Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Market Day in Saint-Remy-de-Provence & a Provencal Tomato Tart

Wednesday is market day in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, an old Roman village just south of Avignon nestled in the hills of Les Alpilles mountains where vineyards and olive groves flourish. The current site of Saint-Remy was probably first built in the 1st century AD and the town was created around its first church, built in the 6th century. It is the birthplace of Nostradamus, a 16th century author of prophecies and was once the home of French Impressionist Vincent van Gogh, who spent the last year of his life in the psychiatric center at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole. Although its history runs steep, it is one of the most lovely and stylish villages in Provence.  

Markets such as this one have existed for centuries in Provence and have changed very little in modern times. Scenes such as these are repeated throughout Provence day in, day out, year after year, in sun, rain, snow, even on holidays. It is a traveling carnival that goes from village to village, attracting locals and tourists alike.

The main food market is in Place Pellissier where local farmers bring in their fruits and vegetables, fresh from the fields and set up their stands. More of the market, including clothing and fabrics, flows into the Place de la Republique across the street.

There’s a wide variety of other vendors including a huge selection of French cheeses,

freshly baked breads, fish & shellfish right out of the water from Marseille,

a wide variety of Provencal olives, brightly colored spices,

vin de pays wines and regional olive oils,

colorful olive oil soaps,

beautifully carved wooden spoons and bowls,

kitchen implements, prepared foods of all kinds, regional specialities, local goat cheeses, foie gras,

and quite a nice selection of clothes,

table linens

scarves, and brightly colored straw market bags.

As you can see you can buy almost anything at the market. On market day the village is bustling with locals as well as tourists. I recommend that you arrive early as the locals do in order to avoid the crowds of tourists, especially in the summer months.

These gorgeous tomatoes are perfect for a Provencal tomato tart. For today’s tart I chose puff pastry as a base, but in a previous post (photos directly below) I used pastry dough, post and recipe here. That particular tomato tart had a more dense cheesy egg filling than the one with puff pastry that I made for today, as you can see in the photos below. Actually I made that tart two different ways – one resembled more of a quiche

and the other a deep dish tart.

But today’s tomato tart uses puff pastry and I was quite pleased with the results below. It was crunchy and light and perfect for lunch with a simple green salad, dressed with a French vinaigrette, recipe here.

In Provence tomato tarts are often served in small slices with aperitifs during cocktail hour. Every cook has her own unique version. I was surprised at how easy the puff pastry was to work with. If you can find heirloom tomatoes, especially several different colors, by all means use them, but garden tomatoes work just fine as well.

Provencal Tomato Tart (Tarte aux tomatoes)
Adapted from A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan, with puff pastry instructions from Epicurious, serves 6
Printable Recipe

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Defrost 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (preferably all-butter pastry) from a 14–17-oz. box according to package directions. If the package contains 1 sheet, cut the pastry in half; if the package contains 2 sheets, just use 1. Roll out the dough slightly on a floured surface to smooth it out.

Place the pastry sheet on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and use a paring knife to gently score a 1/4” border around the edge. Using a fork, prick the pastry all over inside the border to release steam while baking.

Spread the bottom of the dough with a thin layer of Dijon mustard, and then cover with a single layer of snugly packed tomato slices, preferably heirloom tomatoes in several colors, that have been sprinkled with sea salt and drained on a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh thyme. Top with grated Gruyere cheese. Bake until the crust is golden and the tomatoes have collapsed. It should take about 20 to 25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes and continue to cook until pastry is golden. Remove the tart to a rack and let it cool for 20 minutes or so before slicing it into wedges.

Variations: Add slivers of kalamata olives over the cheese before baking. Or sprinkle the cooked and cooled tart with torn bits of fresh basil right before serving.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.
Have a great weekend everyone.


  1. I once tried to make my own puff pastry dough... What a mess. Love the frozen stuff after that hot bubbling buttery mess, and now I know I could confidently make this tasty tomato tart! Yum yum!!

  2. Thanks for taking us on this armchair journey through the market in Provence Sam. Whenever I travel I try and get to the market to experience every day life.

  3. that's a market! I love all those fresh produce and your tomato tart looks fantastic. Great job on making your own pastry, Sam.

