Shopping locally is one of the great pleasures of a French holiday and Provence has some of the best markets in the whole country.
Here’s my guide to the major markets in Provence, from fish to fresh flowers, from brocante and flea markets to antiques. You’ll discover more in or near where you’re staying (visit the local tourist office for detailed information).
Most markets are in the morning, starting at 7 or 8am and going on until 1pm when the traders pack away their stalls. You’ll find some markets (particularly antiques, bric-a-brac, books etc.) continue into the afternoon. And in summer many towns have an evening market. If there are no hours indicated, then they are 8am to 1pm.
If you don’t know where the market is, ask anybody for le marché (le mar-shay).
By law, price tags must state the origin of all produce. ‘Du pays’ means local, so look out for those products.
What to shop for in the markets of Provence
Lavender and Provence go hand in hand and you’ll find it everywhere in the local markets in all kinds of products. Who hasn’t bought those famous lavender bags to take home?
Marseille soap is world renowned. Check out all the different sizes, colours and perfumes.
Traditional crafts are found in all the main markets. In the run up to Christmas, look for little pottery santons (Christmas crèche figures).
Buy lengths of those famous Provençal textiles. Or find readymade tablecloths, napkins and bags (even Princess Diana had one). One of the best known names is Souleiado which also does mail order.
Food is the main reason most people shop in Provence markets. Fresh fruit and vegetables are piled high on the stalls; breads of every kind are on offer; herbs are tied into little bundles. Follow your nose to the cheese vans. Buy everything for a picnic, or if you’re in a self-catering apartment, shop for the ingredients for your meals.
Olive oil comes in pretty bottles or economically sensible litre cans (which you can use as vases or plant pots after the olive oil has been used up). If you’re in Provence make sure you visit one of the mills to see how this precious commodity is made.
Top Markets in Provence
Provence markets in Bouches-du-Rhône
The main markets are in the old town where they fill the streets. Peak days like many of the Provence markets are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Food Market: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday on Place des Prêcheurs for top food and fish. Daily on Place Richelme.
Flower market: Daily on Place de la Mairie.
Antiques and Flea market: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday on Cours Mirabeau.
Clothing market: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday on Cours Mirabeau for good fashion and textiles.
The Roman town of Arles has good, large markets which have been going since King Henri III granted permission in 1584. He allowed everything from the Orient, Arabia, Assyria and Arles. Today there are around 300 stalls on Wednesday and 450 on Saturday.
General market with everything from food to clothes, textiles and crafts: Wednesday on Boulevard Émile-Combes. Saturday on Les boulevards des Lices, Georges-Clemenceau and Émile-Combes.
Brocante market: 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month, 8am-5.30pm on the Boulevard des Lices.
Local farmers market: May to October on Place Voltaire from 5pm to 8pm.
As befits the major city of Marseille, there are markets aplenty. And for that whiff of authenticity, start off at the fish market.
Fish market (Le Marché de la Criée): Daily on the Old Port.
Food market: Known as La Canebière or Noailles, this is the place for exotic fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs with many stalls run by the local African and Asian community. It’s busy, noisy and colourful. Monday to Saturday 8am-7pm.
General market: Le Marché du Prado has everything from food to clothes, toys to books. It’s one of the biggest in France. Between Places Castellane and Périer. Monday to Saturday.
General Market: Le Marché de Castellane has much the same and is an extension of the Prado. Monday to Saturday.
Local product market: Wednesday at Le Cours Julien
Sunday: Stamp market
2nd Saturday of the month: Second-hand book market
3rd Sunday of the month: Brocante market.
Artisan and Bio market: Good market with local produce. Tuesday and Saturday in Place Léon Blum.
Flea market: Best known in Marseille and the surrounding the area and full of delightful surprises of just about everything. It’s more than a market with a covered area as well as outside stalls. Covered market is open daily except Monday 8.30am-7.30pm. The flea market is open Saturday and Sunday 7.30am-2pm.
Also look out for the Christmas santons market. It’s been selling those pottery nativity figures since 1803.
Provence markets in the Vaucluse
The beautiful city of Avignon with its spectacular Pope’s Palace is the gateway to Provence. So expect top quality fruit and vegetables in its Provence markets.
Food market: Avignon’s covered market has around 40 stall holders selling meat, herbs, spices and more. Les Halles covered market is at Place Pie. Open daily except Monday 6am-2pm. Every Saturday there’s a free cookery demonstration by a local chef.
General market: Thursday on Place Charles David.
Local farmers market: Monday April 4 to September 26, 2021 from 4pm to 7pm on the Allées de l’Oulle.
Brocante market: Sunday morning on Place des Carmes.
The delightful market town has one of the largest markets in France.
Food market: Daily except Mondays at the Marché gare.
Food market: Friday in rue de Carpentras.
Puces-Brocante (flea market): Sunday in Parking des Platanes (Av. Jean-Jaurès). Good market, step above a vide grenier but not quite a brocante! 10am-4pm.
Truffle market: The truffle market runs from November to March on Fridays on pl. Aristide Briand, 8am to noon. There’s also a summer truffle market.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is best known as France’s most prestigious antiques town. It’s to antiques what Hay-on-Wye in England is to books. But they also have to eat so check out the excellent markets.
Regional produce market: Thursday mornings from 9am to 12.30pm around the church.
Provençal market: Sunday 8am to 2pm throughout the city and along the river.
Floating market: 1st Sunday of August when boats go between the banks, selling food, wine and more.
Brocante market: Sunday 8am to 6pm along the Avenue 4 Hostages.
There are also two famous weekend markets, over the Easter weekend, and in mid-August.
This former important Roman town has four main markets.
