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Markets of Provence – What a Delight!

Markets of Provence – What a Delight!

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

Would we like to review the new Markets of Provence: Food, Antiques, Crafts, and More by Marjorie R. Williams asked St. Martin’s Press? Absolutely, we replied! And what a sensory and inspirational read it has been, virtually transporting us to some of our favorite villages and reminding us of those scents, sights, and flavors that always enthrall.CAM10582 Markets of ProvenceI was immediately drawn in with the Introduction: “What’s the best way to see, taste, and smell Provence? The answer, I believe, is to visit its markets…”
If you’ve read our blog or seen our photos on Instagram and Facebook, you KNOW we love our markets! And the markets of Provence actually inspired us, way back in 2002, to start Music and Markets Tours so we could share that love with others!
Arranged by day-of-the-week, Marjorie begins with the renowned L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue antiques market,CAM10582 Markets of Provence ISLSORGUE filling this charmer of a town on Sundays…who wouldn’t pause for a photo beside the “moss-covered waterwheels” while perusing the treasures spread out on tables and the ground?
Monday – Cadenet, with it’s little drummer boy statue anchoring the village market, 072406CadenetWednesday – Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, one of the best for sure,CAM10582 Markets of Provence SRemy taking over the historic center and beyond with one fascinating stall after another, and of course our beloved Aix en Provence, “a captivating city with architectural flourishes and gushing fountains” on ThursdayCAM10582 Markets of Provence aix (also Tuesday and Saturday, although there’s a produce market EVERY day on Place Richelme)…how soon can we get back?!
Snippets of information inform even those of us who’ve been enjoying these markets for years – who knew that “the most established stands at Provençal markets are often near churches?”
I love Marjorie’s description of Market Day Setup – we’ve often walked through the market squares of Aix early in the morning, as the vendors are doing just that: “Oysters are sorted by size as swiftly as hands of poker. Rotisseries fire up; chickens are slid onto long metal skewers. Finishing touches dress up the displays…”
Heading for the South of France, or just ready to reminisce over previous village visits? Click right here to order your own copy of  Markets of Provence: Food, Antiques, Crafts, and More– the perfect size to carry along as you discover this luscious region in the best way possible!
As I have, you’ll return to it again and again, transported to glorious Provence!

Friday on the Isle

Friday on the Isle

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer – join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast in July?

Not a sea isle, but a river isle today, as we head north to L’Isle sur la Sorgue, the delightful river-laced town known for its weekend antique mart. 04101501 am isleNo antiques for us today (but we’ve got several choice pieces in Ambiance d’Aix, found right on these lanes!), just a stroll around a favorite town, with the obligatory coffee pause at the historic Café de France, a charmer outside 04101501 cafe isleand in – we’ve stepped back in time…04101501 cafe pop inWe find a lovely florist/housewares/tea shop that has me wishing for more time to explore,04101501 elaine choose lunch spot and check out cute boutiquesand show Elaine a couple of our favorite restaurants so she can make a choice for lunch since she has invited friends to join us. It’s been twenty years since she was last here, staying nearby for a couple of weeks, and the Untours hosts for her stay still live on the outskirts of town. They’ve invited us for an apero in their garden – how nice!04101502 apero at max andAnd then join us for lunch by the river back in town, Elaine’s treat – merci!04101502 dine at pretty riverside tableA lovely couple, Max and Regine have welcomed travelers to the area for many years and have now passed on that Untours job to someone else. 04101502 pleasant company thanks elaineWe enjoyed their stories of life here and Elaine’s memories of lovely times exploring from this base.
Back in Aix, Elaine packs up for her journey to the Côte d’Azur tomorrow, and we begin our packing as well, then squeeze in a stop at a gallery opening up the street before dinner. We’ve noticed posters advertising Won Choi’s work and love her Aixoise and Provence scenes.04101502 won choi delightful work vernissageKathleen of Galerie Imbert invited us to the Vernissage (opening evening) and we enjoy meeting Won Choi and appreciating more of her beautiful canvases. 04101503 galerie imbertOne more delicious dinner together, at welcoming Millefeuille, where the chef/owner delights our palates from beginning04101503 millefeuille first courseto end (yes, a millefeuille is always on the dessert menu!).04101503 to namesake dessertOnce again we’ve met a charming new Music and Markets client and enjoyed a wonderful week…our guests are the best!

 

Fun with Friends in France

Fun with Friends in France

The South of FranceAix and around
Mon-Tues, July 30-31, 2012

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on our featured (and expanded!) summer Amsterdam/Belgium tour!

