The two parts of Vaison-la-Romaine are connected by a single-arched Roman bridge over the Ouvèze river. The bridge was originally erected in 149 BC, and is the oldest surviving Roman bridge. It is still in use after some 2000 years despite taking a hit from a German bomb during WWII and a flash flood from a monsoon storm in September 1992 that killed 32 people.
|Roman Bridge in Vaison-la-Romaine|
The weekly market is a kaleidoscope 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 seen below. The market is is an ancient tradition dating all the way back to 1483.
|Avenue du Général de Gaulle|
One of the best things about owning or renting a house or apartment in Provence, in my opinion, is the chance to cook with some of the amazing produce, 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 those artfully displayed tables. You will undoubtedly buy a few things for a snack or picnic, but you won't have the enjoyment that comes from a home-cooked meal on your terrace made with ingredients you bought at that's morning market.
We try to get to the market 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 any parking, let alone a convenient spot close to the market area.
Also, by 10:00, the streets will be crowded with people trying to make their way through the market and it's not so much fun in my opinion. So we get through the market and retire to one of the cafes that line Place Montfort for a petit cafe or cold beverage, hopefully with friends.
We usually park near Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth Cathedral and walk up to the market past the Roman ruins or up Avenue Jules Ferry so I can get cash out of an ATM machine. You need Euros at the market as the vendors don't usually take credit cards. Shirley and I go our separate ways when we get up to the market, Shirley to look for clothes and souvenirs and me to the food aisles, basket in hand.
I rarely go with a shopping list or menu in mind but rather I'm guided by what looks the best that morning. I do a complete walk through the food aisles without buying anything and then make a return trip, stopping to buy from the sellers whose wares had caught my eye. I will admit that after doing this a number of times now, I know pretty much where I am going to buy before we get to the market.
|Mounds of Radish|
Check out the pictures that follow and see if by the end of this post if you are not thinking about what you would like to prepare for dinner if you had been at the market with me last month. Try to ignore this crowd of locals who are looking quite suspiciously at this guy taking pictures of their olive oil.
|Local Olive Oil|
|Bananas (I'm sure they are not local)|
|An Artful Display of Purple Artichokes|
|Green and White Asparagus|
|Assorted Olives and Spreads for Aperitifs|
|Local Strawberries from Carpentras|
|A Basket of Eggs|
|A Pile of Mesclun Greens for Salad|
|Haricots Verts, English Peas, and Snow Peas|
|Locally Made Jams|
|A variety of Radish or Turnips|
|Bins of Every Kind of Spice You Can Imagine|
|A Variety of Beautiful Vegetables|
|A Basket of Sun Dried Tomatoes|
|Fresh Fish of Every Kind|
|Our Friend Bruce Conversing with the Fish Seller|
|An Artful Display of Fresh Fruits|
|Hats of Every Color|
|Market Baskets of All Colors and Shapes|
|Shoppers on Avenue du Général de Gaulle|
|Decorations Around the Entrance to a House near the Roman Ruins|
|The Path Along the Roman Ruins|
|A Field of Coquelicots with the Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth in the Background|
You have seen a small sample of the offerings from the sellers back in May. I know the market has grown considerably as we head into July. So if you are in the area, I hope you are lodged somewhere where you can take advantage of all the amazing food on sale on Tuesday mornings at the market in Vaison-la-Romaine.
A bientôt friends.