Friday, September 12, 2014

The Sunday market in the small Provençal town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue is a foodie’s dream.

The winding, narrow streets are crowded with possibly 100 stalls selling all kinds of locally-produced breads, olives, cheeses, pastries, fruits, vegetables, soaps, fabrics and more. Our grandparents weren’t as thrilled about visiting a market as I was, but as you know, visiting a market is a must for us when we travel! I love the sights, the smells and the people at markets!

L’Isle sur la Sorgue, located about 30 minutes east of Avignon, is situated on an island along the Sorgue River. Since the Sunday market seems to be world famous, parking in this small town is a problem. We arrived shortly before 10 a.m. and found an open parking lot along the riverfront near one of the old water wheels. (Later on, we saw cars parked as far as 2-3 kilometers outside the town.) The market does open at 9 a.m., so you could arrive even earlier to avoid some of the crowds and general mayhem.
One of the moss-covered water wheels in L'Isle sur la Sorgue.
Since our grandparents are picky eaters, we decided to cook dinner one night at our lovely bed and breakfast, Auberge du Vin, located 30-minutes away in the countryside by Mazan. So we were on the hunt for Provençal goodies that we could snack on for the next few days and eat for dinner.

We started with the cheese stalls where we sampled several different kinds of French cheeses. We ended up buying two semi-hard cheeses and two wheels of soft cheeses, including one runny one wrapped in dried leaves. Delicious! (Word of caution: only buy cheese from a stall where the prices are shown as there are some imposters out there that will overcharge you big time.)
What pairs well with cheese? Why, French saucisson (cured sausages), of course! Mmm…more pork!

And then we needed to buy some olives to later enjoy with our glasses of French rosé before dinner. Again, sampling is mandatory!

Sometimes, we found it a bit difficult to thoroughly enjoy the market and keep track of the grandparents at the same time. The market was VERY busy, and Grandpa tended to wander off to the next stall before we were done at the previous one. We did enjoy traveling with them through France, but I often was worried about them too. When it’s just my husband and me, I don’t need to worry about him. In fact, I'm usually the one wandering off  to take photos.

At the market, we found the prettiest baskets of scrumptious summer strawberries, and the best melons I’ve ever tasted in my life! These sweet melons were juicy and had the most heavenly fragrance! We later learned the melons are a French heirloom variety from nearby towns of Sarrians and Cavaillon, which are known for their melons.
Of course, Provence is known for its lavender too! The market featured lavender soaps, lotions, sachet bags and more. Grandma and I purchased several of the soaps and scented bags to take home.
By noon, the food market was dying down. We had a difficult time finding a stall that still had any bread left! The market at L’Isle sur la Sorgue also has a large antiques section, which stays open later, but we didn’t even venture there.

We left L’Isle sur la Sorgue with a rental car full of French goodies, more than what we could possibly even eat over the next couple of days.

Have you been to Provence? If so, which town had your favorite market?
Pretty Provençal pottery, but check the label on the bottom of each piece. Most of the ones I saw were made either in Italy or Spain!

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

i would spend the whole day there!

Joy said...

I would have spent more time here too if I could have! :-)

Mila said...

We spent two weeks in Provence last year. Visiting the market in the morning was one of our favourite things to do. We visited market in L'lsle sur la Sorgue but I think I like the market in Vaison-la-Romaine and Bedoin.
In Vaison-la-Romaine we bought the beautiful, provencal tablecloths. In Bedoin the best Marseille soaps and provencal ceramic dishes. We tried different cheeses and sausages,figs.

- Mila Wasacz

Joy said...

@Mila, I wish we had two weeks to spend in glorious Provence! We also went to the market in Vaison, where I bought a large Provencal tablecloth and some small bowls as well. I'll have to add Bedoin to the list for next time! ;-)

printable map of france said...

Thank you so much for sharing these amazing pictures... I just love wandering on the markets while visiting France !!!