Shopping In A Provençal Village

Aug 8th, 2012 | News, Shopping, Travel

SABLET:   Every Friday morning:    The weekly market in Sablet (Marché Hebdomadaire) takes its place in the Village Square, known as the Aire de la Croix.

The Charcuterie Stall a the weekly market – looks like everything you need for Aperitifs – Some Saucisson, Cheese, perhaps some Pate …..

It is still a fairly small market, having started during summer 2011, but I’m sure that it will grow this year into a flourishing small town market as Sabletains, visitors taking vacation breaks in the village, and neighbors from nearby villages stop by to do their fresh fish, produce, cheese and charcuterie shopping……

The Fish Market stall has been visiting Sablet on Thursday mornings for a number of years. You can count on the freshest of fresh fish and shellfish

………maybe take home some Couscous Royal for lunch from the stall at the market.

Couscous Royale for lunch anyone? Light and fluffy Couscous accompanied by a delicious, spicy sauce – a little bit of Morocco infused into your Provence vacation

Visitors to Provence and Sablet often comment on the friendliness of the “commercants” in the village. Whether your vacation is one week or two months, you are greeted with the same friendly smile and customary, happy “Bonjour Monsieur” or “Bonjour Madame” when you enter the shops. Help in finding purchases – maybe even suggestions on how to prepare and serve whatever it is you are buying, is normal. Presentations are always prepared with care and pride – the displays are so inviting that you can’t help but let your creativity and imagination go to work planning your next meal. When they know you like a particular item, they will make a point of remembering.     Good old fashioned service!

The Bureau de Toursime is right there off the village square

Over the years, our village has attracted a group of dedicated and hardworking shop keepers,hairdressers, artists and “Bureau de Tourisme”. The staff at the Bureau de Toursime are ready with helpful information, and to serve visitors with samples of wine from all the Sablet Vintners. They host scheduled informational walks around the village, recounting the history of Sablet over the centuries, and pointing out significant buildings. Without this group of people, working at their businesses daily, then planning events for the inhabitants and visitors to Sablet, our village would certainly lack some of its ambiance, charm and fun.

Just off the Village Square, the Tabac carries a variety of newspapers, souvenirs and gifts. It is also where you can buy a card to recharge your French “mobicarte” mobile phone.

Just in case you find yourself visiting Sablet …. let me introduce you to some of our Commercants ….  that way, you’ll already have friends in the village.

Madame Moulin – proprietor of the Boulanger Festival, presents an extensive variety of traditional and old fashioned bread, as well as many different whole grain breads. All breads and patisseries are baked fresh daily on the premises.

Monsieur and Madame Pradier – proprietors of the Boulanger Pradier, where you can buy traditonal breads and patisserie. Here they are pictured with the “Gallettes des Rois” or the Three Kings Cake a tradition in Provence at the feast of the Epiphany.                  This picture is from the Sablet Blog

There’s something about French bread that makes it hard to resist munching it as soon as you get it!

We have two Boulangeries – les Festival and Pradier. If you are a guest spending your Provence vacation at Maison des Pelerins or la Baume des Pelerins, the smell fresh bread baking at the boulangeries of Monsieur & Madame Pradier who run the Boulangerie Pradier and the Moulin family who have the Boulangerie Festival, very early each morning, will be familiar to you. These bakeries open before 7am each day to make sure that everyone who comes can get their fresh bread, croissants and my favorite, Pain au Raisin (I’m addicted to these!) for breakfast each day.

What better way to start the day, than with a very cheerful, “Bonjour Madame! Un pain au raisin et une baguette?”

But be prepared, these guys are popular – the lines often stretch all the way out of the door!

Monsieur and Madame Fabre – proprietors of the Epicerie Vival Market – there’s never a problem of running out of the essentials when you have the Vival Market within a few steps.

Next door ….. Monsieur & Madame Fabre, proprietors of the Epicerie Vival (Mini) Market, have stocked the little market with everything you might need for your day to day living.

Charcuterie, wine and cheese …. what more can you want?

This store is really like a small supermarket. It is packed full of fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, butter, yogurt, cheeses and other dairy products, cleaning products, a small deli (which includes a great selection of sausages) and a good selection of wine.

The attractively displayed produce is fresh and seasonal

It is SOOOO nice to be able to walk for less than two minutes down to the store to pick up something when I run out.

