The quality of the produce is impressive here in Provence. However, all produce is not created equal. The first year I was here, I grew many of my own vegetables. I later wondered why I went through all that trouble. There are some producer’s markets where farmers sell their pickings from that very morning. How can you tell? All I can say is that after 2.5 years here, I can easily tell which veggies are exceedingly versus very fresh.
I go to these three markets when I want to make sure I’m getting the best quality for the best prices direct from the farmers. Also, may I point out that these products are cheaper as well as better quality. Many of the stands at farmer’s markets (including cheese and meat) specialize in one product. Here are three of the best markets in Provence.
These markets start earlier than other markets. They will be set up 8 am and most likely finish by 11:30 am.
What you’ll find at a Marché du Producteur (Farmer’s market):
Veggies, fruits, cheeses from small producers, juices, meats, live animals, plants/flowers, honey, olive oil, homemade jams, homemade soups (depending on the season).
Sénas – Saturday
This market occurs various times a week but is biggest on Saturday. It’s so seasonal that I can see from one week to the next when rose garlic morphs into purple garlic or how the varieties of potatoes change. It’s my favorite.
Make a day of it:
After the market head towards Aureille where you’ll see stunning views of the Alpilles. Tour one, or a couple of the excellent organic AOC Vineyards of Les Baux and have lunch in either Maussane-les-Alpilles, Paradou or Saint Remy de Provence. You can also tour the village mill in either Mouriès or Maussane; this is where the most, and the best, olive oil is produced in France.
Coustellet – Sunday
This is a large market that consists of two parts. The village of Coustellet is divided by a main road that allows for traffic to pass to the picturesque Luberon from Avignon. On one side of this road you’ll find a Provencal style market, and on the other you’ll find a fantastic farmer’s market that consists of mostly organic produce.
Make a day of it:
- Head to nearby Goult after the market where you’ll find a couple lovely restaurants off the main square. You can wander the calm colorful streets and peruse the artist’s workshops.
- Head to Oppede Le Vieux with a picnic. This hilltop town and castle that dates back to the 12th century is mostly deserted as the residents moved down the mountain to be closer to their fields throughout the centuries. It is great for wandering around the abandoned houses and sipping a glass of rosé in the main, and only, village square.
Velleron – Daily except Sunday
The only night market on the list, Velleron is considered one of the best markets in France. It is frequented mostly by locals on their way home from work. The prices are seriously low and the produce is the best I’ve found anywhere. However, you have to be decisive because it’s sold quickly. The market starts at 6pm and lasts for about an hour and a half.
Make a day of it:
This is really a get in and out type market but I would go to Isle sur la Sorgue or Fontaine de Vaucluse for the day beforehand. Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is where you’ll find the mysterious source of the Sorgue river and a paper mill that presses artisan paper. Isle sur la Sorgue is the antique capital of Southern France where you’ll find dozens of stores and warehouses with all manner of curiosities.