Treat Your Senses to the Ultimate Buffet.
Stepping into the Avignon Market is similar to intruding on a foodie fantasy on steroids. Even before your senses can begin to take it all in, your brain is saying, WOW!
It was our last day in Avignon, and Simon and I were anticipating – with less than enthusiastic glee – our ten hour train trip to Munich the following morning. Deciding that a picnic of fresh foods from Provence was definitely preferable to over-priced train fare, we took the short walk from our rented apartment to the much-touted Les Halles Market.
What we found when we arrived was a covered market containing approximately 40 stalls offering some of the finest, freshest and drop-dead delicious foods imaginable.
There was a colorful bounty of locally grown produce, including some of the most unusually shaped tomatoes we had ever seen. We were tempted by luscious looking breads and baked goods, just calling out to us to try a small sample. We indulged ourselves in the aromas emanating from prepared heat-and-eat meals that made us wish the train had a microwave onboard. And we stood mesmerized in front of a counter flaunting more varieties of local and imported olives than we knew existed.
Add to the glorious abundance of foods the variety of choices in each category, and the entire experience becomes gastronomically and gloriously overwhelming. Looking for sausage? Have fun deciding which of the many types from which you have to choose.
Like cheese? the Maison de Fromage has 250 varieties of textures, flavors and strengths.
And we won’t even talk about the selection of wines. You’ll find fish, meats, pates, pickles, herbs, spices, and much more to make your head spin, your mouth water and your stomach rumble.
All these tempting foods come at a price, but not an unreasonable one for most items. Visitors from the United States may experience sticker shock at 15 Euros for a kilo of pate, but a kilo translate to 2.4 pounds, and, when it comes to pate, a little goes a long way. This market offers the kind of freshness and quality that is worth every cent.
The Original Les Halles Market made its debut in the late 1800s. It thrived until the 1970s when the trend toward building shopping malls and other commercial developments that began to encircle Avignon, threatened the survival of small businesses within its walls.
Not to be squashed by the big kids, Avignon demolished the original market, and built a more modern structure in its place. In order to woo even more visitors, an underground parking garage was also constructed. The market itself should be enough of a draw, but the availability of a convenient place to stash your car while you shop is irresistible.
So, what did Simon and I select for our mobile picnic? It wasn’t easy to decide, but we bought some dense multigrain bread, mushroom pate, two kinds of local olives, a beautiful sweet red pepper and some apples and oranges. As we raced toward Munich at almost 200 miles per hour on a high-speed train, we were saying, “WOW,” with almost every bite.
Les Halles, Pie, 84000 Avignon. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 6:00 AM until 1.30 PM.
(+33) 4 90 27 15 15.
La Petite Cuisine (the little kitchen), located at Les Halles, offers cooking classes every Saturday, September through July, at 11:00. Area chefs show off their culinary skills, offering up the results for sampling along with a wine tasting.