A visit to Provence without checking out a market is, quite simply, incomplete. If you’re planning on spending time in this region of southeastern France, you’ll want to make sure you check out at least one or two markets. Different towns host different markets on different days, so you can play around with your itinerary to make sure you hit a few throughout your travels.
On market day, the town is completely taken over by booths and stands manned by local artists, farmers, butchers, and other vendors. Crowds gather, both locals and visitors alike, to collect fresh food, exquisite textiles, one-of-a-kind home décor objects, souvenirs, clothing—you name it, it’s there. Here are six very different markets in the region that are not to be missed.
On Tuesday, Visit Gordes
Roughly 45 minutes east of Avignon (a city infamous for its bridge, among other things), there lies a small commune known as Gordes. Though the permanent population caps out at just over 2,100 residents, the town is a popular, high-end tourist town.
Though you’ll pay a little more at the market in Gordes, you’ll be getting very good quality items, from colorful Provençal-style tablecloths to handmade pottery. You’ll want to take a few laps before settling on your favorite items.
On Wednesday, Visit Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Birthplace of Nostradamus and place of inspiration to Vincent van Gogh, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence sits just north of the Alpilles mountain range. The market takes over the town square every Wednesday, with art, clothes and items for the home on one side and food-related items on the other.
As with all markets, don’t be afraid to ask for a little sample if you’re picking up some of the region’s delicacies, like olives or cheese.
On Thursday, Visit Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence, or just “Aix”, is a larger city (pop. 142,700) that hosts a large market every Thursday, spilling into the cities nooks and crannies. In addition to the usual fare, you’ll find a spectacular display of the brightest flowers you’ve ever seen.
Try to take a large shopping bag or basket with you on your excursion to save yourself the trouble of trying to manage several small bags at once– you’ll be less likely to accidentally drop or lose one your finds.
On Friday, Visit Bonnieux
Bonnieux is a small hill village– meaning that the town is actually built onto a hill– with a population just shy of 1,500. Though the market is on the smaller side, part of the fun is watching vendors carry their fare up the narrow street, which is too small to accommodate their trucks. Don’t even attempt to drive up it yourself!
When checking out the local markets, it’s a good idea to carry cash—small change is ideal. Few vendors accept credit cards, so save yourself the trouble.
On Saturday, Visit Uzès
If you’re looking for a well0-rounded quintessential Provençal market, head to Uzès on a Saturday morning. Most markets get started quite early, with vendors setting up around 8:30 AM and crowds out in full forces well before 11. Things wrap up around lunch time, but if you wait too long, you might miss out!
The market in Uzès will have your head spinning with all the food, craft and pottery stands. Save room to grab lunch in town, giving you a chance to rest your feet while playing show-and-tell with your newly acquired treasures.
On Sunday, Visit L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
The weekly antique market on L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is, in short, an unforgettable experience. This riverside town has hosted its market on Sundays dating back to 1596, and you’re bound to find something totally unique among the stands and 300+ antique shops.
Be sure to mind your manners, making efforts to communicate politely (even if your French could use a little practice). A little merci can go a long way. Also, avoid handling food—some vendors aren’t too fond of this.
A special thank you to Helene Buisson of O France for help in narrowing down the hundreds of spectacular markets offered throughout the region.