Saturday is market day and I love it!

I always think it’s a shame that we don’t have the same approach to markets in England as they do in France.

As I sit with my first coffee of the day and  a ‘pain au chocolat’ in a cafe in Apt the whole town is bustling, full of people and chatter. What is a nice, quiet town during the week explodes with life on a Saturday morning when the market comes to town.

Early morning coffee & pain au chocolat at one of my favourite Saturday cafés

The streets are packed with stalls, which actually makes getting into some of the shops difficult, but no one seems to care – the market seems to create trade for everyone and market day is a day that everyone comes into town.

The market seems to draw hundreds of people into the town centre week after week

It may be October so the majority of the tourists have left (along with a handful of stalls that seem to just target the summer market), but the market is still thriving. Here you can buy everything from a hair clip to a bed, fabric to tableware together with the huge array of food stalls selling wonderfully fresh, seasonal produce.

The Cepes are in season along with pumpkins & other squashes

The whole place has a buzz about it and it’s not just the market stalls that are busy, but the shops too. This is a big day for business in general, evidenced by the packed cafés, the queues stretching out of the butcher’s door and people carrying bags out of other shops.

Market day in France is a real draw for everyone to come into the town (or village) not only to do their shopping, but to catch up with friends too. Sat in a cafe with my second coffee I’m surrounded by groups of friends meeting up, chatting & in a few cases drinking a glass of wine (although at 11am it’s still a bit early for me!)

I love the gentle buzz of voices that provide the market day soundtack in Apt

As a child I remember going to the Friday cattle market in my home town & then going into the market hall to buy local produce & other bits. It was always a big day, but sadly (in the passing years) things seem to have changed. The site of the old cattle market is now a housing estate and the market is confined to the space in the hall and it is no longer such a key feature of town life as it was when I was young.

There are still a few gems where market day brings a local town to life, probably my local favourite being the Tuesday market at Hatherleigh, a few miles from where we live, but they seem few and far between now.

Hatherleigh market brings local producers together with more traditional market traders and has a fowl/ small animal auction and a general auction too where you can bud for anything from a tub of old screws to (as Andy did) a wonderful antique lead water-pump.

There’s not many places that you can bid on a ferret! – the small animal / bird auction at Hatherleigh has to be seen!

It has its own character and certainly creates a gentle buzz in the town when it’s on resulting in the car park being filled with cars of people coming in to buy whatever is on offer. The cafes in the small town are busy and it still has the sense of being a bit of an event, but sadly that’s the only one I can think of locally.

Coffee at The George in the town is a regular stop

When I’ve heard people discussing street markets in England I’ve heard some shop-keepers argue against them as they would take trade away from their own businesses. It seems such a shame and apparently contrary to what happens in France.

The streets & shops are always busy on market day

At a time we are seeing our local high streets suffering due to out of town developments and big supermarkets it seems such a shame that we don’t encourage the re-establishment of local market days to re-invigorate our town centres.

It would be lovely to know that I could pop into town on a given day and get the things I need, using it as an opportunity to buy locally grown seasonal food. It isn’t about just the big traders as one of my favourite stalls at Apt is run by a chap selling his own garden produce- you know you have to arrive early to get the best choice! But that’s part of the joy.

It’s worth getting into Apt early for this chap’s homegrown veg – fresh & delicious

So with my groaning bags I’ll head  to the car & back home, having managed to get everything I need without having to head out to the supermarket, whereas back in the U.K. I would probably find it was the other way around.

Post market lunch today – paté, bread, olives & figs all from the market

Luckily there’s a market on locally every day around here so I always have somewhere to go if I can’t wait until next Saturday!

Friday morning market at Bonnieux

Sharing this blog via FarawayFiles #12 on the oregongirlaroundtheworld.com blog

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18 thoughts on “Saturday is market day and I love it!

  1. I do love shopping at regional markets. Those mushrooms look amazing! While I shop everyday here in Denmark, I do mainly hit the little grocery store for it’s round the corner convenience. We do have a Saturday ritual as well where we take a coffee date and head a little further afield, making stops at the specialty shops which seem to be supported enough here to survive which I love. Thanks for sharing – it’s an interesting comparison! Happy New Year and welcome back to #FarawayFiles – we are happy to have you as part of the community! Erin

    • Thanks & Happy New Year to you too – it was all a bit frantic with my jewellery work before Christmas so didn’t have the time to join you, but it’s a bit quieter now, which is good. We do love the markets and the Saturday one in Apt is just wonderful at any time of year, we spent Christmas Eve morning there just stocking up on fresh produce, so much nicer than battling in the aisles of the supermarkets!Supporting local stores is so important whenever possible as that is certainly what keeps our local High Streets and Town Centres thriving.

