CHRISTMAS TRAVEL 2014
A Christmas in Provence.
Provence s Markets and Traditions
What better time to visit the region of Provence than at Christmas
when the enchantment of its Christmas markets and traditions abound ,
when its food markets overflow with festive delights and its Santons
fairs help adorn the local nativity scenes.
Provence more than any
other region seems to not only have safeguarded its Christmas
traditions, but also knows how to put them on display and enchant us, a
visit to the region now will remind the traveler of what Christmas is
really all about, just a short drive from Marseille/Aix or Nice airports
this is the home of winter wonderland.
Here the festive season
begins on December 4th and continues for eight weeks until Candlemass,
February 2nd. It s all about preparations and anticipation and if you
live in Provence then you have two important things to do on December
4th ,the Feast of Saint Barbara, first you need to plant your wheat or
lentil seeds in three dishes representing the Holy Trinity, because as
the Provincial saying goes “Quand lou blad vèn bèn, tout vèn bèn,” or
“When the wheat grows well, everything goes well so if your seeds sprout
you are in luck and a prosperous year ahead is assured.
need to get those Santons arranged in your nativity crib as there is no
Christmas celebration without them in Provence. Santons in France date
back to 1775 in Marseille, and are handmade, painted (or not) clay
figurines of different sizes, there are the traditional religious
figures , such as the Virgin Mary, Joseph the three wise men but
Nativity scenes in Provence also have the people and artisans who would
have lived and worked in an 18th and 19th century villages of the
region - there is indeed a figurine for each tradesman and craftsman,
the miller ,the water carrier the baker ;as all the decorations are
symbolic you are not allowed to forget the well or the olive tree.The
infant Jesus is only placed in the scene on Christmas Eve.
to buy one santon a year to add to the family crèche or crib and always
enjoy a shopping trip to Marseille's Santon Fair which runs until
December 31st 2014 where the stalls sell literally hundreds of
different santons , along with handmade decorations , gifts and
antiques. The most famous Santon fair takes place in Aubagne – Marcel Pagnol s birthplace -and is well worth the visit to help you complete your collection.
santonniers are family run businesses and most French families have a
favourite ones and stick to them. My favourites are from The Escoffiers based in Aubagne . and the Aix based, Fouques
Don’t like Christmas pudding? Try their thirteen symbolic desserts , the traditional Provence extravaganza for Christmas Eve the Lou gros soupa with mulled wine includes nuts dried fruit , fresh fruit and candied fruit
You truly can’t beat a traditional Christmas in Provence.
Monaco has a an exhibition of Nativity cribs from all over the world.