Out of the many things you just can’t miss in Toulon, the Cours Lafayette Market must be near the top of the list. Welcoming, authentic, colourful…it’s Provence in miniature! If you add the fact that it’s Provence’s biggest market, that it is open every morning, and was also celebrated in song by Gilbert Bécaud, you’ll start to realise why your Toulon holiday has really started.
Back to basics in the authentic cours Lafayette market
The Cours Lafayette market is a big part of our lives. We’ve been coming here every week since we were little kids, the place is full of rituals, the chouchou sweet sellers are there and it’s always so much fun to chat with everyone.
We arrive at the bottom of the market, walking between the fishmongers’ stalls – traditionally held by fishermen’s’ wives – and the olive sellers, we stop at the cade* seller’s waggon to share a tray of still warm cade (don’t miss it! It’s a year-round star delicacy here!).
We are ready to amble back up the Cours Lafayette street. Colours, fragrances, heat, accents, all the ingredients are here. With our basket in one hand and a shopping list in the other, we are ready to go!
Tastebuds in bloom and “douceur de vivre”!
Ratatouille, stuffed veg, pistou soup and melon are on the board as they are every year, with: tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, garlic, basil, onions… After checking on the peach seller to see if he’s OK, we rush off to get some fougasses*! A quick detour to the cheese stall, and then we’re off to try another taste with a childish treat of crusty and hot chichis frégis*.
In the shops on the sides of the Cours, we fill our baskets a little more: coffee from the roaster, fresh pasta for our “pistou”, a stick of vanilla for the fruit salad, a few herbs and spices for the grilled meat, some delicious bread… The shopping is over and it’s time to take an apéritif drink at a terrace on the harbour.
This evening, after a little nap and a trip to the beach, we’ll sit down for a meal and savour Provençal douceur de vivre…
Gilbert Bécaud, a Toulon native, sung about our beautiful market 😉
Some market vocabulary:
*cade: a Toulon speciality which you can’t avoir, chickpea flatcake baked in a wood-fired oven which is eaten hot and at apéritif time.
* fougasse: provençal soft-crusted bread, medium thickness, with olive oil. It can come sweet or made with onions, black olives, anchovies or lardons…
*chichi frégi: a long and crusty doughnut.