We met up with a few more friends in Avignon and travelled to house in Roussillon where we made our home base as we toured the villages of Provence. Roussillon is one of four hilltop villages that preside over the Luberon Valley along with the other villages of Gordes, Bonnieux and LaCoste. Each of these towns boasts unique treasures and beautiful sights. Roussillon stands out over the vast Provencal landscape with its beautiful ochre palette that paints its homes with the rich, warm hues from the local quarries.
One of the things that I love to do in Provence is to take in the local markets. Every day a caravan of white vans arrives at a different village and merchants set up their wears to sell to the local residents and the visiting tourists. Market day brings an air of excitement to town with the rows of colourful stalls and lively crowds wandering about.
There are farmers selling fresh fruits, vegetables, sausages, rich coloured spices from Africa, olives, honey, bread, fresh cheeses, chickens and other farm fresh products. In addition to the farmers there are merchants selling brightly coloured jewellery, scarves, pottery, clothing, art and linens. Some markets also offer antiques and flowers.
Each town has its own set of regular merchants and each market is a little different from the next. As we plan our days we consider which town is having market day and what sort of market we will find. Some of my favourite markets include the one in Isle Sur la Sorgue for antiques, the Apt market for food and linens and the best of all the market in Lourmarin.
Lourmarin is a lovely town about one hour north of Aix en Provence that sits nestled in the landscape like a painters dream. The town is built beside a 15th-16th century castle that you can tour while you are there. The market in Lourmarin winds around the town and goes on for blocks. There are wonderful stalls brimming with fresh baked breads, fresh local cheeses, local sausages, fruits, vegetables, olives and tapenades and baskets of spices. There are also numerous stalls filled with linens, baskets, jewellery and clothing. After a few hours of shopping it is nice to relax in one of the local bistros for a light lunch of fresh salad and pasta and a glass of the local wine. Life does not get much better than this.
I have added a link to the market schedule for this region in case you want to explore on you own.