The re­mains of the morn­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - ERIC WISEMAN MORUYA, NSW

WHEN in Provence, I make a point of go­ing to a mar­ket most days. If it’s Mon­day it must be Cadenet (where the stalls share space with the bronze statue of the drum­mer of Ar­cole); La Tour-d’Aigues (with its dra­matic back­ground of the sub­stan­tial ru­ins of a chateau) on Tues­days; and Fri­days at Lour­marin, or maybe Bon­nieux.

Th­ese are the main mar­kets in my part of the Luberon, and on Wed­nes­days or Thurs­days I usu­ally go to Aix-enProvence. I’ve given up driv­ing there and try­ing to park; a bus from Per­tuis rail­way sta­tion de­liv­ers me to the cen­tre of Aix-en-Provence in about 90 min­utes.

Most days I go home for lunch tak­ing mar­ket pur­chases (chick­ens roasted on spits served with veg­eta­bles cooked in the juices are hard to re­sist) but not so when it’s Aix-en-Provence be­cause to do so would mean miss­ing the spec­ta­cle of the closing of the mar­ket. There are many mar­ket­side restau­rants but my favourite is Cafe de Palais, though on mar­ket days it can hardly be seen for the stalls di­vided into three sec­tions, all linked like a string of sau- sages, and sell­ing fish, fruit and veg­eta­bles, and an­tiques, cloth­ing, kitchen para­pher­na­lia and such­like.

I find space at a cafe ta­ble on the foot­path af­ter mid­day, or­der a pastis and en­joy watch­ing the mar­ket close. It is pure theatre as the stall­hold­ers shout at one an­other, pre­sum­ably ex­chang­ing views of the day’s busi­ness, while they pack up and load their goods and makeshift stalls on to trail­ers and into vans, demon­strat­ing pure ge­nius in ma­noeu­vring the loads. As they start clear­ing away, peo­ple ar­rive to poke around in the piles of dis­carded veg­eta­bles and fruit. “Look­ing for let­tuce for their rab­bits,” a waiter once ob­served to me.

Then truck­loads of coun­cil work­ers ar­rive with brushes to sweep the piles for other trucks to take on board. And then men ar­rive with large and pow­er­ful hoses to wash what’s left. Nat­u­rally an un­sus­pect­ing pedes­trian or cy­clist oc­ca­sion­ally comes around a cor­ner and gets some­thing of a drench­ing, oth­er­wise we cafe pa­trons would feel some­what de­prived.

While this is go­ing on, wait­ers rush into the space left by stalls and plant ta­bles and chairs un­til there are about 20, all soon oc­cu­pied by din­ers who, like me, are spec­ta­tors at what must be the great­est such show any­where. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Columnists re­ceive a Trav­elon Anti-Theft Clas­sic Travel Bag fea­tur­ing FRID block­ing tech­nol­ogy, metal mesh lining, de­tach­able cut-proof shoul­der strap and lock­able zip­pers. $115. More: 1800 331 690; strand­bags.com.au.

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