You’ve probably picked up on this: I’m a total convert to the European outdoor markets. I’m going weekly to de Haagse Markt, toting my trusty pull-trolley (I errantly dismissed these in favor of reusable bags until I realized I was breaking my back). Each town’s market has its own flavor, and they actually change from week to week—this week, for example, eggplants dominated, rolling off tables and loaded up in bowls for E1.
We had a glorious market experience last month in Provence. Intrigued by a three-sentence blip in our guidebook, we detoured on a Thursday morning to medium-size village Nyons. Home to a Roman bridge and a lavender distillery, Nyons is famed for its olives and its market day is Thursday.
The strong sense at the Nyons market was of people shopping not as tourists, but as family cooks. Instead of being confined to the main square, the market spilled up a hill, down side streets, onto sidewalks. This meant that although there were many shoppers, we weren’t constantly being jostled or pushed along with the flow. I could stop, look around, and take in the aromas and the very fresh air.
Here are a few of my favorite sights.
Fresh food is, well, refreshing, and you can get a strong sense of a town here by experiencing its market. If you make it to Nyons: we parked in a lot across the bridge (not the Roman bridge, a modern one) and I would strongly recommend that—finding parking in the town itself plus navigating the market pedestrians would have cost us significant time. And as at any shopping venue, look out for tourist traps: “traditional” olive oil soap, for example, is sold everywhere in Provence, and I picked up at least one bar that upon closer inspection was not made anywhere in Europe.