It was interesting to see the difference in market fare between Paris and Provence. There were a lot more Mediterranean goods in Provence, obviously, but also some North African things, like Moroccan leather and hammam towels. We were based mostly in Aix-en-Provence during our stay, and I tried to time our excursions elsewhere to coincide with local market days.

We got some of this roast chicken and potatoes in Aix — and, I have to say, I think the potatoes were tastier than the chicken after soaking up all the drippings!

Arles sure had an incredible market for such a small town. It seemed to go on forever, and there were even live chickens and rabbits!

I had originally wanted to go to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which is known for its crazy Sunday antiques market, but due to a change of plans, we never made it. Instead, we spent a leisurely Sunday in Aix sipping coffee, which was a pretty welcome break that day.

While I’m talking about markets, I also have to give a shoutout to Monoprix, which we visited in almost every city. I like to think of it as a French Target… or Super Target would be more like it, since, in addition to all the clothing, pharmacy products, and household goods, there’s also a full grocery section, usually in the basement level. But the great thing is that there are Monoprix stores located right within the city. (My other love is Carrefour, which is like a humongous French Super Walmart, but these are usually located in the outskirts of the city.) We got things to supplement what we picked up at the outdoor markets and also picked up a good number of other non-food items, like pharmacy products, a few shirts for baby E, and I even found these cute little chalkboards in the stationery aisle.

I loved the different foods available in France that are usually harder to find fresh and affordable back home, like magret de canard (duck breast). We also found pre-packaged steak tartare that came with the seasoning mix as well as beef carpaccio. Ok, these were nothing fancy, but they were decent and easy. I kind of wanted to make a rabbit stew, but decided not to in the end ’cause it would’ve meant staying in much of the day.

We actually ate in most nights, which works out better when traveling with a baby, and it was nice to unwind in the evenings at the apartment. Here’s a glimpse of some of the meals we prepared in both Paris and Aix-en-Provence… Sometimes they were just simple meals with the fresh foods we got from the markets, and other times we did a bit more cooking.

My favorite part, though, was the daily cheese and charcuterie plate we always put together. I sure miss that!

I also made sure to sample some La Fermière yogurt I found at Monoprix. This stuff is amazing. It’s incredibly smooth and light. I could only find the vanilla flavor, and you can actually see the specks of real (Madagascar) vanilla bean in the yogurt. So good. What’s more, it comes in these beautiful painted terracotta pots! I tucked a few in my suitcase to bring back, and one of them is now holding my pens.

We brought back all kinds of gifts and goodies to try from the various markets we visited. I used this helpful guide on things to bring back from France by (who else?) David Lebovitz. As for what you can get through U.S. customs, I followed these guidelines from the U.S. customs site itself. I actually did not realize you can bring cheese (hard and semi-soft) into the U.S.! According to the list, though, foie gras, being a poultry product, is not allowed, although I’ve read that it all really just depends on your customs agent. Not wanting to take too many chances, I only brought back a few cheeses and cans/jars of foie gras and declared them on my form. We got through without any problems (I’m not sure our agent even read my form, so don’t take my word for it).

Here’s a peek at just some of the things we brought home… others have already been given away, and others still already consumed. :) Any suggestions on what I should make with the sundried tomatoes, vanilla beans, or lavender?

For more posts on France, see…
Eating in Paris
Not Eating in Paris
The Bastille Quarter
Bistrot Paul Bert
Markets (Paris)
Oh, the Cheeses We Ate
(La Vraie) Bouillabaisse in Marseille
Provençal Specialties in Nice