Markets in Provence
Markets are a part of the life of the villages and towns. They are picturesque, full of life and movement, and a place to see and meet interesting people. Village markets are excellent for a variety of items you won't find in normal shops, as well as for good prices, if you are a careful shopper. Our photo-1 shows just a part of the weekly market at Fayence.
Most villages have a daily produce market where local suppliers, from individuals with tiny plots to larger professional farmers, sell fresh vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat, bread, olives and other local specialities. This photo-2 shows a selection of Provencal olives, and photo-3 shows the black olives.
Other markets usually appear in a particular village or town on one specific day of the week. The market sellers are completely mobile. Traveling in trucks, vans, and sometimes just a station wagon, they travel from village to village, following the schedule of markets in the area. This photo-4 shows the Provencal cloth seller at Le Lavandou.
On market day, you'll find clothes, tools, books, records, antiques, junk, treasure, art and things you would never imagine. The basic, most-common market has clothes, both new and pre-owned. This is a good alternative to the small shops with their limited selections in the small towns and villages, and the market prices can be very good bargains. Larger markets will have more of the "non-essentials", such as antiques, furniture and art. This is photo-5 is of olive-wood items at Le Lavandou.
Types of Markets
Here are the main categories of markets. There are, however, variations in the names as well as mixtures of different types of markets (such as a Foire antiquités brocante).
The standard market is mainly for food. But then it's very good food. The markets are attended by the people who make the food, grow it, catch it, cure it, bake it, bottle it or otherwise have a passion for it. Cheeses and dairy products are fresh. There are meats and poultry and an endless variety of sausages. Olives and honey are locally produced. Vegetables are from the local gardens, and herbs and spices are both exotic and local. Lunch choices in the market are cheaper and more varied than the resturants, and it can be more fun, shopping for it as well as eating it. Try some fresh olive bread or walnut bread.
This is the clothing market, with mainly new clothes, and usually at bargain prices.
Brocante (Flea Market)
Also called Foire à la Brocante. The brocante is where you look for old things, interesting things, and things you don't need. Items here might be junk someone is effectively throwing out, or the treasures discovered in the attic of a hundred-year-old house. There can be furniture or collectionables offered by experts, or individuals selling personal items for a few francs.
Antiquités (Antique Market)
Also called Salons des Antiquaires and Salon Antiquités Brocante. This type of market specializes in antiques and old furniture.
- Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes) has an annual Antique market (April), with many top-level antiquaires.
- L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Vaucluse) is the home of Le Quai de la Gare, a group of 30 antique shops in one location, open on weekends and holidays. The town also has an antique market on Sundays.
Artisanat (Arts and Crafts)