  4. Hello Sam,
    I loved seeing your images today of the market in all its glory. It must be tempting to purchase when product is so fresh and beautiful. Your tomato tart receipt looks delicious and in particular the mixed colour combination.
    Welcome home

  5. I wanted to let you know that the link to the recipe is not correct. It takes you to a page about asparagus can you fix it please? I loved visiting St. remy and love all French market days!!

    1. Hello Nancy,

      Thank you for pointing out a link to one of the recipes being incorrect. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that you are referring to the recipe for the French vinaigrette and the link taking you to a post about asparagus. In that post on asparagus, if you scroll down you see My Carolina Kitchen's French Vinaigrette recipe for a salad. Here is a direct link to a printable copy of the French vinaigrette recipe:

      By the way, a French vinaigrette is also fabulous on asparagus as well as fresh greens. I hope I've helped and that you visit again soon.

  6. Your tart is beautiful with the yellow and red tomatoes Sam! Bet it was amazing:@)

  7. Fabulous produces and great market! I love tomato tarts.



  8. What a beautiful market space. Everything looks so fresh and colorful. I may have to try this tomato tart this weekend.

  9. That is one fine looking market and I could spending a lot of time there (at least for Pat & Bev). They are at a FM right now in Idaho

  10. Sam, That is a great looking market! The produce is spectacular and the variety is impressive for sure... I'd like a couple bunches of those radishes. The Saturday market in Knoxville's Market Square is huge and it has a lot of variety that and the nearby Amish/Mennonite produce markets are our best best for good produce and heirloom tomatoes. I must admit that I've never had a tomato tart and heirloom tomatoes would be a must for this treat! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  11. Sam, your photos form the market are all so wonderful! The lavender bunches had me swooning--I love lavendar! Your tomatoe tart looks fabulous--if I can find some good heirloom tomatoes at a local farmer's market I will make this soon!

  12. I must make you smile when posting these photos, Sam, remembering your time spend there. I would love to stroll through that market. Much different than the farmers' market I visited today :) I love the simplicity of this tomato tart and will put on the list of things to try with my tomatoes ripening now.

  13. Gorgeous photos that capture moments from your wonderful trip. Your tart looks splendid. I can't wait to make one!

  14. Such gorgeous photos and a stunning tart! I can't get over the look of those tomatoes! I've been thinking that I really need to put this market on my list for a visit. I've seen two Van Gough exhibits this summer, so the name keeps popping up, tempting me...

  15. The markets in Provence are wonderful. This post brought back memories of our summer trip there. Your tomato tart is beautiful Sam no matter if it is made with pie crust or puff pastry.

  16. Such fun to visit this market with you this morning, Sam. I love French produce markets AND flea markets!
    Really like the idea of making a tart with puff pastry. It turned out perfectly...can't wait to try it.

  17. You have brought back some wonderful memories of the markets in Provence. We had so much fun there. I think I have enough ripe tomatoes to make your tart, Sam. It looks so delicious. Great post. Thanks.

  18. Oh, I love the European markets and find myself disappointed when I go to local markets here these days. Love all your tomato tarts, they are truly the essence of summer!

  19. The markets in Provence are wonderful. This post brought back memories of our summer trip there. Your tomato tart is beautiful Sam no matter if it is made with pie crust or puff pastry.

  20. What a great market, Sam! Everything looks gorgeous, they know how to do it right! I'd love a bunch of that lavender! Glad you had a great trip!

  21. ohmygosh, I'd love to go to that market. What were the prices like for those wooden spoons/bowls?

  22. Oh, what a gorgeous festival of color that market is! I'm on my way to the fridge to take out some puff pastry -- I have some Brandywines, Cherokee Purples, and a Yellow Zebra! You have inspired me!

  23. I welcome and love this way to use up more tomatoes. I will be doing this when I return from vacation. I love using tomatoes with mustard - such a different way than my usual olive oil. The markets just beckon (did you get a straw bag?) (Or a table cloth?) Love the history and the photos are just stunning!

  24. Replies
    1. Also, I'm really tempted to harvest my front yard lavender in just that bundled manner. I'm already eating all the tomatoes in sight;).

  25. Hi Sam,
    As you take me strolling through the market, I can smell the fresh vegetables and the spices even the fresh linen smell of the textiles, oh how I love the market. Your tart looks wonderful and will be a recipe that we enjoy very much! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen


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