Saturday shopping in Arles

The sky at home is (yet again) drippy and dark, so I’m turning to my archives for some sunshine.

Esteban and I spent a few days in Arles last year. Because we’re both history buffs, we were keen to see the Roman ruins and the well-preserved medieval city.

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But mostly we came for the Provençal sun — and the bright colors it inspires. Those were on display at the huge Saturday market , which fills the length of the Boulevard des Lices every week.

The market has two sections: The first, on the eastern end of the boulevard, features durable goods from purses to pots and pants. We didn’t need upholstery fabric by the yard, however, so we kept our visit short.

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The other half of the market, on the western end of town, is all about flowers and food.

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I loved watching the locals interact with the vendors. Many knew each other, and shopping seemed to be as much a social occasion as a weekly errand.

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I especially loved the friendly butcher who pressed me into service as a (terrible) translator for some German tourists — although I found it a bit unnerving that he punctuated his conversation with a large knife.

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Still, his gourmet sausages were delicious. He told me the cattle were raised locally and gave me precise directions to the farm — you know, in case I wanted to visit the herd.

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There were dozens of other specialty booths, from pottery to spices and greens.

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My favorite booths featured the local specialties — such as these regional cheeses spiced with basil and pimento. When the shopkeeper asked for my order, I almost said “One of everything, please.”

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But sun-kissed Provence is most famous for its produce — and on that score, the market did not disappoint.

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I’m slowly sifting through the rest of my photos from Arles, so I’ll be back with more soon. (Especially if this dreary weather continues. Sigh.)


  1. This is perfect for this dark Sunday morning. My favorite is the bike photo.

    • I’m glad these brought a bit of sunshine to your day, too. Sorry I can’t do much about the wet-collie smell, though. 🙂 Thank you as always for stopping by!

    • Me too, Tom! It occurred to me this morning that’s part of the reason I take photos when I travel: In a sense, they let me take the trip all over again every time I look at them. Cheers to you, and hope you’re having a great weekend.

  2. Great post Heide. We’re off to Toulon next weekend and it will be a long weekend. The wife is singing in a choir and the whole group will be on a tour in Toulon, Ste Maxime and Marseille, delivering concerts, I hope the light will be beautiful too. I saw your dry sausages and they looked really good. The cheeses I must admit I’d never seen the likes and God knows I’ve seen different kinds. I suppose the green one is what the Moon is made of. Wallace would certainly approve 😉

    • I’m so eager to hear/read about your trip to Toulon! If Wikipedia is correct, it’s pretty much heaven on earth — fingers crossed that the weather and light will cooperate! And thanks for your chuckle-inducing comment about the cheese. Yes … I do believe Wallace would approve most enthusiastically! Ha ha!

      • Wallace is a nice chap 🙂

        I’m still working on the Toulon trip. I was pleasantly surprised. To me Toulon was mostly a) a garrison town b) home to the French Navy c) and to one our greatest disasters in History in 1942 when Darlan hesitated and finally ordered the Navy to sink all ships so that neither the Germans nor the Brits would have it. Fortunately, 5 brave soldiers – men of honour – led their submarines out of the port. One of them was sunk, the last four surrendered to the British Navy. Dark years and we are still coming to terms with that.

        But it appears the area was also home to the landing by our allies in 1944 and although much of the town has been destroyed for obvious reasons, much is still there and it’s a much pleasanter town than I thought it would be in the first place. Still working on my pictures, you’ll find some here:

        PS: your blog is hugely successful. I was looking forward to a sequel to your Arles story. When is it coming?

        • Did you see that Peter Sallis — who voiced Wallace and Gromit — died today? What sad news … on top of the endless stream of sad news we’ve had lately.

          But what an interesting glimpse you’ve provided of Toulon, Yann. I’m glad that in spite of the dark history and wartime destruction you still found much of interest there. (No surprise, of course, because a person who approaches the world with wonder will tend to find wonder wherever he goes.) And what a treat to browse through your Flickr albums a bit! You have a really marvelous eye — you see things from such wonderfully unexpected perspectives. I expect to be back often in search of inspiration. (Heck, maybe I’ll even rejoin Flickr so I can follow you.)

