Christmas in Provence is a very special time for a visit.
Towards the end of November, the street lights – wishing “Joyeuses Fetes” and “Joyeux Noel” – start going up (remaining unlit) in the towns and villages (even the very small villages), as the Provencaux make preparations for the “Saison des Fetes.” The traditions of Christmas in Provence have been handed down through the generations and are observed to varying degrees depending on each family and each village. Many however, are common to all parts of Provence as you will notice as you browse through the stores and at the Christmas markets throughout the Region. The Christmas Markets open during the last weekend in November. Festive little wooden chalets spring up over the space of two or three days, with lighted signs guiding shoppers to any number of stalls of Artisans who have crafted and are offering everything from Regional candies, toys and Christmas ornaments to handmade quilts, sweaters, hats and santons!
Stores in towns, villages and in the Centre Commerciale deck their walls and windows with everything Christmas – with lots of ideas for gift giving. In the Patisseries and Patisserie Department of Supermarkets, windows and showcases are filled with the beautiful and artistic latest interpretations of the Buche de Noel. Perhaps a pink and white ice cream buche this year? Refrigerator cases are filled to the brim with Fois Gras, ready to be taken home and “fait maison” for Christmas Dinner. Crates of shellfish fill large spaces in stores as this is the beginning of Seafood season and fresh fresh oysters and other shellfish are always popular at Christmas parties.
Provence’s well known roundabouts take on a distinctly “it’s Christmas in Provence” look and a popular decoration on the exterior of many houses, is a Santa climbing up to a window or up a chimney. These are just some of the unmistakable signs of the season you see when driving around the area. However, amongst all the festivities and traditions during Christmas in Provence – it most of all remains a place where families gather and friends meet to celebrate the season of joy – Provencal style … bien sur!