Sunday, May 4, 2014

Les Marchés of Vaison la Romaine

Add to Google Reader or HomepageI love to go to the markets in Vaison. We are fortunate to have two: the big, Pope-stipulated (in 1532) Tuesday market and the little market of local producers on Saturdays.

The Tuesday market is both a social and a shopping event. In addition to being able to buy everything needed for the cuisine (and the house), you run into friends and acquaintances and get to catch up on local news. Often, at the end of the shopping, you see residents and tourists sitting at the cafés having a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoying the community/social aspects of the day.

On Tuesdays, you can purchase vegetables and fruit from 20 vendors and meat from about 10 or so trucks – not including the dried sausage vendors who account for another five or six stalls. There are usually four fish mongers offering everything from albacore to sea urchins; seven or eight olives and olive oil, dried fruit and nuts vendors and an equal amount of cheese vendors. (Some cheese vendors offer the full array of French cheeses, some offer cheese from only a certain region such as the Jura and some offer only their home-made goat cheeses.) There are several honey vendors offering locally produced honeys and preserves.

Tuesday market - one of the 'Spice' trucks
If you are hungry while shopping, you can choose from pizza trucks, roast chicken trucks, paella stands, fried rice and egg roll stands, nougat stands, sugared fruit stands or a full-line bakery. Many of the vendors offer organic options. If you need a tablecloth or napkins or runners or flatware or pottery or cooking utensils or high-quality knives, you will find them at the Tuesday market. You can buy shoes, scarves, belts, socks, gloves, hats, clothing (both new and used items), thread to repair clothing, sewing machines to make clothing… If you prefer, there are live plants – pots of both ornamentals and vegetable starts including olive trees.

I needed a new gasket for my espresso maker. I found it at the market on Tuesday. Books – new or used? Tuesday market. Music – new and used? Tuesday market. Soap or perfume? Curtains? Artwork? – you guessed it: Tuesday market.

The Tuesday market offers an amazing array of – everything. We have big box stores in the States many of which would be hard pressed to offer the array of items one finds on Tuesdays in Vaison la Romaine.

(The locals like to shop at the market in the spring and fall but often avoid the market in the summer as there are so many people there that it becomes difficult to walk from one stall to another. But then, the population of Vaison does double in the summer.)

The Saturday market, by contrast, is the ‘locavore’ market. In the fall/winter/spring, there are about a dozen stalls offering locally grown vegetables and fruits, poultry and eggs, honey and jams, olive oil, olives and tapenades and, in January and February, truffles. A fish monger parks his truck at the end of the parking lot. (The market doubles in size in the summer but still offers only locally grown or produced items.)

1 comment:

  1. My most favorite thing to buy at the Tuesday market is the soaps - nearly 100 varieties of different soaps from Marseilles. My next favorite thing to buy at the Tuesday market is the tablecloths and napkins. The array of colors is spectacular and the design choices are endless. Great gift shopping all around.