Monday, December 30, 2013

We visit the market in Nyons on our day trip through the Drôme Provençale

I think I have mentioned that we don't spend much time vegging out at home in Sablet. We are usually off visiting family, tasting wine, touring friends or exploring new corners of the region, usually with a leisurely Provençal lunch in the middle of the day.

One day a few months back, we headed off to explore the nearby Drôme Provençale. Being it was Thursday morning, our first stop would be Nyons (28 kms) so we could wander around the bustling Provençal market that takes place in the center of town every Thursday morning throughout the year.

Nyons sits in a natural basin on the right bank of the Eygues river, surrounded by hills and small mountains, which provides shelter from wind. The town gets an unusual amount of sunshine, earning Nyons the nickname "Little Nice" for its great climate.

When we get close to town, we see the Randonne Tower headed by pyramid arches on which stands a statue of Virgin Mary. The tower was erected around 1280, and at the time was used as a keep and military prison for the castle. In the 19th century it was converted to a chapel and renamed "Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours".

Nyons with Randonne Tower at the highest point

Probably the most famous historical monument in Nyons, is the "Roman Bridge," a single arch bridge across the Eygues river built in Romanesque style between 1341 and 1409. Until the 19th century, the bridge was the main access road into Nyons.

The Roman bridge over the Eygues river

The Olive tree in the roundabout in the center of town is a reminder that olives are celebrated in Nyons year-around with the Festival of Pitted Olives the weekend before Christmas, the Festival of New Olive Oil, the first Sunday in February, and Fête des Olivades, the weekend which follows Bastille Day.

The roundabout in the center of Nyons

In 1994, Nyons became the first region in France to be awarded its own appellation or AOC, for olives and oil, similar to that of wine regions. The rules of the AOC dictate what can be called Nyons olives or oil. For example, oils in this AOC must contain at least 95% of a variety of olives called Tanche.

Market stalls set up around the war memorial

We walk through the Saint Jacques gate, the only gate intact from the medieval defensive walls, to "Place des Arcades" and "Place de la Liberation" where the market is underway. "Place des Arcades" dates from the 14th century when it was set aside for markets and fairs in Nyons. The square gets its name from the arcades that surround the square.

Shops and cafés line "Place des Arcades"

Here are a few of the sights that caught my eye as we walked around Nyons that morning.

Street musicians perform on market day

Saint Vincent's Church with Saint-Césaire monastery and two nearby cemeteries formed the religious center of Nyons in the Middle Ages. Most of the modern-day building dates from the beginning of the 17th century.

The bell tower of Saint Vincent Church

Narrow street in historic center of Nyons

Brightly colored shopping baskets for sale on market day

The bell tower of Saint Vincent Church

Fruit and vegetable stand

The Roman Bridge

The bell tower of Saint Vincent Church peaks above the roofs of Nyons

Cafés line the arcades

Vendors set up under the plane trees on market day

Nyons fountain

As usual, we couldn't make it through a market without buying something such as linens, soaps, pottery, artwork, or something tasty to eat. Since it was getting close to noon and time for déjeuner (lunch), we headed for the car and to our next stop at La Charrette Bleue which I will tell you about in my next post.

Have a great day. A bientôt. See you soon.


  1. I like the Nyons market as well. It seems easier to get around be it from fewer people or better space management. Either way it is fun. We were talking with friends last evening and someone mentioned La Charrette Bleue. I await your next post.

  2. The more I see of France the more I love it. Beautiful photos. Happy New Year to you both Diane

  3. Sullivans - Happy New Year. Maybe we will be lucky and cross paths this year in Vaison la Romaine. I am working on my post about La Charrette Bleue, so stay tuned.

    Diane - Thank you Diane. Happy New Year to you too. I wish you all the best.

  4. Wow, that bridge is impressive! And I love the photo of the café tables lined up in the arcade - it looks so cool and tranquil on what appears to be a sunny, warm day. It's a welcome mental vacation from the gray outside today. :)

  5. Wow, the pictures bring back wonderful memories. I remember Nyons very well. Sad only about I don't know anymore which wine I drank there.