A personal selection of the most enjoyable places to shop in Provence by author of the Moon Guide to Provence, Jamie Ivey.
1.Rose and Marius, Aix en Provence, 3 Rue Thiers.
The founder of Rose and Marius, Magali Bonnard spent her childhood summers in her grandmother’s Provencal bastide. Her memories are full of the bright clear Provencal light, the scent of lavender and most clearly of all, the intricate patterns on the cement tiled floors of the house. Her perfume, candle and soap collections all utilize symmetrical patterns and colours that draw inspiration from these tiles. The result is a uniquely alluring collection of Provencal products.
2. Occadeco , 2 Avenue des Belges, Aix en Provence
I just love this shop. It’s what’s known as a depot de vente. People deposit items ranging from jewellery to furniture and the shop takes a percentage of the sale price. And Occadeco is the best depot de vente I have come across in Provence. In the center of Aix it is an emporium of all things Provencal. In recent months I have purchased an outside set of furniture, an art deco chest of draws, and a set of designer sun glasses for my wife. All at a fraction of their retail price. It’s a shop I go back to again and again to see what’s new. Bargain items only last a day on the shop floor, so don’t hesitate, buy!
3. Les Indiennes de Nimes, 4 Rue de La Republique, Arles
I am a sucker for all things to do with the Camargue. This wetland delta at the mouth of the Rhone is famed for its wildlife, particularly wading birds such as flamingos and of course bulls and herds of white horses. The bulls are reared for the annual bull runs in local villages and they are looked after year round by Gardians (expert horse back riders and bull herders). Les Indiennes draws inspiration from the Gardians life to offer a range of hardy cowboyesque clothing. There are also lovely local print dresses etc…Be sure to pop in next time you are in Arles.
L’Isle aux Brocantes, L’Isle sur La Sorgue, 7 avenue des 4 otages
Any article about shopping in Provence would not be complete without at least one listing for L’Isle Sur La Sorgue. “L’Isle aux Brocantes” antique centre, boasts forty second hand and antique dealers.
Cross over the bridge to a leafy square and enjoy browsing the shops
You’ll find objects and furniture dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th Century.
Industrial antiques from the 20th Century, curios from different periods, revisited furniture and fixtures, garden pieces or aeronautic design.
There’s even a restaurant for lunch while you mull over a potential purchase.
Bande de Sardines, 8 Quai de Rive Neuve, Marseille.
The Marseillais have sardines on their mind. There’s an old story about how a sardine once blocked the entrance to the old port. A little research shows that this typically exaggerated Marseille tall story was based upon the day the Sartine frigate of Louis XVI was attacked and sunk by the English. The wreck blocked the port entrance, and within days chinese whispers had transformed the boat into an enormous sardine. In any event the city is inextricably linked with the fish and Bande de Sardines celebrates this with a series of colorful T-shirts.