The photo above is of the lively Friday morning market in Lourmarin, also the village where famed English author, Peter Mayle, who wrote A Year in Provence and other novels, calls home.
One of my very favorite things to do when traveling is to frequent the local markets. As a matter of fact, I plan my itinerary around the flea markets, antique markets, fresh produce markets, bird markets, flower markets, etc. Markets are so colorful, and give you a real slice of local people, life, culture, and ambience. Markets are very lively and the vendors often very outgoing and playful types.
Markets are a way of life, especially in Provence, France. Locals shop frequently for fresh ingredients and produce, rather then once a week or every two weeks. The markets are held different days in different villages, and often specialize in certain items. Usually a guidebook, or articles on a particular market will divulge which "must have" items to seek out. Also, the month you are traveling may determine what is in season, and what to purchase. In Provence, cherries are a delectable treat in May, and lavender is in full bloom in July.
One of the "must have" items for me, are spices. I love to collect and buy spices whenever I travel. Each country has their cuisine and flavors, and what better way to relive your trip and experiences then making their local dishes and recipes, with local spices you have purchased there. Spices are easy to pack, and usually have a long shelf life. Spices are a small splurge, and a small effort to take home for memorable times long after your trip. They also make wonderful, reasonable gifts for loved ones, and especially for those who like to cook.
In Provence, its wonderful markets are brimming with Provence cheese, black olive tapenades, lavender honey, flowers, olive oils, wonderful hand-made sausage, local crafts, colorful Provence linens, hand-made pottery, delightful breads, and seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. When you are here, take advantage of these incredible foods and flavors and experience Provence. You must pick up some famous "Herbes de Provence" which usually consists of dried thyme, basil, savory, fennel, and lavender.
Provence outdoor markets are a treat for all of your senses with colors, aromas, tastes, and people-watching. Some of my favorite markets in Provence are the Tuesday: Vaison-la Romaine, Thursday: Nyons, Saturday: Apt, Sunday: L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.