October 23, 2017

Market Day in St. Rémy

The first day trip out of Avignon on week two of our tour of southern France was to the town of St. Rémy de Provence. Our visit was planned for Wednesday – market day. This lively Provençal market features not only heaps of local produce and pans of steaming paella but also clothing, linens, housewares and crafts. Come along with me through the streets of St. Rémy’s Old Town and browse the market stalls.

St. Rémy de Provence on Market Day

Place Favier, St. Rémy's Oldest Square

On a previous visit to Provence I’d bought my mother some nice kitchen towels but forgot to get some for myself. I was able to remedy the situation in St. Rémy.

Once I’d seen what the market had to offer, I walked through the quieter side streets to the ring road surrounding the Old Town to visit a couple of shops I’d made purchases from before.

As I did on my first visit to St. Rémy, I bought delicious lavender chocolates at Joel Durand Chocolatier; and traditional calissons at Au Petit Duc (which I’d failed to find on our quick visit to their city of origin, Aix-en-Provence).

An Alphabet of Chocolates

Traditional Provençal Sweets, Calissons

With my sweet treats in hand I joined a couple of the ladies from our tour group for lunch at Creperie Lou Planet. This popular eatery is located on Place Favier, St. Rémy’s oldest square. The tables on the terrace are shaded by a canopy of leafy chestnut trees. I ordered one of their savoury crepes but had second thoughts when my lunch companions were served their sunny avocado salads. It was also necessary (yes, necessary) to eat the chocolates I’d bought earlier (there were only two) as they were starting to melt in the heat.

Savoury Crepe or...

... Avocado Salad?

After lunch we drove into the Alpilles countryside to the family-run olive oil mill, Moulin à huile du Mas Saint Jean, where the newest generation of millers, Anne and Magali, told us about their operation. The sisters, the only women in their male-dominated field, supply extra virgin olive oil to about 40 Michelin-star chefs – a true testament to the quality of their product.

Afterwards we gathered outdoors for a tasting of their olive oil. Magali also shared with us the story of the Camargue Cross, which was hanging on the wall inside the mas (farmhouse).

Camargue Cross

The emblem found throughout the Camargue, the delta of the Rhone River, is composed of an anchor, cross and heart, representing hope, faith and charity (or love). The top of the cross also represents a trident used by gardians, Camargue cowboys or bull-herders, while the anchor acknowledges the region’s fishermen.

Camargue Cross in a Railing

A Camargue Cross was another item I’d neglected to purchase on my previous visit to this part of France. Fortunately they were available in the gift shop, along with bottles of the mill’s award-winning olive oil.

My visit to St. Rémy de Provence turned out to be not only a pleasant walk down memory lane but also a very successful shopping trip.

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