiet ones ,the ones that sell hats,clothes etc .Could spend weeks driving around ,loving these villages in Normandy Ros

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Ruth August 11, 2018 - 4:34 am

Sharon,
Received your August box today!!!
So excited to open it, as I gave one to my daughter and she had already opened hers. She called me with her apron on and loved everything!! I love everything!
Your recipe book is so wonderful, the copper, tea cloth, mixing bowl…….. So nice to receive a sample of France for my French kitchen!
Thank you so much – you and your team did a fantastic job

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Trish August 11, 2018 - 5:18 am

I have wonderful memories of the markets in Uzès, Beausoleil, Aix-en-Provence and Cours Selaya in Nice. I hope to be back soon.

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gmail login August 11, 2018 - 10:46 am

I have wonderful memories of the markets in Uzès, Beausoleil, Aix-en-Provence and Cours Selaya in Nice. I hope to be back soon.

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Colleen Taylor August 12, 2018 - 2:02 am

I love farmer’s markets and go to them every chance I can get. Nothing like fresh food from the farmer’s fields. I love the support them and their hard work, I few up on a farm so I know very well. We have an abundance of them in my corner of the world. Love this post Sharon! X

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Vicky (from Athens) August 12, 2018 - 1:13 pm

Sharon, I am so enjoying everything in the August French Box! I will use each item in it over and over. Having my own personal little recipe booklet from your kitchen and matching recipe cards is such a special and personal touch. It makes me feel as though I’ve been invited into your kitchen. Thanks for all the time, talent and thought you put in to making each box so very special!

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market produce - behind the scenes - MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME September 3, 2019 - 5:18 pm

[…] in France we shop in local markets all year around, but buying in the south brings its own particular pleasures.  The warmth, the light, the accents and the local peaches, […]

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