Visiting Toulon, France – Part II

One of my fondest memories of this trip was stumbling upon the Farmer’s Market in Toulon. Somehow we happened upon the market we knew nothing about and got sucked into it even though we weren’t buying any of the food. I have been to many Farmer’s Markets in my life, but this is probably one of the best I have ever seen.

Here is a little history about Toulon and the market:

The old town of Toulon, the historic center located between the port, the Boulevard de Strasbourg and the Cours Lafayette, is a pedestrian area with narrow streets, small squares and many fountains. Toulon Cathedral is located here. The area is also home of the celebrated Provençal market which takes place every morning on the Cours Lafayette, which features local products. The old town had decayed in the 1980s and 1990s, but recently many of the fountains and squares have been restored, and many new shops have opened.

Yes, this market had loads of fresh fruit and vegetables at every turn.

But there were also vendors selling flowers:

And others selling fresh food like pizza and paella:

Did you want to see a close up of that pizza? Yeah, I thought you did.

The rustic presentation of the food only added to its charm and ultimately, my desire to want to buy it all.

The colors jump out at you in person and I am so glad that they look as bright as they did in person. Anyone for an orange?

Everywhere we looked in Toulon, the history seeped through every pore of the buildings we passed. Each one had a story to tell and we were ready to hear them all. Especially the ones with food! Look at the artistry in this cheese shop.

Cheese not your thing? How about a visit to this store with all of the roasted meat on display? Ham, chicken, sausage, and so much more. Carnivores – rejoice!

A French bakery does not go unnoticed by hungry tourists. How you could possibly pass up this store window without drooling?

This bakery sold only bread and its intoxicating smell lured us from down the street directly inside. Look at the “Bijoux de Nice” or Nice Jewels – little pretzel like pieces of bread.

We, however, opted for the oversized croissants, which were flaky, hot, and light.

The market continued on and on and we opted to stay with it for as long as it allowed us.

We walked past the beautiful cabbages and artichokes and all the while I wished I could stay here and cook some up.

Are you an artist? How about a still life of vegetables too pretty to eat, but perfect for painting? Look at the purple colors, especially in the “choux-fleur” or cauliflower.

I nearly surrendered my passport when I saw the fresh olives. Kalamatas – oh my!

The Corsican flag even made its way into the market with a stand offering Corsican food.

Fresh seafood was readily available and I imagine those bad boys were extraordinarily fresh since Toulon is right on the water.

Could it be? Yes, that’s fresh pasta – ravioli and gnocchi, too for only €5!

How could I post today’s blog without commenting on the unusual in my travels? There was a really strange man dressed in a costume and standing on a box in the market with a sign and collection box in front of him. Not so strange yet, huh? What was strange is that he had two cats with him and he would put one on his head and then move them around, trying to get them to “hug” each other or “kiss” each other. It was a jaw dropping experience because honestly, there is no talent in that and yet, he was clearly expecting people to offer him money.

As we were leaving, I looked back and snapped this picture only to realize that I could never really capture the true feel of this marketplace. I could have spent the entire day walking among the vendors, talking to them, sampling their food, and enjoying the experience. I would do it again, but next time I would want to spend a few days there and settle in a bit. Plus I would want a kitchen so I could cook up some of those fresh veggies!

Next up: Barcelona, Spain as we finish up our cruise and enjoy one last day in Spain before heading back home.

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