For the Love of France

This is constant reminder to me to slow down, enjoy food, enjoy friends, enjoy scenery and most importantly enjoy Provence.


This hasn’t been a good week for France and Francophiles around the world with the loss of literary icon and avowed Francophile Peter Mayle and ‘the Pope of french cuisine’ Paul Bocuse. Peter Mayle may be most famous for a Year in Provence, his memoir of moving to Provence from England in the late 80s but he wrote many other famous novels that celebrated not only Provence,


but French culture and the way of life. He also wrote the Good Year, a novel that was made into a movie by his neighbour Ridley Scott. My dad and I watch this movie every chance we get. Not because it is a great movie but because the scenery is stunning and the implication is clear, Provence encourages you to slow down and enjoy your life. Paul Bocuse is incredibly famous and revered for his French food. His restaurant L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges is famous for gaining its 3rd Michelin star in 1965 and keeping it every since (over 52 years) and for founding the Bocuse D’Or,  often refereed to as the world culinary Olympics, a cooking competition that takes place in Lyon every 2 years.

It is not just their accomplishments that have left me feeling sad this week but rather the way they both championed French food, culture and way of life. Peter Mayle in particular for me was instrumental in celebrating French, rather Provencal life. His books could easily transport you to Provence, you could almost smell the lavender, see the cafes, taste the wine and food and feel the sunshine. It was a constant reminder for me to slow down, enjoy my food, enjoy my friends and enjoy my life

Market in L’ile Sur La Sorgue

. I have to admit this is much easier when I travel, especially to Provence. It would be easy to say, of course it is easier when you travel, you are on vacation. That said, Provence has enjoyment, love of life and time built into the culture. Businesses close in the early afternoon for either long lunches or a nap, the patisseries open early in the morning for french bread and pastries, the markets are full of the wonderful scents of fresh fruit, olives, tomatoes. Lunches are not the quick sandwich at a desk I am used to here but rather often 3 courses with wine on a patio. There is not talk of carbs, calories,  fat etc.. Just enjoyment of fresh food that is also freshly prepared. This isn’t to say fast food or calories counting doesn’t exist in Provence, it just isn’t the norm. My favourite memories of Provence are exactly what Peter Mayle describes sitting on the terrace of Le Jardin in Gordes, enjoying a fabulous salad at L’Orangeraie in the Ile de Porquerolles, or enjoying the fabulous wine and charcuterie at Restaurant l’Instant in Le Lavandou , attending the weekly market in l’Ile Sur La Sorgue or tasting wine anywhere and everywhere. I love Provence not only for its beauty and culture but the reminder to slow down and enjoy what life has to offer.

Paul Bocuse on the other hand was based in France’s gastronomic capital Lyon. Though I haven’t eaten at his restaurant, reading about him, his food and watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode where he eats with Paul Bocuse. Paul Bocuse inspired me to try new dishes, not to be afraid of unusual ingredients, appreciate classic cooking and ignore food trends. Rather to eat what you want and appreciate it for the food rather than because it is trendy (looking at you kale, which I still hate). In short, Paul Bocuse inspired me to enjoy food for foods sake and understand the importance of quality ingredients. I would argue the use of quality ingredients is very prevalent in France.

Peter Mayle wrote in a Year in Provence

“And, as for the oil, it is a masterpiece. You’ll see.”Before dinner that night, we tested it, dripping it onto slices of bread that had been rubbed with the flesh of tomatoes. It was like eating sunshine.”

This quote in all its simplicity constant reminder to me to slow down, enjoy food, enjoy friends, enjoy scenery and most importantly enjoy Provence.

Market to Market to buy a ….

Sure in my case that is mostly wine stores an vineyards but I also do buy other items, for instance one time I bought scotch and another time whiskey.

One of my favourite things about travel is shopping. Not for touristy items and certainly not at malls but at places you can get unique items that capture the the spirit of he town/city/village/country you are visiting. Sure in my case that is mostly wine stores an vineyards but I also do buy other items, for instance one time I bought scotch and another time whiskey. All joking aside, I do love buying regional items whether it be food, clothing, soap, jewelry ect… My visa card loves it too! My bank account? Maybe not. But if you are like me and do like to shop for specialty or regional goods, why not check out the local markets? It is fun, food is amazing and you will find something unique! Here are my top picks for my favourite markets ( though it isn’t in my top 10 a shout out to the markets in Cameroon!)

