Greetings from a sunny, but quite cool, Provence. And as I think I say in almost every post, it’s a great time of year to be in the South of France. All of the towns and villages are decorated for the holiday season – twinkling lights are hung around the main squares and neighborhoods, the Christmas markets are buzzing day and night, and Provençal crèches (Nativity scenes) are on display (some complete with lavender fields!) to be marveled at by children of all ages.
And I was lucky enough to visit the Aix-en-Provence Christmas market last week. Although markets in the south don’t have the same “wintery” ambiance as the Christmas markets in the north of France, a Provençal market has a charm all its own.
Of course you will find the traditional stands of vin chaud (hot wine), oversized pretzels, and bonbons and candies of all shapes and sizes, but also local products like cheeses, wine, and of course, lavender.
Another attractive feature of the market is, well, it’s in Aix. You can visit the stands directly on Cours Mirabeau and then finish your afternoon at one of the avenue’s many cafés and restaurants. Plus, you’re more than likely to have a bit of sunshine to accompany your tour as I did during my mid-day visit.
I also made a pleasant discovery while wandering through the city. Beside the Foire au Santons, the traditional sale of Nativity characters & scenes, another Christmas market exists just near the tourist office. A sort of “sister cities” market, the stands featured here are from all around the world – offering a chance to taste traditional foods from Italy, Portugal, and Greece, to name a few.
And if you don’t fine the perfect gift at any of the Aix markets, Cours Mirabeau and the boutiques that zig-zag through the historic center are full of great holiday deals and plenty of French specialty items to suit your fancy.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, from our family to yours!