It’s Christmas market season and the Côte d’Azur has its fair share of them from the tacky to the sublime but last Sunday I reckon we found one of the best. Our neighbouring village, Le Rouret, is only small but its market has been growing in popularity for a few years now and this year visitors numbers were estimated at 10,000. With about 130 stalls, this can only be considered a massive success. Whole roads were turned into one-way systems to allow parking spreading several kilometres but we were lucky (and knowledgeable) and got there early before these enormous crowds. After days of rain we were treated to a perfect day of blue skies and bright sun.
The premise for this market is bygone times which means dotted in amongst the homemade craft and fairtrade gift stalls we found artisans reproducing their wares in vintage style. I spotted an ironmonger, stone-mason, distiller (for lavender essential oil) and a furniture decorator amongst others. The ground was covered in straw and almost all the food stands were offering traditional produce including cheese, charcuterie, jams, chocolates, honey, olive oil and truffles. The delicious smell of roasted chestnuts filled the air. But this market is not only about the past, there were many things for children too, such as workshops in pottery, bread-making, masks and christmas card-making. Nestled within a timeless manger of cows, sheep, rabbits, donkeys and geese was Père Noël’s house sporting a healthy long queue of excited kids. Entertainment was provided by giant stiltmen wandering around, a wonderful old precursor to a jukebox and delightful automatons representing bucolic scenes. The Marché de Noël in Le Rouret is warm, authentic, fun and far from “made in China”, I particularly loved the pretty hand-made decorations of apples and oranges hanging on raffia threads and was happy there wasn’t a cottonwool and tinsel-decked wooden chalet in sight. It’s a pity it’s only on for one day a year.