A tweet appeared on my time-line today from Vaucluse Tourisme (@ProvenceGuide) with a stunning photo of a basket overflowing with local fruit. Barquettes of strawberries, furry skinned peaches and apricots, large purple cherries and of course the delightfully fragrant melons. This got me thinking of the local markets that bring people flocking to the villages and towns on a daily basis and one of my favourites – the Saturday market in Apt.
Over the years we have learnt to park in the station car park on the way into the town & walk into the centre, which takes just a few minutes, rather than try to shoehorn the car into a space in the carpark that sits down by the river, which always is packed with cars that look more haphazardly abandoned, than parked with any design in mind.
The short walk brings you straight into a square packed with stalls and surrounded by cafes, which are a great place to sit and watch the world go by, This runs off into the first of many streets and further squares, packed with stalls selling everything from bags made from ring pulls, through to hand-crafted jewellery (my favourite made of old silver cutlery) together with colourful ceramics and of course anything you could ever wish to eat.
Wandering through the narrow streets is a delight with the fruit and veg displays looking more like a work of art than a market stall – a far cry from the plastic packaged, pyramids that are constructed in our local supermarkets. The fruit bought from a market stall here is warm, soft and delightful and is an absolute pleasure to eat whereas at home it always appears to be unripe, crunchy and pretty tasteless, I’m sure it can’t just be the local atmosphere that makes the difference!
As you wander through the town you find stalls packed with spices with bowls of olives and sundried tomatoes drenched in oil, it really is an assault on the senses and the chance to taste the produce often leads to new foods becoming firm favourites. One is Fougasse studded with grattons and roquefort cheese, which quickly is pulled apart & is eaten often by the end of the street.
Four weeks today I will be back in the area and hope to arrive early enough to have the chance to take a walk into Apt and fill my basket with a taste of the sun. Till then I will just have to depend on photos dropping into my time-line that remind me why I love Provence so much.