In the cities, towns and villages of the area a high percentage of food shopping is still done in the street markets. It’s a part of the culture. Market days are a time to buy fresh produce from farmers and market gardeners and then to relax in a café and socialise with friends.
The markets are everywhere and take place at several different times of the week. Some attract hundreds of professional traders, as in the city of Aix-en-Provence which has three markets a week with designated areas for all the daily necessities of life – fruit, veg, fish, amongst other products – as well as a vast array of arts and craft stalls.
Other markets are much smaller. In Varages the stall holders come from the village itself and sell their home made cheeses, jams or vegetables grown in allotments on the outskirts of the village. At certain times of the year there is even a local man selling chicks and ducklings.
As well as weekly gatherings there are markets organised each year for special occasions. Some are in ‘honour’ of food stuffs which have nourished the local population for centuries – pumpkins, onions, garlic and of course truffles.
Other markets are nothing to do with food. The brocante is a speciality of the region; usually selling a better class of merchandise than in the popular English ‘car boot sale’ they are the place to find once-loved furniture or antique glass wear and cutlery.
For the ‘big weekly shop’ and all necessities for running a home there are several nearby supermarkets to choose from.
Ten minutes drive from the village in the neighbouring town of Barjols there is a medium sized Intermarche supermarket with a fresh fish and meat counter. On the other side of the town there is another supermarket Contact which has a particularly good selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
At a twenty minute drive, in the town of Stain-Maximin-Sainte-Baume there is a Hyper U … a vast supermarket where you can find everything to stock the kitchen cupboards but also cosmetics, ‘white goods’, car and garden supplies, etc. And at the end of each of the many shopping isles in the warehouse is a small section which has been stock specifically with the non-french in mind … goods especially liked by the Brits, Dutch or Scandinavians.
In the same industrial zone there’s also an array of other supplies; a petrol garage and car wash, sports specialist, DIY supplier and builders merchants, vehicle hire, pet centre, etc.
For more information on shops in Varages, please see the ‘General Facilities’ section.