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My Produce Aisle

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Another repeat from the past – this was posted on Halloween 2011 the first time, so we’re in a different season. But it’s just as awesome in the spring. My group of ladies has arrived in Provence. Today was arriving on the continent and getting settled in the apartments, so no pix of us out and about yet. Tomorrow we start the day in this market. Back to the original post:

For this post I do feel like I’m coming across as gloating but hey, it’s a beautiful place to buy your vegetables so I’m going to share.

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I’m so lucky to be able to come here.  It’s the place Richelme in Aix, and I live a few blocks away.  This morning (and what a beautiful morning) I brought my bike and filled my bike basket with wonderful salad fixings.

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Got some goat cheese from Manosque.

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The marché in Place Richelme has been going since the 14th century.  These days it’s every day, even Sunday, rare for a French market. 

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Here’s a picture I got from the web.  Today there were less vendors as usual, has to be due to the long holiday weekend – it’s All Saint’s Day tomorrow and, lots of commerces in France are closed down.

Tomorrow friends are coming into Marseille on a cruise ship.  I’ll bring them to this market and the bigger market that takes place in Aix on Tuesdays.  Then off to Les Baux de Provence for olive oil tasting at Castellas (supplier to Williams Sonoma)  and a visit to St. Rémy.

A bientot!

Hi All, I’m dipping back in time to a post I wrote four years ago. The muguet sellers are out in full force this morning, again, as they always were and will be every May Day.

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Buy some muguet.

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We happen to be May Day today, which means a paid day off for all workers in France (…and let me tell you they are very serious about the day off, I can’t find a grocery store open anywhere), and the sweet custom of offering Lily of the Valley to friends and family.

So today’s tip is if you happen to be going to market in France on May 1 be sure to get yourself a brin de muguet (sprig of Lily of the Valley) and give it to your travel buddy or anyone you have warmed to during your stay in France.  It is meant to bring good luck and happiness to the recipient.  Offer it to yourself, too, and let the delicate and beautifully scented little bells fill your hotel room with their essence.

The custom of giving muguet to your entourage dates to 1561 when Charles IX, king of France, offered it as a symbol of happiness. (In fact it’s believed that the custom goes back many centuries before Charles IX made it de rigueur.) Not until about a hundred years ago, though, was it associated with Labor Day in France.  1936 saw the sale on the streets of Lily of the Valley become a French custom, in celebration of the passage of legislation for paid vacations for all employees in France. The French government tolerates unathorized vendors to sell these flowers on May 1 only.  The custom seems to be sprouting up all over (oooh pun!) as I have seen our village go from one or two stands to the nearly ten stands I saw this morning.  People generally put up their home made stands in front of bakeries and on street corners.  I saw three competing stands on a corner of a small neighboring village this morning. 

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Here’s a girl and her stand in Aix in front of a bakery, texting.  They all text these days. Young ‘uns.

Bonus tip: be sure to look at the signs when you buy some of that deeelicious cheese.  Look at the price per kilo and do a rough calculation of what that small slice will really cost you.  Even after living in France for years, I got stuck with a bill of about $50 for truly what was a few ounces of cheese.  My stepmom and I were having such a great time at the outdoor market in Aix en Provence that we weren’t paying attention to the piddly signs.  It was the Corsican stuff which had been aged.  Great cheese but didn’t taste as good after I paid the bill.

Happy May Day, and I hope reading this post brings you good luck and happiness.

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