 

Sometimes it takes a while to get out of Aix, but for good reasons… such as being stopped in the adjacent square by neighbors as we’re on our way to get the car. One asks us to stop by for an aperitif this evening, and another joins us for a chat. We’re watching a stage being set up in front of the Archbishop’s Palace while we talk – what’s going on? “There’s a spectacle tonight because the Woodyards are back” our neighbor jokes – ha!
We don’t often have a car while we’re in Aix, but since we had to drive here from Nice we booked a three day rental, which is relatively inexpensive and does not incur a drop charge for turning in in a different city (which a one- day rental would do).  So it’s fun to have the opportunity to visit out- of- town friends and favorite places outside the city while we have wheels.We drive east this morning, to the village of Trets where the friends we met at Chateau La Coste yesterday have rented a villa. We’ve often heard about Trets from our friend Xavier, who has a home there, and enjoy seeing it for ourselves – a few interesting squares, a plane-tree lined street or two, and a lively bustle.
The villa is quite a ways out of town, up,up, up a rutted dirt and gravel road, with a worth-the- drive view.
Kirk and Eric talk business, with Mont Saint Victoire in the distance,

while Marian and I relax in the pool.

Back in Aix, we go downstairs where our dear neighbor M. Farcy shows off the flower- filled courtyard, which we enjoy so very much out of our windows, then treats us all to champagne and a spread of delicious nibbles that make dinner unnecessary.

He decides to stay home, but Mme. Tomme, another neighbor and guest for this evening- and the two of us have heard the music starting – now we’ll find out what that stage we saw was for!
And we enjoy a terrific concert by the brass and percussion ensembles of the Young Orchestra of France, whose summer session in Aix we appreciated last year as well – but they didn’t perform right next door then – this is a treat!  By the end of the concert they have the majority of the crowd on their feet, clapping and dancing.
Kirk brought down a couple of our beach chairs so Mme. and I could listen in comfort 😉
These unexpected musical treats are a part of life here in Aix   – don’t you love surprises?!
Tuesday’s full of errands, then we’re off again in the car, meeting our friends Jean Marc ( of Rouge-Bleu wines)  and Kristin (the talented French Word a Day wordsmith) in Isle sur la Sorgue for dinner. This lovely village is half way between them and us (about an hour’s drive for both of us) and is such a pretty place to enjoy whether you’re buying antiques (which the village is famous for), or just strolling through.

As we wait, teams pole by in the flat bottom boats used in times past, practicing for a “celebrating history” weekend coming up.

We had such a good time talking that I hardly noticed what we ate – but do remember that it was delicious!

Finally stopped and took a photo of dessert – a pretty orange Bavarois.
Our first three days in Aix have just FLOWN by – we’re already figuring out when we can come back!

Trumpet from the Tower and a Glorious Chorus

Trumpet from the Tower and a Glorious Chorus

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Prague, Czech Republic

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or
our featured (and expanded!) 2012 Amsterdam/Belgium tour!

We’re back on Old Town Square this morning, fitting in a don’t – miss Prague event during our morning of shopping for Czech treasures. Yes, it’s a must to join the crowd and watch the Astronomical clock strike the hour. The skeleton rings the bell, and the figures beside him nod and move as the disciples make the rounds above. The grand finale? A trumpeter plays a cheery tune from the top of the tower.

 

We’ve asked what are guests are interested in… they already have more crystal (a long- standing Czech craft) than they can use, and have already found some lovely garnet jewelry (another Czech treasure) and are interested in antique or vintage finds, so we stroll through one lovely square after another – this one with an intricately lacey well

and a beautifully frescoed shop. Notice that I only snapped the upper floors – the bottom floor is now a McDonalds!

Above us on one street is a man hanging by one arm. We’ve asked previous guides, but have never found out the WHY behind this quirky sculpture. Just for fun, I guess.

Bric a Brac’s always an intriguing stop. The owner knows the story behind each one of his thousands of “finds” and Gary unearths a fascinating old carved wine canteen that has a tale to match.

We continue on, through colorful squares,

and across Charles Bridge, strolling to the tune of a dixieland band, then an organ grinder.

Lunch today brings a taste of France to our week

where the frites are as good as any we’ve had in France, and the special secret Café de Paris sauce is a creamy, herby Bernaise – fabulous with the rare, thinly sliced steak kept warm on a tableside burner.

After a few free hours, we walk to Saint Simon and Jude for an evening of Rachmaninoff Vespers thrillingly performed by the Slovak Philharmonic Choir, then float home, melodies still streaming through our minds, to a good night’s sleep.

A Luberon Wander

A Luberon Wander

Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, part 2
the Luberon, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’ve got the car for the rest of the day, so let’s explore more of this beautiful area, filled with some of our favorite south-of-France places.
Just down the road from Carpentras is the colorful town of Isle sur la Sorgue
, where we found many of the lovely antiques for our Aix apartment. It’s also the first stop on our Music and Markets Provence tour... an antiques markets to start the week.