          Speaking of following … thanks for your kind PS. I have no idea who most of my followers are, or how they landed here. The big number is nice for the ego, of course, but what really keeps me going is the real-life friendships I’ve made around the world with wonderful people like you. I say that in all sincerity!

          Just as I promise in all sincerity that I’ll be back soon with more of Arles. I’ve been desperately busy at work but soon it shall pass. Or I will die at my desk. Whichever comes first, ha ha. À très bientôt !

    • Thank you, Gerri! It was almost as fun to revisit them on a dreary day as it was to be there the first time. 🙂

  3. Your pictures are always so stunning! And I love that you reverted back to your trip for some sunshine. I do that all the time when I need to escape dreary weather. I hope you had an amazing weekend and a great week ahead!💗

    • You are so kind. Thank you! You’ve really made my day with your comment — and also with the reassurance that it’s not weird to escape into my old photos. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead too! xx

  4. I love markets, I could spend hours strolling around stalls! Love the colours, the scents and even the shouts from the vendors!!! Your post made me want to visit Arles. 😉

    • Ah! How could I have forgotten the vendors’ shouts?

      If you have the chance, I highly recommend a visit to Arles. There is much to see and learn but in early May we didn’t find it too crowded with tourists — especially if you stay overnight. Then, a sort of magic quiet descends over the city like a shroud. It’s quite a contrast to Paris, where I seem to usually end up. 🙂

  5. HB what rich and colorful photos. I felt like I was along on the journey. It’s too hard to pick one favorite, but among my favorites: the rich spices, the gorgeous pottery, the incredible lavender and the garlic. Wow, what a place for all the senses.

    I hope your sun comes out again soon.

    • Somehow I knew you would appreciate all those colors. And the baby olive trees. Aren’t those adorable? I was so sad to not be able to bring one of those home …

      As for the sun, I heard a rumor yesterday that someone saw it, but by the time I made it to the window it was gone again. On the plus side, I’m saving a lot of money on sunblock. 🙂

    • Thank you, Terry! I was quite smitten with those cheeses, too. They would certainly add some color and interest to a charcuterie platter, wouldn’t they?

        • The green one tasted very much like pesto, Terry — though maybe a bit more bitter, because it didn’t seem to have any pine nuts in it. And the red one was bliss! It was full of sun-dried tomato bits and pimento; more veg than cheese, really. I didn’t ask to sample any stinky cheeses, though … my husband had headed back to the apartment by then and I didn’t want to come home with the dreaded foot-breath. :D.

    • Beautifully said, Penelope. Long live traditional food markets, indeed! Some traditions are worth keeping for as long as we humans walk the earth, aren’t they? Thank you for stopping by!

  6. What an exquisite, colorful, lush visit to these open air markets! Thank you! Your photos match your words perfectly; really carries you there “))

    • To *fully* carry you there I’d need to add the smell of roasting chickens and big vats of paella, Lara! It was such a feast for the senses that even the memories bring on a bit of sensory overload. But in a good way. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Paella! So delicious =P A fabulous sensory overload. When you figure out how to add sound and scent to your blog, lmk ;)) I’d love to do the same! Can you imagine?

  7. Arles looks like such a lovely southern French town. I have long wanted to go there during the photo festival, but so far haven’t been able to find the time. I love you photos in this series.

    • Oh, Otto — you *must* visit Arles during the photo show sometime! Our visit happened to coincide with the show (which we didn’t know about until we arrived) and it would have been worth the trip for that alone. If you ever decide to make the trip please drop me a note; I’ll gladly recommend places to stay, dine, etc.

  8. I loved this post! The colours, the ambiance, you have captured it beautifully, I have never been Arles, but will be putting it on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing

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