Belle Provence Travels

A South of France Blog

Greetings dear readers and friends. Well, we’re having lovely weather here this September, with a little bit of rain coming our way today. It’s nice to have a cool-down after the hot summer months, and we’re delighted to still have the sun out but with milder temperatures. It’s a great month to visit the south.

We were equally delighted to have a chance to visit the Aix-en-Provence market this past Saturday. And since there are several markets in Aix, the one we visited is on Place Richelme – a stone’s throw from the city’s town hall (l’Hôtel de Ville) and from another must-do stop on any visit to Aix: the outdoor flower market.

Some of the prettiest stands at the market.

The market on Place Richelme is arguably the best-known in Aix. There is even one fruit and vegetable stand (which somehow always manages to have fresh-cut sunflowers almost all year-round) which has made it into magazine and online travel articles featuring the top spots to visit in the city.

And what a beautiful market it is…

Since we’re on the tail-end of the high season for travel, we had a fair amount of tourists with us as we hit up the market stalls. Heck, we’re mostly tourist ourselves. Even though we’ve visited several times, walking up to the market always catches me by surprise – there’s so much to take in. You’ve got the fruit and veggie stands, folks peddling all forms of lavender (soaps, oils, sachets, etc), calisson sellers (Aix’s famous almond / orange flower cookies), stands featuring heaping loaves of bread (organic and otherwise), goat cheese, fresh seafood… well, the list goes on and on.

Lavender stand at the corner of the market.

It’s so pretty and so full of life, that I tend to make the same moves each visit… walk around in circles, oohing and aahing at what’s on sale and furiously snapping photos. I feel like I don’t want to miss a minute of the experience.

And then it’s off to the neighboring flower market to ooh and aah all over again.

Fougasse bread, speciality of the south.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind when visiting the market.

As with most markets in Provence, it’s a good idea to arrive early.

This market is open every day, but weekends are of course the busiest times. If you can swing it, try to arrive by 9am to beat the crowds.

The electric bus in Aix will take you directly to the market.

Have you seen this bus tut-tutting along the narrow streets of Aix? I say “seen” because you certainly haven’t heard it. I can’t count the number of times that this little wagon has been behind us in Aix, trying to pass by & we catch it almost at our heels (!). On Saturday, we discovered that the bus, thanks to its small size, can drop you right at the corner of the market- very helpful for weary travelers.

Check your prices.

The fruit and veg prices at the market seem very fair – along with most other items that we saw. I did spy some more “touristy” souvenirs that seemed a tad overpriced. There are several souvenir shops past the clock-tower of the Hôtel de Ville that have good deals. When in doubt, have a look a bit further afield.

Kick up your feet at one of the local cafés.

You can take a load off and also take in some great people watching at any of the cafés and small bistros that surround the market. If you find it’s too crowded, there’s a larger sitting area (patio style) at the upper corner of the flower market.

A visit to the flower market is one of the highlights of the day.

The Aix flower market is simply gorgeous. Like a pinch-me-is-this-real kind of pretty. It’s a good thing that I don’t live in Aix or I’d probably spend a fortune there.

Ooh la la… the Aix flower market.

-Don’t forget a stop at Maison Riederer Pâtisserie.

It was a sad day indeed when delicious Maison Riederer Pâtisserie closed down on Cours Mirabeau (Aix’s “main street”), so we were thrilled to discover that it has re-opened again not far from the market. Sandwiched between the food and the flower market, you can’t beat a stop for a pastry or two at this Aix-en-Provence institution.

Not to-be-missed… Maison Riederer Pâtisserie.
How can you have just one?

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and above all…. bon voyage!