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The markets in France are fabulous, free entertainment, good for shopping and for people watching. Sit in one of the cafes next to a market and while away the morning. Provence has probably the best markets in France. Most open-air markets are farmers markets, where you can buy vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat and poultry, sausages, spices, candied fruits, nougat and flowers. Larger ones have clothing, shoes, linens, pottery, records, old books and bric a brac.

Most villages have them but here are some of our favourites:

Aix en Provence. The markets, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are well integrated into this historical and beautiful town, great place to sit and people watch. (Also a great town for shopping, eating and art, a day trip!)

Carpentras. Friday mornings. Very close, and one of the largest in France, in existence since 1155. Huge, bustling and wonderful.

Bedoin. Monday morning market, alive with music bars, good food, & bric a brac.

Mormoiron. This is a Sunday morning market which is very small but full of local produce.

Sault. This Wednesday morning market is large and well worth visiting. The village is in the centre of the lavender growing region of Provence and remains a fine example of a traditional French provincial market.

Isle sur La Sorgue. Visit this famous Sunday morning market with over 300 antique shops and many, many brocantes. It is a pretty town with its streets meandering along the river edge.

Vaison-la-Romaine. This wonderful town, half medieval and half Roman, has a huge Tuesday morning market, one of the best places to shop for bric a brac.

Lourmarin. Not to be missed on a Friday morning, even if a little further away. This is a very chic market in a beautiful village.

St Remy de Provence. Wednesday morning market in this delightful town of art, antiques and boutiques.

Villeneuve les Avignon. Get up early on a Saturday morning for this wonderful brocante market. Breakfast on oysters and wine or hot chocolate and croissants with the locals. We have found many wonderful things here for our houses, but beware; an English van often turns up early to bag all the bargains before speeding back to the U.K.