During our “mini-break” to beautiful Isle-sur-la-Sorgue we found ourselves quite overwhelmed with the number of villages to visit and all the things to see (and taste) in the Vaucluse. A stop-over in Avignon was a definite must, but after a pop-in at the Papal Palace, how best to organize our time – a mad dash to visit the Roman ruins in Vaison-la-Romaine, take in the cool waters of Foutaine de Vaucluse, or simply while away the morning at a local market.
Well, since we’re more whiling-away kind of folks, we opted for a morning tour of the Carpentras – with an addition of lunch at Chez Serge thanks to a glowing recommendation by Our House in Provence.
The Carpentras’ market it should be said, it a sprawling, twisty, and very crowded affair. This is by far the largest Provençal market I’ve ever been to and it spills from the inner village streets onto a massive parking lot – albeit with a pretty amazing view of Mont Ventoux.
The market takes place on Friday mornings and if there was ever a time to be an early riser, this is it. Unfortunately, we lingered a little too long over our cafés & croissants and arrived around 10am… and then spent the next 45mins fighting the good fight for a parking spot. And trust me, these Provençales are pretty crafty in their parking maneuvers on market day – if you’ve ever seen folks removing roadblocks or parking on inclines that look type-cast for the next Die Hard movie you may or may not have been at the Carpentras’ market. Yes, arriving early is good, very very good.
In all honesty, the Carpentras’ market wasn’t one of the highlights of our trip because we found it a bit too crowded, with an overwhelming amount of stands & stalls. It definitely merits a return trip and we really appreciated touring the local producers and discovering some Provençal handcrafts that I’ve yet to see at other markets.
The real highpoint of the day though was lunch at Chez Serge – just a quick turn off the main market, Chez Serge is a petit resto full of ambiance and charm. Although it should be noted that most diners are not coming just for a sunny afternoon spent on the chic terrace. They are in fact lining up for Chez Serge’s famous “truffle menu”. Yes, a menu where each course features a truffle dish – just makes me feel all warm & tingly inside. And not to worry if you happen upon the resto in oh, say July or August. Chef Serge has you covered with a summer truffle menu. More tingles.
And since the last time I checked, my winning numbers for Euro Millions had yet to hit, we opted for a pared-down version of the full truffle menu – namely an omelette stuffed (& generously topped) with truffles. Oh, the magic.
The historic center of town.
Friday mornings, until the early afternoon.
The well-organized Carpentras’ tourist office is just up the street from Chez Serge and offers information about points of interest, local wine tours, and visits to regional food producers.Chez Serge – Restaurant 90 Rue Cottier 84200 Carpentras Tel: 04 90 63 21 24