General market: Daily from 7am to 3pm in the centre of town.
General market: Saturday Place François Cevert.
Summer market: Thursday in Place François Cevert.
Provençal market: Tuesday combining local farmers’ produce alongside furniture and Provence items such as linen, oils, soaps, fabrics and more.
Provence markets in the Luberon
General market: Apt has the largest market in the Luberon. It’s only on a Saturday morning but has everything you could possibly want, and a few things you didn’t even know about. Comprehensive selection of fruit, vegetables, food and flowers. It’s all around the place de la Bouquerie and into the neigbouring street up to le cours Lauze de Perret.
Farmers market: Tuesday evening, April to December as a farmer’s market every Tuesday evening, from April to December, in the Cours Lauze de Perret.
Ceramics market: Mid August for an excellent selection of local pottery.
Provence markets in the Var
This pretty small village near the Verdon gorges comes alive on market days.
General market: Wednesdays and Saturdays with its markets held under the plane trees in Place de la Mairie.
The winter black truffle market is one of the biggest in France. Held from end of November to beginning of March every Thursday 9.30am-noon. Find out more about truffles at the Maison de la Truffe.
General market: Sunday and Wednesday in the main square. It’s not as extensive as some of the others, but Salernes is known for its tiles and pottery so visit some of the manufacturers here. There’s also an excellent museum, Terra Rossa that is a must for all ceramic enthusiasts.
Sanary-sur-mer has some of the prettiest markets in France.
Daily markets including the fish market but the biggest is the Wednesday morning general market. Over 300 stalls under the plane trees in the alle d’Estienne d’Orves and down in the port on the quai Charles de Gaulle.
There’s plenty going on in the markets in St Trop as you’d expect from this lively, chic resort.
General market: Huge range of food plus fashion at this popular market. Tuesday and Saturday. Place des Lices.
La Grande Braderie de Saint Tropez. In late October many of the boutiques take their clothes out onto racks in the streets and sell them off at bargain prices. Friday 29 October to Monday 1 November 2021 from 9am to 7pm.
Summer & Night Markets – Marche Nocturne: During the holiday season the night markets take over the street in the towns around St Tropez. In July and August look out for Ramatuelle Night Market, La Faviere Night Market in Bormes-les-Mimosas and La Croix-Valmer Night Market. They are open from 5pm to 7pm to midnight.
Toulon isn’t the most popular town in the Var for tourists but on market days the streets fill up with stalls and people.
Fruit, vegetables and textiles: daily except Mondays at Cours Lafayette, Rue Paul Lendrin, Place Louis Blanc, Rue de Lorgues and Place Paul Comte.
Local farmers’ market: Tuesday, Friday, Saturday on Rue Paul Lendrin
Mourillon market for fruit & veg, fish, local cheeses and textile. Daily except Monday: Place Emile Claude & Place Monseigneur Deydier
General market: Daily except Monday in the Place Martin Bidouré
Provence markets in the Alpes-Maritimes
You can’t miss the historic covered market that fills the Cours Masséna down by the port.
Food market: Here you’ll find everything you could want. The stalls running around the two outer sides are for professional growers and traders. People with smallholdings and large gardens occupy the stalls running down the middle. Daily June 1 to Sep 1. Other months daily except Mondays.
Craft market: This market takes over the Cours Masséna in the afternoons from 3pm after the food and vegetable market is cleared away.
Mid-June to end of September Tuesday to Sunday. October to mid-June: Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Clothing market: This is worth a browse; you’ll find some pretty ordinary items but there are good stalls with good clothes to seek out.
Tuesday, Saturday: Place Amiral Barnaud
Thursday: Boulevard Albert 1er and Place Amiral Barnaud.
Brocante market: The second-hand market often has some very good buys, though you’ll have to search for the bargains. Antiques, china, glass, books, posters, post cards, jewellery and more.
Thursday, Saturday: Place Audiberti. Saturday: Place De Gaulle and Boulevard d’Aguillon.
There are plenty of interesting markets in Cannes which is something of a shopping destination.
Covered markets: There are three main covered markets in Cannes:
Forville (rue Gazagnaire close to the bus station): Flowers, fruit and veg, plus small shops for household goods. Open daily except Mondays.
Gambetta (place Gambetta): Fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese etc. plus clothes, shoes, jewellery and leather goods.
La Bocca (on bus lines 1, 2 and 20): General food market daily except Monday. Saturday’s market which is huge covering all foods, plus clothes etc. closes at 12.30pm.
Antiques and brocante market: Mondays at Forville 8am-6pm and La Bocca Thursdays 8am-12.30pm.
Nice really is a draw for market lovers. The best known and most popular is in the Cours Saleya in the Old Town designated a ‘Special Market’ by the National Council for the Culinary Arts.
Cours Saleya fruit and vegetable market. Daily except Mondays, from 6am to 1.30pm.
Running right next to the fruit and vegetables is the flower market, held every day except Mondays and Sunday afternoons from 6am to 5.30pm.
The Brocante market takes over the Cours Saleya when the produce market is closed. Find those second-hand bargains every Monday from 7.30am to 6pm. If you miss that, try the place Garibaldi on the third Saturday of every month from 7am to 6pm.
Evening Craft market: Art, ceramics and jewellery from local crafts people. Mid May to mid September daily except Monday 6pm to midnight.
Fish Market: With a good variety of fish it’s on Place Jacques Toja daily except Monday from 6am to 1pm.
At the Place du Palais de Justice:
Old, rare edition and used books: 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month
Artistic and craft products: The 2nd Saturday of the month
Post cards, old discs and newspapers: 4th Saturday of the month.
Winter hours for all these markets: 7am-5pm; Summer hours 7am-7pm.