Well, here we are, the holiday season is upon us. Since we don’t have Thanksgiving in France, Christmas has already been in full-swing now for the past few weeks (despite all the absolutely dreadful weather we’ve had in the southeast this week… rain, floods, and more storms on the horizon).
But the decidedly cold spell does make it seem all the more like the holidays are really upon us. I love my sunny, south-of-France climate as much as the next gal, but when Christmas rolls around all I want to do is be curled-up inside with a mug hot chocolate and a stack of food magazines to keep me company.
Not to mention plenty of evenings eating raclette, drinking hot wine, and digging into apple tartes. There’s much to love about staying indoors in France… and somehow, not-so-surprisingly, it all revolves around food.
And since everyone seems to be getting into the holiday spirit down south, here’s a few not-to-be missed holiday events if you’re traveling to Provence this month and the next. Or, if like me, you’d simply like a little bit of “armchair travel” to help you dream about where your next holiday might take you…
-Fête des Lumières (Light Festival), l’Isle sur la Sorgue
December 6th – An evening of activities in the center of town around the festivities of Christmas. Local merchants will light up their windows and will also be on hand to propose different gift ideas. The streets will be full of different stands – everything from roasted chestnuts to gourmet treats to vin chaud (hot wine) – and there will be different “animations” filling the town, entertainers, music, etc.
-La Route des crèches en Vaucluse (tour of Nativity scenes)
From the end of November to the beginning of February – Local parishes of the region display their nativity scenes, “each more beautiful then the next”. This tour offers a selection of some of the favorites to discover with your family. Participating towns include: Sault, Avignon, Châteauneuf du Pape, Séguret, Beaumes de Venise, and many more. To see a complete list, visit Provence Guide.
-Avignon en fêtes pour Noël (Avignon celebrates Christmas)
From the beginning of December to the beginning of January – The city transforms itself into a “Christmas wonderland” starting with the Christmas market which opens the 29th of November. Forty “chalets” will be on hand displaying everything from jewellery to home deco to all of the gourmet favorites of the season: chocolate, Provençal nougat, gingerbread and of course vin chaud.
Different squares around the city will feature typical Provençal santons (navitity pieces), “la gastronomie haut-gamme”, and Christmas trees will also be available for purchase.
A small train (the famous “petit train touristique”) will be available to take you from square to square for free. Please find more information at Provence Guide.
-Christmas celebrations in Aix-en-Provence
End of November through January – Aix goes all out every year for Christmas, and since it’s not very far from where we live, a visit during the holiday season is a must. Besides the Christmas market on Cours Mirabeau, there’s also a market for the traditional “13 desserts of Provence”, a santons market (nativity scenes & pieces), and a series of concerts and shows. To download a complete program listing, visit the tourist office’s Christmas agenda page.
-Salon du chocolat et des gourmandises (chocolate & gourmet fair), Saint Tropez
December 20th to 22nd – A “pleasure for the tastebuds”, this 3-day fair très sucré will let visitors discover the creations and specialities of chocolatiers, pâtissiers, and confectioners. Entry is free and the salon will be held at Salle Jean Despas, Place des Lices. Open from 10am to 8pm.
For more information on all the Christmas events taking place in St. Tropez, please consult the tourist site Christmas agenda.
Joyeuses fêtes les ami(e)s!