I have written before about a fabulous trip I made to Provence France in 2010 with my two oldest friends from childhood, Vicki and Janan. On one of our two amazing days with our tour guide Laurence brought us to Saint Remy de Provence, to visit a well know farmers’ market in the heart of the town. My friends and I are avid cooks, enjoy all things culinary, and are pretty brave eaters. While staying in Arles, our base camp for five days, we attended a country french cooking class for an evening, which was held in the home of our chef instructor. After our class, we dined with our chef host and the other international guests on a fabulous meal that we prepared.
We visited four towns that day with our tour guide: Les Baux de Provence, Saint Remy de Provence, Gordes, and Roussillon. Provence is so beautiful and we were blessed to be there in late April when the wild purple irises and red poppies are blooming wild all over the countryside. We had requested a stop from our tour guide at a farmers’ market over the course of our two days with her. She brought us to the charming town of Saint Remy, where weekly a farmers’ market sets up on the square in the center of town. But this market has grown much larger than the square can handle. The market spills out from the square and into the cobblestoned streets of this charming French town.
Visiting this market was such a visual spectacle for us – the sites, smells, and tastes were different and exciting – different from the farmers’ markets I visit in California. In addition, this market sold many not perishable items such as French linens, candles, soap, books, olive wood bowls and platters, and earthenware.
Everything looked delicious! I wanted to buy everything I saw and sampled that day but could not because we didn’t have a kitchen to bring it back to where we could prepare a meal.
We did buy bread, cheese, salami, Gateau de Nougat, strawberries, and wine. That was our picnic dinner that night under the stars while sitting on the patio back at our hotel discussing our amazing day!
This was my first trip to the south of France and I was surprised to find a number of Roman ruins throughout Provence, as well as a Spanish influence in both culture and heritage. Bull fighting is common in towns such as Arles and Nimes, where ancient Roman colosseums are preserved and bull fighting is conducted. Paella is found in most towns being prepared outside in the plazas in large pans over gas burners. A paella this size in the photo above could serve 60 people. Gorgeous! And delicious!
And of course what is a farmers’ market without a little local music!
I’d follow these two anywhere they wanted to travel with me. They were such great travel companions. We had so many laughs, funny experiences, and all with such good humor and spirit. Vicki and Janan – I love you to the moon and back!
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