10. Esperaza France- Just south of Limoux in the Langedoc wine region is Esperaza. Esperaza is known for being a site for pilgrims on their way to Spain through the mountains, hat making, and dinosaur fossils. I however went for the market and I wasn’t disappointed. Esperaza has a sizable market for the own of roughly 2000. The market is busy but not crowed, making it easy to navigate. Full of fresh fruit (delicious!!!! and super refreshing on a hot day) and cheeses, the market did indeed offer hats (you bet I bought one). clothing and soaps. It is definitely worth checking out and he drive to Esperaza is beautiful.

9. Leadenhall Market in London. Though more familiar to Harry Potter fans as the setting for Diagon Alley, Leadenhall is indeed a functioning market and has been since the 14th century where it was predominantly a meat market. Today you will find additional shops and pubs.Cheese at Leadenhall provides cheese and wine tasting with cheeses and wines from around he world.  They know their cheese and the wines and is simply one of my favourite tastings to date. The cheese selection is amazing. After you are done with all that cheese and wine stop at one of the beautiful pubs for a quick pint! and then walk it off.

8. Saskatoon Farmers Market. Saskatoon like many Canadian prairie cities is often underrated. It has a vibrant culinary scene, great hat shopping (sensing a theme?) and one of the best farmers markets. Saskatoon’s market is full of regional goods, prairie specialties (perogies, I know a Polish/Ukrainian specialty but hey the prairie culture loves perogies) and amazing fruits and vegetables including the Saskatoon berry.

7. Cadanet France. tucked away in the Luberon in Provence. Cadanet is a small village with a charming market. the market and parking are easily accessible.thumbnail_IMG_6383 Olives a plenty, lavender products galore, shoes, and produce. Pretty much everything including Laguiole knives and wine openers. Bonus, it boasts a beautiful village church.

6. Chelsea Market New York City. You won’ be at a loss for shopping in New York but Chelsea market, a former cookie factory host some unique designers and products. I bought a fair bit of clothing in the Chelsea market but sadly not a dress that had the sleeves attached the dress itself with holes cut out of the arms and random zippers. I loved it but it didn’t fit. @benton8tor? 4.jpgNot so much, later on in Times Square, someone in a Batman costume passed us, @benton8tor quipped ‘look they are wearing your dress. side note, don’t shop or ea in Times Square but definitely check out Chelsea market.

5. Camden Market London. I have already done a whole post about Camden but suffice it to say, it should not be missed. Full of interesting dresses, shoes, jewelry, food cartIMG_0697s you name it. And of course hats. Despite is recent fire, Camden Market is still open for business and despite the crowds, it is well worth the visit.

4. Marche du Vieux-Port Quebec City. One of my favourite markets ever. Located in lower town, this covered market boasts everything from the Ubiquitous maple syrup to foie gras.  Local produce is widely available. There are specialty items such as jewelry, purses ec.. but my favorite is the wine products from Quebec’s under appreciated wine industry. It is also a great spot to but local liqueurs and beer.

3. Viktualienmart- Munich- Located in Munich’s central square, his food market is legendary. Be sure to try a pretzel and sop to buy some local specialties, it is a great showcase for Bavarian food. Also Munich’s side streets offer one of a kind clothing shops with a distinct identity. I bought many clothes here and loved it. Sadly a did not buy a pai of silver lame sandals/knee high socks that @benton8tor claimed made me look like a reject from an Abba video and were distinctly hideous. @benton8tor has no fashion sense obviously bu 35 euros was too much to pay for socks, even if they claimed to be sandals.

2. Beaune France. The heart of Burgundy’s amazing food and wine culture, Beaune is host to one of the best markets ever. If you like usual products or have an inner gourmet, his is the market for you.Europe June 2010 362 Complete with spices, meats, sauces, and wine, don’t miss this market. They also have locally produced items like clothing ect.. Also after the market you can enjoy wine at the marche au vins or food at any one of the amazing Burgundian restaurants.

  1. L’Isle Sur La Sorgue- France. My favourite market and it is a busy one so go early. tons of local produce , goods and wines you can easily spend hours here. I bought a beautiful silk dress, goats cheese, tomatoes, wine, soap and tea towels so it offers a varied selection. Afterwards have a drink at one of the many cafes lining said river or check out the antiques market full of luxurious French treasures that I cant afford but are beautiful to see.

Honorable mentions to Bandol market in France, beautiful, beachside and delicious. Halifax’s market is equally amazing so check them out.Markets are one of my favourite things to see when traveling, so if you are ready to spend or really just want to absorb it all, check out a market!