Is Apt Saturday Market one of the best?
The Saturday market at Apt has been labeled as a “marché d’exception français” (exceptional French market) due to it’s atmosphere, history, and originality. It’s also considered to be one of the top ten food markets in France. I had to see for myself…
Arriving and Wandering
I confidently parked my car haphazardly in the middle lane of a parking lot. After having lived in France for more than a year, you tend to become more daring with parking spot. Then, I followed the locals surging forth with ready market bags towards the heart of the old streets of Apt.
Someone walks past with bright fuchsia ranunculus flowers; I wonder where she bought them. I follow the winding streets and notice that for the first time this spring I’m seeing plentiful broad beans and artichokes. After serving myself some black olives, I pick up pepper from the spice stall. I’m a little lost but it doesn’t matter; part of the charm of this market is the sprawl of the wide variety of stalls. I find a sunny café and order a grand crème and tuck into my breakfast. Instead of a croissant I’ve opted for a North African pancake. I watch the older couples shopping together. Consequentially, I almost trip over the cat darting through traffic. I admire the little French girls who are dressed as little ladies in their chic tights, booties, and skirts. I’m quite impressed by the brave Danish couple next to me as they sip on pastis…
It’s 11 am and all of a sudden the market gets busier. The baker across from me that sells bread by the gram cut from large loaves re-stacks his loaves to make a Jenga tower of baked goodness. A woman excitedly holds her prepared empty plastic container open as a goat-cheese vendor attempts to carefully stuff 3 different types of goat cheeses into it. There’s a friendly but heated debate at the facing produce stall about the best daube recipe (Provencal version of Boeuf Bourguignon). Do you include carrots or not?
I judge a market by considering many factors. The produce, size, variety and scenery are all important. However, the thing I love most about this market, other than the winding streets, is the plentiful sunny cafés, which enable what could arguably be the best part of visiting markets… People watching. The oranges and blues of Apt’s pastel-coloured buildings provide a unique backdrop. As I struggle back to the car under the weight of my bags, I think about the one item I didn’t find- those fuchsia ranunculi!!
What you’ll find at Apt Market:
Everything possibly included in a Provençal market from artisan soap products, cheeses, spices, olives, clothes, meat, baked goods, fabrics, fruit, and veg etc.
When is it:
Every Saturday from 8am-1pm
This market becomes larger and larger with the warmer weather and can be very crowded during the summer months. Arrive early!
Make a day of it:
If you are hoping to find a spot close ideal picnic spot (to munch on all of your tasty purchases) then head up to Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt just north of Apt. From the village, you can wander up and explore the ruins of the medieval castle overlooking the Luberon valley.
Do you think this is one of the best markets in Provence? Which are your favorites?