Le Marché Provençal
Le Marché Provençal is to Antibes what a kitchen is to a home; its heart. I fell in love with this market place from the start. It was here, on our first day in Antibes, jet lagged and overwhelmed, that we sat sipping rosé and slurping back mussels steamed in a broth of white wine, cream, and tarragon. The morning food stalls had already come and gone for the day and, by the time we arrived, the restaurants had set up tables in the market place for lunch service.
The market was only five minutes from our apartment and walking through the market in the mornings became part of our daily routine. One morning we discovered baby artichokes had just come into season; they could be found everywhere. After purchasing a few, we were taught how to trim and thinly slice the artichokes for a simple raw salad -- dressed only with olive oil and sea salt. On other visits, we sampled spreads in a variety of colors made from olives and artichokes, we tasted slices of paper-thin charcuterie, and nibbled on all sorts of local cheeses. Fresh flowers and provençal herbs and spices were always available, the combination of their aromas adding to the ambiance.
We discovered that the food stalls and what produce is available changes depends on the day of the week, making our trip to the market a little different each time.
Le Marché Provençal's space is used for several different purposes; always in the mornings it is a produce and food market, then in the afternoons you might find artisans selling crafts such as paintings, sculptures, or photographs. The restaurants regularly use part of the market's covered area for lunch and dinner service, creating a gathering place for families and friends to meet and share news of their day's events. One evening there was even a seven piece band putting out some serious jazz for patrons at the restaurants.
In addition to Le Marché Provençal, Antibes has other markets worth checking out. Located in different areas of the town and depending on the day, you can find clothing, craft and flea markets taking place.
Back when I was working full-time and raising kids, I was always planning out meals for the upcoming week, writing out lists, and making my weekly trip to an oversized grocery store. Efficient yes, but since I've starting traveling and shopping at markets like Le Marché Provençal in Antibes or the Marché des Capucins in Bordeaux, I am a bit jealous of the European way of life. How sweet it would be to have a market I could walk to, where I would pick up fruits and vegetables that had just come into season; maybe I would cook them for dinner that evening, or if I see a neighbor, maybe we'll stop and share a pot of mussels and a bottle of rosé.
There is another reason that Le Marché Provençal holds a special place in my memories. While walking through the market we found the Absinthe Bar, but tales of the Absinthe Bar will have to wait.