Saturday, April 28, 2012

Market Day in Vaison-la-Romaine

When we reach the end of the Quartier de La Villasse Roman ruins (see previous post), we arrive at the market. In an interesting juxtaposition, we can look over the Roman ruins and also have a great view of the castle at the top of the Medieval village on the left bank of the Ouvèze River.

Around 1180, the men of the Count of Toulouse built a wooden tower strengthened by palissages (trellises) on the top of this hill to impose the image of the Count’s power on the citizenry. This was pulled down on the bishop’s order and replaced in 1193-1195 by this stone keep castle. Later, two buildings were added. The castle was modified along the centuries.

We always enter the market by La Poste (the post office) where there is a display of pottery of all kinds and colors from La Poterie de Crestet. On that Tuesday morning back in March, I asked the vendor where his pottery was fabricated. I expected him to tell me it was made in Crestet, a small village east of Vaison, and to my surprise he responded "Espagne" (Spain). He continued on to say you can't sell pottery made in Provence for these low prices.

We love going to the weekly markets for many reasons, not the least of which, the produce on display inspire me to cook dishes which utilize the most seasonal ingredients. Here there is display with a large quantity of fresh garlic and radishes. You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge them.

A vendor with his tapenades.

A big pile of local green and white asparagus.

Purple artichokes

Several butchers come to the market every week and display their cuts of meats and charcuterie.

The first strawberries of the season from Carpentras.

A tasty assortment of cookies. We have to have cookies on hand when grandson Dylan comes to visit as he expects to find cookies at Papa's house. He is strictly limited on his cookie intake at home. Yes I know, I am spoiling him.

A table with a big pile of fresh roquette (arugula) and other greens for salads.

Dried fruits of all kinds.

An assortment of different kinds of olives. There are also seasoned olives perfect for enjoying with aperitifs.

You can buy fresh ravioli.

Rice, grains and dried beans of all varieties.

Ingredients for making tea.

Jams and jellies of all kind.

Several cheese vendors set up their shop at the market every week. Full disclosure, I don't buy from any of them since I am partial to the cheese that Josiane Deal sells at Lou Canesteou just a few steps away on Rue Raspail off Place Montfort, the town's main square.

You can buy spit-roasted chicken and potatoes roasted in the fat drippings to go.

Another butcher.

Jambon (ham) de Sanglier (wild boar).

Our favorite fish vendor. Guy also comes to Sablet on Thursday morning. Last summer he came to the Friday morning market in Sablet but he says he is not doing that market this year.

The other end of the large Lafond truck. They have an amazing assortment of fresh fish and shell fish.

Early in the day and season so the crowd is not wall to wall like it will be later in the day and certainly not like it will be this summer.

A vendor selling an assortment of foie gras preparations. My guess is that this is a display never seen in the US and will for sure not be seen in California after July 1 when the production and sale of foie gras is outlawed.

There are numerous sellers of saucissons, dry sausages.

Of course, there are many sellers of souvenirs including these towels.

One of the many sellers of tablecloths.

Soaps from Provence.

They even sell soap made from donkey's milk.

We always finish up market day with coffees at the newly renovated Festival Cafe on Place Montfort; many times with good friends like Barbara from Cuisine de Provence, a wonderful cook who offers classes at her home in Vaison-la-Romaine or with Bruce and Christine who live in nearby Villedieu.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the market. Happy cooking and à tres bientôt.


  1. I thought that our market here was good but it is not a patch on yours. I would come home broke I think if I was there. You have much better vegetables than we have, I have never seen rocket here. I grow it, but the beetles like it and by the time I go to pick it it looks like lace!! Have a great Sunday. Diane

  2. Michel you must have been very early to have Cours Taulignan deserted like this - and your photos show all my favorite stalls!

  3. Michel, a very nice write-up ... brings back fond memories of sharing a morning with you and Shirley at the market.

  4. French markets are fabulous and I enjoyed traveling vicariously through your photos. Thanks for visiting my site and leaving so many tips for zinfandel. I'll definitely have to 'branch out'. But I can think of worse things to do than a zin tasting.

  5. I never tire of the markets here! And I can never walk by the roast chickens without buying one, the smell gets me every time!

  6. Diane - I don't want to brag but I do think the Vaison market is one of the best in Provence. We love roquette too and make salads frequently at home and at our Bistro Des Copains.

    Barbara - Like you, we love the Vaison market and I try to get there as early as I can so we avoid the big crowds later in the morning.

    Bob and Lynn - Thanks for checking in and leaving a comment. I am glad to know you are keeping tabs on me. We have lots of good memories of our time in Sablet when you were there.

    Writingfeemail - Thanks for checking in and leaving a comment. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of great wineries, both in the South of France and in Northern California. We have quite a few zinfandels on our wine list at the Bistro and they are personal favorites so we are always on the look out for good ones.

    Sara - I am with you on the markets. If not at the top of my list, close to the top of the list of reasons I love Provence.

  7. to explore other markets and fairs in France I suggest this site

  8. Ohh, I love posts about the markets, and this one is particularly lovely - you really captured the spirit of market day and I appreciate all of the photos... helps bring the whole post alive. Surprisingly, it looks like Vaison-la-Romaine offers some items that we can't find in our area... I'm dying to shop for some of those ceramics and to buy some tablecloths, the quality looks very good.

  9. flaner bouger - Thank you so much for checking out my blog and leaving a comment.

    Tuula - I love markets! The Vaison market is a very good one with a wide array of high quality items.

    Megan - Definitely! My pictures don't come close to showing all the vendors and items they sell at the market.