If you don't know, Vaison-la-Romaine is a quick 6 mile trip down a winding road and across the Ouvèze River. Vaison-la-Romaine is divided by the Ouvèze River into two parts; on the right bank is the ancient Roman colony and modern town and on the left bank is the old medieval town with the Castle of the Counts of Toulouse at the highest point, which can be seen from afar.
Upon arriving in Vaison, we head for our favorite parking spot near Notre Dame de Nazareth Cathedral. This cathedral was built on the ruins of a Roman temple, the remains of which can be seen outside the chevet. More than one church has existed on this site; a 6th-century basilica was destroyed by Frankish invaders. The present building dates primarily from the 11th and 12th centuries.
The weekly market is a rainbow 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 and Cours Taulignan. The market is an ancient tradition dating back to 1483.
One of the best things about owning or renting a house in Provence, in my opinion, is the chance to cook some freshly picked produce, just caught 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 artfully displayed tables. You will undoubtedly buy a few things for a snack or picnic, but you will miss out on a home-cooked meal on your terrace made with ingredients you bought at that's morning market.
Check out the pictures that follow and by the end of this post, I am sure you will be fantasizing about what you would make if you had been shopping at the market with us back in early October.
|Strings of garlic|
|Last of the tomatoes from Provence|
Below are Girolles mushrooms which look exactly like Chanterelles to me. I am not sure what is the difference, maybe one of you will tell me.
|Cepes (porcini) mushrooms|
I had every intention of roasting some of the fresh chestnuts below and making a cream of Chestnut soup. Unfortunately, we never got around to it. So I will have to wait till next fall to get another chance with fresh chestnuts.
Our favorite poissonnier is Edmond Lafont of Maree du Comtat Venaison.
|Wide selection of fresh fish from Monsieur Lafont|
|Fish from the fish monger across the street|
|Wide variety of shellfish|
|Dry sausages of all kinds|
|White onions, shallots and potatoes|
|Mobile butcher shop|
|Wide assortment of olives|
|Serving platters made of olive wood|
As I said, we try to get to the market early, usually 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 places to park, let alone convenient ones like our spot near the cathedral.
Also, by 10:00, the streets will be crowded with locals and tourists wandering through the market, making purchases, browsing, visiting with friends and taking pictures (like me) and it's not so much fun in my opinion. So we go through the market and retire to one of the cafés that line Place Montfort for a petit café, chocolat chaud or cold beverage, usually with one or more friends.
|Where you will find us taking a café break|
|Variety of woven market baskets. You will need one or more to carry your purchases|
|Linens from Provence|
|Roasted chicken to go|
Before we leave Vaison and head back to Sablet, we always stop by Lou Canesteou: Fromagerie Cremerie, the fantastic cheese shop owned by Josiane Deal who was crowned Meilleur Ouvrier de France Fromager, which translates to one of the best in her field, in 2004.
If you are a cheese lover, make sure you check out her website which is linked above and see the section entitled "notre carte interactive des fromages." There is a very cool interactive map of France with an outline of every Department. Click on a Department and you can see which cheeses are produced in the region and a little description about the cheese.
|Interior of Lou Canesteou: Fromagerie Cremerie|
On the way back to Sablet, we came upon this wild boar (sanglier) and a companion grazing in this field adjacent to a large vineyard. Sangliers cause a lot of damage to gardens and vineyards because they love eating ripe grapes.
The season for hunting sangliers begins around the same time as grapes begin to reach full maturity in Provence. The number of sangliers has exploded all over France in recent years, despite hunting with current estimates at more than 2 million. Sangliers have reportedly even invaded Marseille.
Sanglier is used to make Saucisson de Sanglier, Daube de Sanglier, and Terrines de Sanglier among other things and you will find it in products at several market vendors.
|Sanglier (wild boar)|
I think the best way to end this post is to say Bon Appétit and Happy Cooking. Have a great week.