Forcalquier's Market Heaven!
16.06.2013 - 18.06.2013 84 °F
No one does a market like the French. And the best of the best are in Provence. Back in the 1980's, Ben and I lived in Port-Grimaud (next-door to St. Tropez) and bought food almost daily from surrounding town or village markets. St. Tropez's Tuesday market is legendary; it's where you will rub shoulders with chefs from moored gin palaces stocking up on their flowers, langoustine and other yummies for the night's on-board party, locals with their baskets buying lettuce, a bag of fresh apricots and a box of paella to take home for lunch, and visitors bulk buying leather sandals and brightly coloured baskets. (Good luck getting those home on Ryanair!) Cotton dresses, espadrilles, olives, honey, jewellery, freshly baked bread and pasta; it's all there.
So we were thrilled to visit Forcalquier, 3 kms from Mane, where we'd been told there was a 'fantastic market' every Monday. They were right... Just look at the variety on this fish stall...
And these tomatoes...you won't believe how much they taste of TOMATOES!!
This market isn't just in the town's central Place du Bourguet, it spills into every little side street, meandering up, down and around.
Handsome lads play guitars and fiddles and there was even a hurdy-furry. (Sorry no photos of them!) Shops are fascinating and co-exist happily with the market stalls.
We bought strawberries, warm from the sun and sweeter than anything you will find in any supermarket, a boxed set of knives; bread, cheese, butter, with hand carved olive wood handles for a wedding present (€50), whole salami
and jars of honey. Everything can be sampled and the atmosphere is jovial and relaxed. Tables for coffee (or something stronger) spill off the pavements and it's all just SO GLORIOUSLY FRENCH. Stupidly I didn't go back for the gorgeous fine wool scarf I spotted but I am hoping the same chap will turn up in Carcassone in August (I know it's a long shot but you never know right!!)
The fine 13th century white Notre Dame Cathedral provided a few welcome moments of coolness and calm amongst the market's melee, before we slid onto a couple of vacant chairs for the obligatory coffee and some people watching. Locals greet each other, tourists take photos and solitary figures just enjoy soaking it all in.
Laden down, we head back to Bianca who we had left in a shady roadside parking spot much to the fascination of two toothless old gents! (N.B. Get to Forcalquier early to find a parking spot that isn't a hot sticky walk away)
Back at Le Couvent des Minimes we forced ourselves to lie by the pool until the sun was over the yardarm. Somehow I managed to devour a whole punnet of those fabulous strawberries too! This is heaven on earth!