We drove to St-Remy-de-Provence, 20 km from Avignon, bright and early to make sure we missed nothing of the famous St. Remy Market. After parking on the edge of town, we followed the fast-paced, empty-basket toting crowds, to centre ville, while taking in the colors and fragrances of this wonderful Provencal tradition.
We passed olive sellers, each sporting at least a dozen varieties of olives, a young man preparing a fresh, sugar coated almond candy and several stalls selling various types of artisan cheese. That was just the beginning.
Provencal Markets are a feast for the senses; everything looks, smells and tastes, well…scrumptious. My nose led me toward the fellow who was cooking up some plump, herb-crusted, grilled chicken and sausage stuffed tomatoes. If I hadn’t just had breakfast, I’d have been a happy customer.
But, aside from the great food and produce, you can also snag great bargains on finely woven, colorful tablecloths, dresses, baskets of all sizes and shapes, and -my favorite – Provence style coverlets. But, I just couldn’t figure out how I could stuff a Queen-sized bedspread into my carry-on luggage!
Many markets in Provence, or in all of France for that matter, serve as outlets for serious craftspeople. We saw beautifully carved bowls and utensils made from olive wood, handcrafted furniture that I would love to have in my home, various beauty products made from local ingredients, and whimsical jewelry.
St. Remy de Provence is a very attractive Gallo-Roman town with winding streets and vestiges of its Roman past. It is known for its fabrics (tissus) and has a good number of artisan shops to discover. It is one of my favorite towns of Provence.
Vincent van Gogh painted his masterpiece Starry Night and a self-portrait while confined to the Asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole located near Saint-Rémy.
The St Remy market, held every Wednesday, is quite large and takes over several side streets as well as the main square, so you could spend hours taking in the scene. We chose to sit down and savor a cup of cappuccino while resting our market-weary feet before we headed on to Glanum, located just a kilometer or two outside of town.
Written by Terri Fogarty and photos by Bill Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com