Marché de Sénas Artisanal Provence à Alsace
Every year Robin and I visit the weekend-long Christmas market that takes place in Sénas. I love this market. It’s so different than any of the others in the small towns in the Bouches du Rhône or Vaucluse regions. You really get into the Christmas spirit with the German influence that comes from the costumed Alsatian stallholders. There are over 100 stalls selling crafts, artisanal food products from Provence as well as Alsace.
This is the only place I know of in Provence where you can buy Alsatian delicacies. Such as, Coq au Riesling (the Alsatian version of Coq au Vin), delicious sauerkraut from barrels that are absolutely overflowing with the stuff, Baeckeoffe, and Flammekueche (a thin pizza-like tart covered in cream and lardons).
Then, there are the pastries and baked goods specific to Alsace such as Kouglof/Kugelhoph/Kougelhopf (whichever way you prefer to spell it!!) and all manner of spiced breads, and cookies. Finally, other than the Alsatian wines (there’s even Riesling mulled wine for a change- I like it better than any other mulled wine I’ve tried), one product you’ll find here that is difficult to get hold of anywhere else and is truly in a category of its own, is the Alsatian smoked sausages.
The Amazing Butcher
Every year, there is a family run butcher from Alsace that sets up an enormous counter with dozens of different types of cured, boiled, and fresh sausages. I cannot explain to you the incredible wonder I feel every year when I witness the line that snakes sometimes halfway through the square it’s located in. People spend hundreds of euros. I feel they must stock up for the year.
Last year, I decided I would brave the line. Robin happily wandered around the market while I was left to hold my ground. I needed all the time to decide which meats to sample! I was in disbelief by the amount that this butcher sells. His truck is filled to the absolute brim when he arrives. I think we ate smoked sausages for the entirety of last December because I couldn’t narrow my choice down far enough. They were delicious and I must admit my fridge is ridiculously tiny.
The butcher: Geismar Traiteur
You Need to Eat There
At the end of the line, there is an option to buy a hot plate of a variety of cuts of pork, including various sausages, and a generous helping of choucroute (sauerkraut). No fear, if you don’t want to brave the line you can buy this plate at a table next to the cashier. IT IS DELICIOUS!
I’ve never been really excited by sauerkraut but oh my! What you do, is you buy this plate (there’s an option to buy a jarret (gammon hock) as well which we normally do- it’s quite hilarious because they just pose it on top of the plate so you really feel like a carnivorous Neanderthal with this enormous amount of meat on this flimsy plastic plate…ha! but I digress), choose your mustard and then buy a bottle of wine from the next stall. Sit to eat at the long picnic tables that are set up especially for this purpose. Here, you may be disheartened to see all the variety of different slow-cooked stews that your neighbours have bought… No worries, last year someone actually let me try theirs!
Otherwise, you can do what many locals do which is to buy large containers of Coq au Riesling, Sauerkraut and smoked meats to take home for an oh so wintery lunch and a nap. Equally as satisfying I should think.
When and Where
The market runs all day both Saturday and Sunday. It tends to go much later than other Christmas markets. The busiest time is around 3-5pm. The market located in the town center rather than the parking lot where the usual Saturday paysan market and vide-greniers are held.
Read my article about the amazing produce at the Sénas Saturday market.
If you’re only going to be able to make it to one Christmas market this year make it this one. You can also buy all the Provencal delicacies such as candied fruit, crème de marrons, chestnuts, truffles, honey, salted caramel and more!