We always try to get out the door early on Monday mornings, though we are rarely successful. Our destination is the Bédoin market, which we know will be crowded with tourists this time of year. Parking will require creatively wedging our Prius into some tiny available space, probably not actually meant for a car, followed by a long hot walk, bags in hand, on our way to the town which has been blocked off to vehicular traffic. It's always worth the trouble.
The markets of Provence are a sensory overload of fresh produce, spices, cheese, meats, colorful fabrics, clothing, antiques, and really just about everything one could need in life (but really, what else is there?). Many villages have had their weekly market on the same day for hundreds of years. We've seen many of the same vendors for 10 years or more.
Bédoin's weekly market is on Monday mornings, from about 7am to 1pm. The village is transformed into a bazaar that attracts tourists from all over the Vaucluse. Buses drop off loads of sightseers, and parking lots are overflowing with rental cars.
We have mixed feelings about the influx of crowds as our normally quiet town is jam packed with sunburnt strangers, but we know that the local businesses depend on the income from "the season" as their main source of revenue for the entire year. A successful tourist season means that our favorite shops can afford to stay open during the slow winter months (there is nothing more depressing during the winter than driving into a village where every shop is closed for business).
For us the market is the perfect time to people watch and catch up with friends over a café and a decadent buttery croissant. Sitting at our little table we can often make out half a dozen different languages being spoken. It's a wonderful reminder of the cultural diversity around us.
The french have an expression to "passer un bon moment" which means to have a good time -- the Monday market is always an opportunity for us to slow down and enjoy the best that life in Provence has to offer. It is always a bon moment.
Have you been to a Provence market? What was your favorite? We would love for you to share your experiences in the comments below.
Au revoir, and à bientôt!
Ken & Felicia
Little House in France