As you know I’m a real sucker for the local markets and can happily spend a whole week visiting them in turn, sitting in a café having a ‘grand-crème’ whilst watching the world go by and heading home with a basket full of the wonderful local produce, perhaps with a couple of hand-crafted pieces too.
Over the last 3 weeks though on each Friday I have found myself taking the drive across the beautiful Plateau Des Claparèdes, which lies between Saignon and Bonnieux, before dropping through the Gorge onto the South side of the Luberon and to the pretty town of Lourmarin & its wonderful market.I have to admit that Lourmarin is a beautiful place to visit on any day of the week, with its pretty Chateau… Gorgeous honey-coloured buildings and cobbled streets……. Faded paintwork & old shutters….. Lovely cafes…… And a great selection of independently owned shops…… Friday morning though is Market Day and this is when it really comes to life.
I have a real soft spot for this market & found myself there in the day that the Brexit Referendum results were announced. I can honestly say I was in a state of shock and needed to head somewhere that would give me a sense that the world hadn’t shifted on its axis and it was the right thing to do as I found sympathy from the many stall-holders who ended up chatting to me when they realised I was English, shocked too at the result.
Now I like nothing better than to arrive at about 9 (or even just before), walk through the stalls that are still being set up, find a seat for breakfast in the central ‘Café Gaby’ and watch the day really get going.I always think this is the best time of day, when the streets are empty and people are quietly going about their business, wandering past with arms full of flowers, baskets full of veg or sitting with a ‘café’ reading the local paper or catching up with friends.
It’s at this time of day that you can see the little things that happen, which just make you smile, like the time the street was blocked with a broken down car. This would normally result in a cacophony of horns and more than a few frustrated arm gestures. This though is Lourmarin & surprisingly everyone just accepted they were likely to be there for a while, got out of their cars to get a coffee & have a chat until the local Policeman arrived to deal with the problem with the help of the Postman – Clearly the officer wasn’t expecting such an early call as he arrived wearing jeans with his official uniform jacket. All I can say is that it was an incredibly relaxed response to a situation that I would have imagined would have seen tempers frayed! Then there is the ever wonderful ‘Max’, the Golden Retriever that belongs to Pablo, who runs the L’Apothicare homewares shop in the village. Max is a larger than life, but very gentle dog, who spends most of his time lying inside, or outside the shop just happy to greet anyone that passes by. He does though know where to go for a treat and just opposite L’Apothicaire is a Pizza shop and he is often to be seen stood with his front paws just on the threshold as if he has his nose pressed against a (non-existant) glass door. I’ve watched him stand there for ages, not moving even when people wander past him into the shop. He never tries to go further than the imaginary glass door and I am sure he is eventually rewarded for his patience, and to be honest so he should be! Eventually though I do drag myself away from an indulgent hour (or so) people-watching and head off to explore the market, which lines the streets to the side of the village & fills the main square.
The stalls are set up under the avenue of old plane trees, which give great shade on the hot summer days, with beautiful views across the park to the Chateau, which is open to the public & hosts a number of events & concerts each year http://www.chateau-de-lourmarin.com/home/
There is always a great mix of fresh produce, including an incredible bread stall near the steps that lead into the main square, which always has a queue (even when other stalls are still setting up) and invariably seems to sell out by lunchtime …… …. and inevitably the sensory overload from the Olive & Spice stalls……. ……… there’s some good craft stalls too, offering beautiful handmade pottery (at very reasonable prices) like the bowls at the top of the blog – starting at 5€, pretty fabric purses & bags, jewellery and of course beautiful Olive Wood platters & bowls……. There’s even something for the Brocante-lover in me with a stall selling vintage textiles like these stunning quilts….. And a great selection of Art & Antique shops too…… One in particular, just by the Credit Agricole bank, is packed full of treasures & always proves a great hunting ground for me for pieces to incorporate into my jewellery like these beautiful bone dolls’ house pieces …… To be honest the market here is always a delight, although it can get incredibly busy in the height of summer, but I can understand why. It’s very easy for me to spend a full morning there & inevitably I find myself almost rushing to get what I need as lunchtime approaches after what can turn into a rather sociable morning!
If you have the chance to go it’s well worth a visit …..