Today, Friday, the town is quiet and none of the antiquaires are open, just a few of the local shops.

Without the distraction of beautiful old pieces,we can better notice the charming corners of town.

 

One lovely spot after another in this little collection of islands in the Sorgue River.

The historic Cafe de France , where we sit and sip a cafe creme under the plane tree outside in the summer,

 

beckons us inside for a warming vin chaud.

 

The town became prosperous generations ago because of the silk weavers, whose factories were powered by the water wheels throughout the town.

Then on the to the Luberon, stopping first at the colorful village of Roussillon, with its cliffs of ochre used for paint in the past, before synthetic colors were invented.

Can’t resist this door – we take a photo EVERY time, I think.

We never get tired of this town of many colors.
The Friday market of Lourmarin is our next destination, and on the
way there we toss out the idea of Petite Maison in Cucuron for lunch. Kim, of Dine by Design loves the idea, and while she and Kirk look around the village, I find the phone number and call the restaurant. One little table left – can you get here in 15 minutes?
I scurry through the charming village and find Kirk and Kim and in a few minutes we’re on our way.

It was a year ago when we enjoyed a fabulous truffle meal here, courtesy of the
Fastiers and today the charming staff presents us with another stellar meal.

beginning with an unusual combination of mussels, mushrooms, avocado and grapefruit, every bite bringing an ooh and aah from the table.

The main course is a shank of veal served with pumpkin puree, garnished with kumquats and toast topped with sweet and mellow marrow.

Not one, but two desserts – first a baked apple almond-crusted tart with tangy green apple sorbet, then a trio of profiteroles with chocolate – leave us eager for a walk around the town before we head back to Aix. Sweet Kim has grabbed the bill before we realize it – merci madame!! What fun it has been to share the day with her, exploring new places and showing off some of our old favorites!

 

Antiquing Weekend

Antiquing Weekend

July 24-25, 2010
South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Time to hit the weekend antique markets: first up, Villeneuve les Avignon, just across the Rhone river from Avignon. The market is usually on the edge of town in a big parking lot, but that space is full of carnival rides so a few hardy antique dealers have spread out their blankets and wares on a grassy expanse outside of town. We expected a lot more vendors, and don’t find anything we can use in the sparse selection available today, so we decide to stop at a mall to stock up on other necessities. The mistral is gathering strength – it’s much stronger in this area of Provence, close to the Rhone where the winds tunnel down from the north – and it’s a struggle to get the shopping cart into the store – the wind just wheels it away!
As we’re driving back to the farm we both comment on the sound we’ve been hearing. “Do you have the radio on?” I ask Kirk. No – maybe the car next to us does? It sounds like pan pipes, with a repeated melody. We finally figure out that it’s the mistral wind playing our roof rack.
The cypresses torque in the brutal gusts of wind, bringing to mind Van Gogh’s canvasses.

Sunday morning finds us returning to an old favorite, always the first market on our Music and Markets Provence tour – l’Isle sur la Sorgue. Passing the hillside tumble of Bonnieux, we have to stop for a photo – do we do so every time we approach via this road? I think so!

We’ve learned through the years to keep an eye out for road-side posters as we drive in France, and can’t resist the call of colorful yellow posters advertising a Sunday antique fair in the little village of Goult.
A narrow long farm table has been difficult to find so far – all the ones we’ve seen have been much too wide for our little living/dining room – and we’re thrilled to spot the perfect one (on which I happen to be typing right now) at a pretty booth manned by Pierre, the Gardien du Passé (Guardian of the Past – you can probably figure that out!) as his business is called. It’s a little lighter walnut than I had hoped for, but Pierre assures me that he can easily darken it with wax and buffing. He’ll prepare it to perfection, and deliver it to the apartment after we close next week.
So glad we stopped here! Now on to l’Isle, where we really do shop til we (at least I) drop. Is everyone in the south of France here today? The streets are PACKED with browsers and shoppers.

That chaise longue on my wish list proves elusive – but here’s one that might do.
At the adjacent booth I ask the proprietor if the one she’s sitting on is for sale. No, but she has one in the barn where her husband works on the pieces they sell, would I like to see it?

So we set a time to come by and check it out on Monday.
The water webbing through the town (whose name means the island on the Sorgue river) cools us off as we sit riverside to eat our lunch before continuing the hunt.

We explore booths filled with chandeliers, Louis the whatever chairs and settees,

old books and tables, with mirrors – perhaps this one for over the fireplace?
until we can’t take another step.

And in the end, go home with just one item – the first thing we saw as we entered the market – a ciel du lit (sky of the bed) which we’ll drape with sheers over our bed.