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10 Things I love about Fall in Provence

Le Castellet

Changing colors in the Le Castellet

This will be my fourth fall living in our little corner of Provence and, as the years go by, it seems we spend these months doing a lot of the same things every year. We’ve developed a sort of “must-do” list of the season, which in many ways tops some of the summer pastimes that the region is famous for.  Namely, being able to enjoy nice weather (apart from a few showers!), great cuisine, and fun local festivals… sans the crowds of the high season.

Fall is really a perfect time to visit the South of France.  Here’s a quick list of a few of the things I enjoy most about this season…

1. The chestnut festival in Collobrières

I had to put this one at the top of the list because it’s hard to find a more perfect fall “mascot” than those warm, roasted chestnuts that line the streets of this pretty little village in the Var.  Every year we seem to get just a touch of rain that adds to the whole “village ambiance”… wet cobblestones dotted with leaves and the smell of roasted chestnuts in the air… divine.

Find out more about the chestnut festival on the Collobrières’ website.

Gorges du Verdon Unreal blues in the Gorges du Verdon

2. Weekend drives to the Gorges du Verdon

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the “Colorado of Provence”, make sure to put it high on your “must-see” list. In the summer (and even spring months), you’ll be fighting the caravan, camping, and kayaking crowds for a peak at that crystal-blue water. But in fall, it becomes a quieter – albeit cooler – natural paradise.

 

3. Changing vines

The fall colors here are simply beautiful and nowhere is this more apparent than on the grape vines. I love driving through the local villages and seeing the leaves change to glorious yellows, oranges, and deep reds.

 

4. Daube Provençale

This is the comfort food of the season and I’m happy to say that my husband tried a new recipe last week that was just fantastic. Although you’ll be spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen – slow-cooking the meat the night before and again the following morning – this melt-in-your-mouth stew is worth the wait.  Find a recipe to make your own daube here.

Fall Collage

Vines in Le Castellet, Daube Provençale, & Soupe au Pistou

5. The chocolate festival in Belgentier

It’s back! This local favorite was cancelled last year as organizers claimed the crowds were too overwhelming for this small village (4 words for you people:  it’s a chocolate festival!), but it’s being continued this year. You’ll know where to find us on October 19th & 20th. Here’s a link for the chocolate festival site.

 

6. Fall fashions… boots, scarves, & layers layers layers

French fall-fashions are really my favorite ways of dressing. I’ll take an oversized sweater or cardigan & scarf combo over shorts & sandals any day. Not to mention the great selection of boots at the local boutiques… thankfully, the winter sales are just around the corner.

 

7. Soupe au Pistou

We’ve yet to make this fall / winter soup ourselves, but we have managed to find a great restaurant just outside the village of Collobrieres that serves hearty, homemade-style bowls. The Clos du Père Louis makes a great lunchtime stop before an afternoon at the chestnut festival.

 

8. Quiet days in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

This is another fantastic village to visit during fall when the summer crowds have tapered off. We spent a very quiet (and rainy) weekend last November and can’t wait to get back… plus, the hotel rates are very attractive if you’re trying to save some euros.

Weekend at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

 

pears

9. Everything pear

Last year I tried my hand at a pear-camembert tart and this year, in keeping with the “cooking with the seasons” spirit, I’ve purchased a food magazine specifically focused on pear desserts – pear brioche, & pear tatin and many, many tart recipes.  Along with a the pretty apples you’ll find at the local markets, definitely a fall star.

 

10. Feeling like a local

Even though I’ll never be officially French (though I’m eating my way to that goal), fall is really a time where I feel a part of somthing here.  This is the time of year when the region really shines – away from the hustle and bustle of the summer months, you’ll find a quieter, more accessible Provence – ready to surprise you at every turn with its unique specialties and natural beauty.

 

 

Those are a few of the things I enjoy about this time of year, what are your favorite fall pastimes in your corner of the world?

 

 

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17 thoughts on “10 Things I love about Fall in Provence

  1. Fab post, Tuula! I so wish I was there now (had to cancel proposed October trip) but your words and pictures are the next best thing.

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  2. As we are spending our first fall in Provence as “residents” I couldn’t agree more! And I’ll definitely save the date for the chocolate festival next week!! 🙂

    Thanks!

    Marta

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  3. Thank you for this post! Provence is definitely my dream city, one day. Lyon will have to due for next year 🙂 Definitely will be making a trip down to this beautiful beautiful place!

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  4. You have convinced me that fall is definitely the time to visit France, especially Provence! Regarding #1, can you believe I have never had a chestnut, roasted or otherwise. Ever since I heard the Christmas song that starts, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . .” I have longed to try one. But I’ve never seen one here in Southern California. Thanks for your great suggestions! I will be tucking them away for the future!

    As for a fun fall activity here, about an hour away from us is Oak Glen, which is a collection of apple orchards. It’s a great daytrip to go pick apples (or buy them already picked), and get a piece of apple pie. The fall colors abound there too.

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    1. Many thanks for you comment Karene and I do miss many of the fall activities in the States – your apple orchard trip sounds like great fun… hope you get a few good tarts out of your pickings 🙂

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  5. You found a publication devoted to PEAR desserts? WOW–How wonderful!

    Your list has me ready to pack a bag and run away from home . . .

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  6. Love this post, Tuula. 🙂 The Gorges du Verdon looks absolutely stunning! The color of the water reminds me of rivers I saw in Bosnia and Slovenia. 🙂 My favorite thing about Fall here in Oz is how soft and golden the light is, going to the Italian mountain town near us for the best cappuccino I’ve ever had, and the fact that snakes start hibernating. 🙂

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  7. Thanks Tuula…this was a wonderful post. There are certainly times when I am so tempted to hop a plane and come over. Well, maybe, hopefully, next spring! Enjoy your wanderings this fall and show us everything in pictures!

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  8. Outstanding day at Collobriere …Festival was great…4th-5th time & I still love it..find things there we see nowhere else. Weather was iffy but with the roasting chestnuts, it was appropriate. May go back next week

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    1. It was a great festival Mary-James, already looking forward to next year! And trying the chestnut beer this time around was an added bonus 🙂

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  9. I totally agree with your post – fall is definitely the best time to be in Provence!
    We have been to the Gorges de Verdon and to Isle sur la Sorgue last week, it was wonderful!
    Monika from Germany

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  10. wonderful storys ,i have been looking at a visit to this beautiful village but was put off by the large amount of people in peak season.can you tell me are the restaurants shops etc open for business in le castellet off season,also just how cold can it be ref gear to bring,it all seems very romantic…

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  11. Hi Robert,
    I believe almost everything is open in Le Castellet during the off season… it’s actually a very popular place year round… don’t miss having crepes at Roy d’ Ys is you come in the fall or winter… a perfect “warm-up” with a bottle of cider. It’s not very cold either, a jacket and scarf (and umbrella just in case) should suffice.

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