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.
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.
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.
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?