Tag Archives: fresh

To Market We Go

Processed with RookiePart of the greatness of visiting friends who have already lived in Avignon for a year is learning all about the local French culture. Our friends, a family of four, jumped into life in France with all 8 feet!

In the short week we’ve joined them, they have demonstrated how decisions about where to go, what to do, and what to eat in France are based on what is nearby, what is available, and what is fresh. As a rule, the French eat fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and in season. Period. Imported produce is bought very reluctantly by locals. If it’s not apple season in France, you don’t buy apples. And if you aren’t sure what’s in season, you’ll realize soon enough when you see the price of imported apples next to the local apricots.

In the city Avignon, there is Les Halles market that is open most days selling fresh produce, meat, dairy, and fish, which we visited soon after arriving here. And once a week on Thursdays, just outside the city walls across the bridge there is a weekly outdoor market in Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon, a small town originally built as a fortress to protect access to the bridge to Avignon.
IMG_7074
We strolled over to Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon’s market day, our cloth shopping bags in hand. It’s a large, lively outdoor market, with food as well as goods and clothing.
Processed with Rookie
The booths were dazzling and the smells were out of this world -how do I describe the olives stall?! It took my breath away and my feet instinctively stopped dead as I just breathed in the pungent scent of freshly picked olives of every size and colour. Handcrafted tapenades and olive-based spreads were also tickling my nose. It was heaven for an olive lover like me, and soon my two olive-loving kids doubled back to see what I was staring at.
Processed with Rookie
It was so great to be able to eat some of the local olives we had seen growing in the groves we had passed by in our daily excursions to Tavel and Orange this week. We enthusiastically bought a few assorted kinds of green and black olives and started to munch right away. We chomped as we strolled the market and bought incredibly fresh, local produce for our last homemade dinner with our friends in Avignon before leaving the next day for Cannes.
Processed with Rookie

Les Halles en Avignon

Our week in Avignon was not long enough! Our friends had several trips planned for us, and we were awed by each of them. But our first morning in Avignon had us walking the narrow cobbled streets within the walled city to go to Les Halles -the covered market.

imageIt was necessary to get there before it closed at 1pm because it was not open the next day, and the ability to locate any fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses would be scarce otherwise. Our bodies were still acclimatizing to the time change and the late night at the music festival the night before, so our friends had to push us along a little to get to Les Halles before closing.

We entered the market building and witnessed the flurry of activity of merchants selling their wares and shoppers scooting around to fulfill their grocery lists before closing. During their year living in Avignon, our friends had met many of the merchants and became friendly with those that they frequented the most. Such is life -you get good service or realize where the best product is, and you return. Friendships begin.

Many of the merchants spoke a little English, and also appreciated their attempts to speak French, so our friends had made friends with the cheese mongers, the produce family, and the meat sellers through weekly banter and commerce. In French markets, you grab a basket and then fill it with your produce. It is then weighed and totaled for you.

image

Still in a haze, Scott and I were led around the market to the various stalls, and then just as quickly, the shopping was done and our dinner was bought. Ok, we were done; time for a drink!?
Throughout Avignon are les places, or town squares. Almost year round there are tables and chairs set up outside of bistros and restaurants within these town squares where there is no vehicle traffic. People can sit, have a drink and watch the world go by. Which is exactly what we did on our first afternoon in Avignon.

image

Afterwards, our family decided to take a little survey of the town via the touristy tram tour and see some of the highlights of Avignon while our friends returned home. The Palais de Papes (the palace of the Pope) is a gorgeous building in the centre of town, built first as a respite from the Vatican, and then became home to 6 popes during the 1300’s and was built upon and expanded.
image
After the tour, we were treated to our first home-cooked meal in France (although it was 35 degrees outside, so cold salads from our market trip were lovingly prepared and it was an ideal dinner). And some rosé pour les adultes, s’il vous plâit!

image