Saturday, 2 April 2011

The 800-year-old market


The narrow medieval streets were crammed with stalls and people, shouting, discussing where to buy the best vegetables, the most succulent game; smells rose of roasting chickens and chestnuts and freshly-made pizza; three squares, north, south and west offered meat, fish, fruit, carved wood, spices, kitchenware, linens, racks of Indian-made clothes and leather goods from North Africa, bead jewelry, the scented olive oil soaps from Marseille and all varieties of produce made from lavender.

                                                          From The Lantern

Saturday is market day in Apt, and it’s one of the most famous markets in the region. They say there has been a market held here every Saturday morning for eight hundred years, in an unbroken link with the past.

The Rue des Marchands is a narrow paved street that cuts through the heart of this alluring little town, down the side of the cathedral where the remains of a Roman theatre have been found deep in its foundations. In summer there are stalls on both sides, and crowds of such density that you can hardly move at times.


The Cathedral of St-Anne was established in 1056, though the present structure was completed in the 17th century. At this time of year, there’s room to breathe, and to marvel at the stalls where vegetables are set out with artistry, from the tiny endeavour that holds only a vast bouquet of ravishing radishes, or the big stall in the main square that offers this checkerboard of tomatoes and artichokes.


Then there are are stalls of linen, in all the colours of Provence, like these tablecloths:


And these great cakes of nougat, the hazelnut and sugar confection famously made in Montelimar...


Finally, back in January I wrote about the candied fruit for which Apt is renowned (here), and promised to bring back some more. This glorious display is from La Bonbonnière, the specialist sweet shop in the Rue de la Sous-Préfecture – feast your eyes!

25 comments:

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Beautiful post....the table cloths look lovely,although probably aesthetically more pleasing together than separate.In an enlarged view the candied fruit is real enough to pluck from the screen!

Happy weekend!

Lisa Erin said...

Wonderful photos. Wish I could partake of that shopping experience.

MuMuGB said...

In London, all we have is some uber-expensive organic market!

kellyhashway said...

Sounds like a great setting for a novel. The pictures are so rich in color, and a place that's been around for 800 years always makes for a good story setting.

journeytoepiphany said...

Your picture and words are golden and rich. Thanks for sharing.

bookspersonally said...

Such beautiful colors and photos! I love the shape of the tomatoes - the candied fruit almost looks like it is made of blown glass. Sigh!

✿ ♥ France ✿ ✿ said...

COUCOU j'adore les radis
je peux venir chez toi ??????????????
BISE

JP - The Mistress of Corgi Manor said...

I am so glad you found my blog, Madame Perry's Salon, so that I could find your exquisite blog. I'm follower 228! Beautiful pictures.

Lauracea said...

Oh those sweets! I could exclaim in the same way over each of your photographs. What a pleasure your blog is :)
Sue

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

I would LOVE to spend the morning (or even the day!) just wandering through this market. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos. :)

Danièle said...

Mon dieu, les fruits confits me rappellent les bêtises de Sophie contées par la comtesse de Ségur dans les Malheurs de Sophie, quand Sophie finit par manger toute la boîte que Monsieur de Réan a envoyé de Paris à sa maman.

RICHARD MOISAN said...

Ah, les marchés provençaux!...
Ceux qui n'y sont jamais allés, ne peuvent pas savoir.
Merci pour ce parfum d'Apt, Deborah, et bon week-end!

V. Furnas said...

Oh my that looks like great fun! How fun and exciting to walk those streets and be apart of a tradition that stretches back so far.

Jennifer O. said...

It's wonderful to see how your gathering is growing! And so fast!

These pictures and the writing are beautiful! I love the shape of the tomatoes and artichoke and the candied fruit.

Maureen said...

There is a wonderful shop in Middleburg, Va., that sells those lovely table cloths and gorgeous pottery.

My sister and I, while in the South of France, during our first trip to France, ventured into a market like Apt's. It was such a memorable experience, as was driving along roads beside fields of lavender.

James Kiester said...

Markets like this, are one reason I wish I traveled more.

Adiante said...

Bonsoir Deborah,

Merci pour votre message sur mon blog.
Je serai heureux si je pouvais avoir le même niveau en anglais que le votre en français !

Je découvre aussi la vie authentique loin des clichés touristiques grâce à votre blog et cela m'enchante.

Merci !

vanessafrance said...

Lovely, evocative post, Deborah, and wonderful photos. Some of these markets have a long, unbroken history. The one at Apt sounds a little like ours at Villefranche-de Rouergue, which has probably been going for a similar length of time and attracts people from around the region every Thursday. You have inspired me to do some more research about it.

Leovi said...

A wonderful description of the market, stimulating the senses of the reader. The photos are lovely, especially the first. Greetings.

Cathy K said...

Oh my what a lovely backdrop, can I be in your novel? Pretty please? Very evocative...

Airelle said...

you like markets, Deborah, have you been to the saturday market in Arles? I have never seen a bigger one in my life, definitely worth a visit!

joanny said...

This is lovely, it enlivens all my senses.

Joanny

joanny said...

Oh so sweet - the tomatoes close up look simply divine. A light earthy supper the best way to dine. Your photo's are so enticing and your words are divine. Have a lovely Sunday.
Bon Appetit.

Joanny

Sara Louise said...

Apt is my favorite! I love how it weaves through the little old streets :-)

Meysha Lestari said...

looks so delicious

Honestly, I never see tomato in that shape..
hikz...

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