Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday morning at the market in Vaison-la-Romaine

Tuesday mornings you will find us at the weekly outdoor market in the center of Vaison-la-Romaine, a short (6 mile) drive from Sablet along a winding road and across the Ouvèze River. The town is divided by the River into two parts; on the right bank is the ancient Roman colony and modern town and on the left bank is the Medieval town with castle ruins at the highest point which you can see from far away.

The two parts of Vaison-la-Romaine are connected by a single-arched Roman bridge over the Ouvèze river. The bridge was originally erected in 149 BC, and is the oldest surviving Roman bridge. It is still in use after some 2000 years despite taking a hit from a German bomb during WWII and a flash flood from a monsoon storm in September 1992 that killed 32 people.

Roman Bridge in Vaison-la-Romaine

The weekly market is a kaleidoscope of colors and smells of Provence with up to 450 vendors in the summer (pottery, arts and crafts, food stalls of all kinds, local fruits and vegetables, linens, soap, regional specialties, clothing) and spreads out over Place Montfort, the main square in the center of town and nearby streets including Avenue du Général de Gaulle seen below. The market is is an ancient tradition dating all the way back to 1483.

Avenue du Général de Gaulle

One of the best things about owning or renting a house or apartment in Provence, in my opinion, is the chance to cook with some of the amazing produce, seafood, cheese and meats you find at the various weekly markets as you travel around Provence. And let me tell you, the weekly market in Vaison-la-Romaine is one of the biggest and best.

By contrast when you stay in a hotel or similar accommodation, you will walk through the markets, and look, sniff and drool about the possibilities that lie before you on those artfully displayed tables. You will undoubtedly buy a few things for a snack or picnic, but you won't have the enjoyment that comes from a home-cooked meal on your terrace made with ingredients you bought at that's morning market.

Heirloom Tomatoes

We try to get to the market shortly after 8:30 in the morning. Yes, I know it is early to be out and about while you are on vacation. But listen to me, it will be much easier to find parking. By 10:00, it will be difficult to find any parking, let alone a convenient spot close to the market area.

Also, by 10:00, the streets will be crowded with people trying to make their way through the market and it's not so much fun in my opinion. So we get through the market and retire to one of the cafes that line Place Montfort for a petit cafe or cold beverage, hopefully with friends.

We usually park near Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth Cathedral and walk up to the market past the Roman ruins or up Avenue Jules Ferry so I can get cash out of an ATM machine. You need Euros at the market as the vendors don't usually take credit cards. Shirley and I go our separate ways when we get up to the market, Shirley to look for clothes and souvenirs and me to the food aisles, basket in hand.

I rarely go with a shopping list or menu in mind but rather I'm guided by what looks the best that morning. I do a complete walk through the food aisles without buying anything and then make a return trip, stopping to buy from the sellers whose wares had caught my eye. I will admit that after doing this a number of times now, I know pretty much where I am going to buy before we get to the market.

Mounds of Radish

Check out the pictures that follow and see if by the end of this post if you are not thinking about what you would like to prepare for dinner if you had been at the market with me last month. Try to ignore this crowd of locals who are looking quite suspiciously at this guy taking pictures of their olive oil.

Local Olive Oil

Bananas (I'm sure they are not local)

Dry Sausages

An Artful Display of Purple Artichokes

Green and White Asparagus

Assorted Olives and Spreads for Aperitifs

Local Strawberries from Carpentras

A Basket of Eggs

A Pile of Mesclun Greens for Salad

Artisanal Nougat

Haricots Verts, English Peas, and Snow Peas

Locally Made Jams


A variety of Radish or Turnips

Bins of Every Kind of Spice You Can Imagine

A Variety of Beautiful Vegetables

A Basket of Sun Dried Tomatoes

Fresh Fish of Every Kind

Our Friend Bruce Conversing with the Fish Seller 

An Artful Display of Fresh Fruits


Hats of Every Color

Weaved Baskets


Table Linens

Market Baskets of All Colors and Shapes

Shoppers on Avenue du Général de Gaulle

Decorations Around the Entrance to a House near the Roman Ruins

The Path Along the Roman Ruins

A Field of Coquelicots with the Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth in the Background

You have seen a small sample of the offerings from the sellers back in May. I know the market has grown considerably as we head into July. So if you are in the area, I hope you are lodged somewhere where you can take advantage of all the amazing food on sale on Tuesday mornings at the market in Vaison-la-Romaine.

A bientôt friends.


  1. Wow I thought our market was good but think this is even better, Great photos. Hope al is well Diane

    1. Hello Diane. So very nice to hear from you. I hope you are well. Yes, we think our market is pretty special and we find it to be the source of many wonderful meals. Thanks for the kind feedback about the pictures.

  2. I was just in Provence last week. Though we didn't make it to that market, we went to the village of Seguret based on pictures I have seen on your blog. We had a wonderful lunch at Cote Terrasse. It was a beautiful village. We also stopped in Sablet briefly and picked up some wonderful bread at the Medieval Boulangerie before we headed back to our rental in Gordes. I have gotten so many wonderful ideas of things to do based on your pictures in your blog. Can't stop dreaming of Provence.

    1. Hi Cheryl. Thanks for stopping in to check out my blog. I appreciate this very much. So very happy to hear you have gotten some good ideas from my posts. So what is it like to rent a house in Gordes in June? We have been to Gordes in January when it was absolutely empty of people or commercial life. We have also been there in July when it seems you can hardly move about. I hope you will stop in often.

    2. We stayed just outside of Gordes. So it wasn't too busy. We didn't go into Gordes too much. We were in the Luberon the last two weeks of June and noticed that it was very peaceful everywhere until the last week when things started picking up and we could hardly get a reservation for restaurants. We also stayed in a rental at the foot of Oppede-le-Vieux our first week. It was very quiet and peaceful. We couldn't believe that we were able to see a lot of lavender even in June.

  3. Normally at this time of year, my husband and I are in a little town outside of Uzès, where we spend the summer months. This year we decided to stay home, and now I am feeling quite homesick! Thank you for the beautiful photos of the market, it makes my mouth water! We eat out rarely when we are in France, mostly because I buy so much at the markets! Who can resist? And the bananas made me laugh...they look like they are from Martinique..at least in Francethey tell you where the food comes from! (down to the town, in some cases!) Our House of Representatives just voted to remove "country of origin labeling" on chicken pork, and beef sold in the US. I can't imagine why.

  4. Rebecca - I can conjecture why..... but that is another story.
    Michel, your pictures of the market made my heart sing.. oh
    those purple artichokes... and all else..food for the soul.. Many thanks.