Then … we have the Pizza Restaurant, Pizza Comme Di (take out or sidewalk seating), and the Cafe – very important in the life of the village, as a meeting place. It is impossible to stop in any time of day – early in the morning for a cup of coffee, or an aperitif in the evening without running into someone you know.

Bruno – the proprietor of the Cafe des Sports offers a warm welcome to all who stop by for a coffee first thing in the morning or an aperitif in the early evening. This picture was taken by Loran List, a professional photographer, who was one of our guests at Maison des Pelerins

Your host at the Cafe des Sports is Bruno, whose smiling face and warm greeting lets you know your in a friendly place. The cafe also has a casual restaurant “la Cornucopia” right next door – great for lunch or dinner.

The Restaurant Cornucopia displays its menu on easy to read boards. As you can see, they serve both a Prix Fixe Menu and an a la Carte Menu for both lunch and dinner. During the “season” they have special evenings such as the one known as the Fete des Belges, which means that the meal they serve that evening is the best Moules/Frites (Mussels Mariniere and French Fries) you have ever tasted!

The Restaurant les Remparts is a cosy place to have a meal in the Winter and cool relaxing spot on the Terrasse during the warm weather.

Likewise for les Remparts, another casual restaurant that serves a Prix Fixe menu and A La Carte menu at lunch and dinner – inside, or outside on their pretty terrasse in good weather.

We spent the time in Sablet right after Christmas, and met Mr. Thierry Bonfils, our new butcher. Monsieur and Madame Bonfils took over the Boucherie about a year ago and there is universal admiration for the quality and well priced products he presents.

Monsieur Bonfils – don’t hesitate to go into the store thinking you don’t know the cuts of meat – he will patiently help you find just the right cut for your meal.

Don’t worry about not knowing the French cuts of meat. Monsieur Bonfils is always cheerful and helpful, making sure you completely understand the cut of meat you inquire about, and if you wish to know, the best method of cooking it. Although he does not speak English, he has diagrams on the wall and he will show you exactly where the cut of meat you are considering comes from. He has a wide variety of meat – beef, lamb, pork & chicken as well as pates, home made sausages and other charcuterie.

If you’re not sure which cut will be best for the dish you are planning to make … don’t hesitate to ask.

Over the years, I have heard many people say, “French lamb is great, but the beef is not the best.” I now have news for everyone who has not had great beef in France – Come to Sablet. I tried many cuts of beef during the three weeks we were there and I will say that they were all great, the Entrecote steak and short ribs were the best! While we were in there, I heard many people say, “we are so glad that Monsieur and Madame Bonfils are in Sablet.”

and … if your not in the mood to cook … Monsieur and Madame Bonfils carry a good array of prepared dishes that are ready to simply take home and heat.

Madame Bonnet – proprietor of GB Fleurs – always an display of gorgeous flowers and plants

Madame Giselle Bonnet who runs GB Fleurs – is a treasure. She makes a great contribution towards making Sablet a “beau village,” as I heard one visitor describe our village. It is impossible to walk past floral displays both inside and outside her store without stopping. Really nice to be able to pop in for a last minute gift of fresh flowers or a beautiful plant. She also holds Flower Arranging classes. I know that at least on one occasion, Madame Bonnet has accompanied our neighbor, who looks after the garden/courtyard at Maison des Pelerins, to advise and supply the flowering plants for the garden and vegetables for our petite potager. Merci Madame …. UPDATE: Since the first posting of this blog. Mme Bonnet has moved her Florist’s Shop to another location and we now have a Creperie and Tea Room in that location.  I’ve heard lots of great things about the delicious crepes – will keep you updated.

Lastly, about a year ago, Mme Roure who had owned the second Epicerie for many years retired – and we miss her smiling face in the village square. Since her departure, the new owner of the building that housed her store, has spent all this time renovating the building and I am told that we will soon have our own Estethician!

Could it be possible? Facials – perhaps a mini-spa? I can’t wait … guess what is the first appointment I’ll be making on the next trip!

This is a very brief introduction to the Commercants of Sablet. There are many others such as the Hairdressers (very good), talented Artists, the Pharmacie, Banque and so on who haven’t been mentioned here. They will all treat you with the same care …. but I thought I would introduce those whom you are most likely to come into contact with on your vacation in Provence.

 CLICK HERE To see a map of the village and the location of the shops.


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