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5 November 2012

Provencal market

28th October 2012

This morning we went back into Aix-en-Provence for breakfast and a little stroll around. Still very blustery, but no longer likely to throw Citroëns at us. Aix is definitely a handsome city but I guess the towns and cities of France are beginning to blur somewhat together now: narrow streets, tall buildings of grey stone, autumn trees, dog poo, shops and restaurants with unpredictable and random opening hours. That said, I think Aix is perhaps among the best of them.

The find of the morning was stumbling upon a Sunday market in progress. There are some lovely markets in England, indeed where we live in Ludlow must be one of the few towns left that holds a market four days a week. But no market in England resembles a French provincial market. There were tables heaving with veg, both the sunny crops of courgettes and aubergines that are coming to an end alongside the wintery harvest of leek, celeriac and all manner of squashes. Most seasonal of all, a row of tables

laden with heaps of wild mushrooms. Hundreds of cèpes each big as a fist, an orange tumble of girolles, a matching tumble of black trumpets, and a heap of cauliflower fungi looking like they had been hauled up from a coral reef.

Then there’s the cheese stalls, plenty of fresh local goat cheese and plenty of wonders brought in from all corners of France. Artisan bread makers. And a table laid out with thick slabs of salt-crusted dried cod. Mouth-watering, but I wasn’t sure about leaving it in the car for a week. I did buy a half-kilo of confit lemons, twice the size and a third of the price of the jars I buy at home.

I must be quite a keen amateur cook after all, because just wandering the market made me want to stop in Aix on the spot and rent an apartment for a week, just so I could cook up all this food.

But we must go on. Aiming for the Luberon next, a lovely valley full of the very quintessential Provencal villages.

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