- Centre Sant-Vicens (Perpignan, Languedoc-Roussillon; tel. 04-68-50-02-18): This region of France is next door to Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona. This place is home to several merchants who sell various Catalan wares, with forceful geometric patterns in textiles, pottery, and furnishings.
- Santons Fouque (Aix-en-Provence, Provence; tel. 04-42-26-33-38; www.santons-fouque.com): Collectors from all over Europe and North America purchase santons (figures of saints) in Provence. You'll find the best ones here, cast in terra cotta, finished by hand, and decorated with an oil-based paint. The figures are from models made in the 1700s.
- Alziari (Nice, French Riviera; tel. 04-93-85-76-92): Established in 1868, Nicolas Alziari is the oldest olive manufacturer in Nice. As well as regional and flavored olive oils, there are numerous olive-infused products, from tapenades to face creams. There are two outlets in Nice: 318 bd. de la Madeleine (where you can visit the working olive mill) and 14 rue St-François de Paule.
- Verrerie de Biot (Biot, French Riviera; tel. 04-93-65-03-00): Biot is famed for its hand-blown glassware, and there's no better place to see them being produced than at this working glass-blowing factory. After you've watched red-hot molten blobs being blown into glassware of surprising beauty and complexity, you can head to the adjoining gallery where the one-of-a-kind collector pieces are for sale.
The Best Markets
- Uzès (Languedoc-Roussillon): There are few more romantic settings for an outdoor market than the arcades of the medieval square in the heart of Uzès. The place aux Herbes teems every Saturday morning with stalls selling local produce and crafts, with more stalls filling the narrow side streets.
- St-Rémy-de-Provence (Provence): This is the place to turn up on a Wednesday morning when the streets of the old town are crammed with scores of stalls. Sellers of local goat cheeses and saucisson (sausage) vie for attention with vendors of olive oil soap and other souvenirs of Provence.
- L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Provence): Sunday mornings are a busy time, as hundreds of stalls set up along the banks of the Sorgue River in this pretty Vaucluse town. As it's also the second-largest antiques center in France (after Paris), there's an enormous brocante market, too, where you can hunt for bargains among the bric-a-brac.
- Arles (Provence): Be aware that the weekly market on Saturday can bring Arles to a standstill. As it's the largest market in Provence, this isn't so surprising. The boulevard des Lices throngs with stall after stall selling food and local (and not so local) crafts.
- Apt (Provence): The capital of the Luberon area holds one of the most enjoyable markets in all of Provence. You'll see many of the same stallholders at l'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, but you might find it easier to get around Apt's wide streets and large main square.
- Antibes (French Riviera): The daily covered market in Cours Masséna is a riot of Provençal produce and color. You find it hard to resist some of the stalls selling high-quality (if not particularly economical) olives and tapenade.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.