  2. I love markets and I wish I could spend more mornings walking (and eating) around them. I was a bit surprised by your produce photos (the one with the colorful tomatoes). They have baskets with the ingredients needed to prepare salsa verde, the same ingredients used to prepare tomatillo sauce (a Mexican classic). Didn’t know they had that in France too. #FarawayFiles

    • Thanks – the chap who does these baskets just brings the produce to the Market in Apt from his own garden and just brings what he has each week. He makes up the baskets, which are lovely & great quality, but he is the only one I have seen with the Salsa Verde ingredients – we often see Ratatouille baskets, but not these. Needless to say he’s a regular stall of mine & I can’t wait to be buying from him again next summer. #FarawayFiles

  3. I loved shopping in the market when I lived in France. Taking my baskets and wandering the stalls groaning with fruit vegetables cheeses and breads …. those were amazing days!

    Thanks for reminding me how wonderful they are!

    #farawayfiles

    • Thanks – our time out in France always seems to be moulded around which market is on that day. I love cycling through the valley to L’Isle Sur La Sorgue on a Thursday morning when the midweek market is on, or Coustellet on a Sunday for the wonderful Farmers’ Market. It’s always so nice to arrive in a town when it’s exploded with life – with the benefit of being able to eat such fresh, local produce too! I’m pleased it reminded you of such happy times. #FarawayFiles

  4. Those figs! Those cepes! French markets are the best, I agree. You hit a bit of a nerve with me comparing them to the British markets. It is so hard to find a great produce market in London. Sure there is Borough Market but that has morphed into more of a foodie market with pre made foods. The farmers’ markets are a bit of a joke too. Having searched around a few I noticed the same producers at each market so I was left feeling it was mass produced items masquerading as small run artisan produce. I love the French passion for food, produce and terroir. Inspirational stuff – thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

    • I always feel we have a much healthier lifestyle in France, with the easy availability of good, seasonal fresh fruit & veg being a real bonus! We’re lucky in Devon as we do have a few good small shops supplying local farm produce, but even so it never really feels the same as pottering to a French market & buying what’s on offer that day! Take care & Happy New Year

  5. The French markets are the best, without question. I do so love going around a good food market. We have lots of farmers’ markets near where we live in the UK, with different stalls selling home-made breads, cakes, cheeses and jams but they’re usually extremely expensive. Never mind, yet another excuse to visit France more often! Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

    • Thanks – I find we tend to base our whole week around market days, choosing when to visit particular areas just to coincide with market day. I agree that the farmers’ markets here can be expensive, but thy don’t tend to follow suit in France and there are less of the home-made breads etc there too. Great excuse to get the recipe books out too! #FarawayFiles.

  6. You’re right, it is a shame – I remember the Saturday market in my home town was like this, but not anymore. And the farmers markets are so expensive near us, it’s no wonder we choose the supermarket instead. I love France and Portugal for this. #farawayflies

    • Thanks, it’s such shame that local towns don’t embrace markets in England as much as they do in France. I agree it’s sometimes very hard here to justify spending more at a farmers’ market and so easy to revert to the supermarket – in France that doesn’t seem to be the case and there is much more of a parity between prices, which makes it a very simple choice. Last summer I was buying 3 different freshly cut lettuces from a lady at Apt market for under 2 euros, suppers sorted for the week! Thanks again #FarawayFiles

  7. Those streets really are packed, aren’t they. We do have a twice-weekly market in our town but,as you say, it doesn’t come close to the French ones although the town is busier on those days. We used to have a regular outdoor auction too – that’s sadly gone. But I suppose as a nation we have been seduced by the big supermarkets so have scuppered the markets ourselves.
    #farawayfiles

    • Thanks & I agree I think to some extent we have formed our own destiny over the last 40 years or so…. it is just such a shame as in France you really see how the small town economies are really boosted by the regular markets and #ShopLocal is a key issue at the moment. Needless to say I am looking forward to getting back to doing my shopping in them when I head back out at the end of the month #farawayfiles

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