Of course we first think of lavender, sunflowers and sitting under a plane tree drinking rosé while munching on olives from the market and cooling off by the fountain. But what if I told you that there are unique treasures during the winter months that can be experienced only in Provence.
Christmas in Provence is a truly magical time. The towns and streets are vibrant with the sights and sounds of holiday markets, nativity scenes, traditional parades. And, as for the gastronomy – it is nothing short of extraordinary.
The weather is, well, not summer, but there’s something about wearing that fashionable French scarf with a winter hat that makes you feel a bit Frenchy while you meander the markets sipping hot mulled wine and nibbling roasted chestnuts. You’ll want to bring your winter attire but I can reassure you that Provence is far from being like the North of France. We have many days of sun and the average temperature in December is around 50° (give or take) certainly warm enough with a jacket on to sit outside in the winter sun.
Feeling a part of local life (and not like a tourist) is easier to do during the winter holiday time. Most of the people roaming the streets and enjoying the holiday festivities are locals. The French love to get out and celebrate and this part of France are deeply rooted in their customs.
Provence has a unique heritage to share with us:
Santons – clay figurines hand made and painted to represent the people in a Provencal village and the scene of baby Jesus’ birth. These are great collector gifts and unique for anybody who is looking for some authentic hand crafted Christmas present. In our family, we get one figurine each year to add to our nativity scene.
13 desserts – a traditional “meal” eaten after midnight mass served buffet style including pomp à l’huile (olive oil and orange water flat bread), oranges, nougat, almonds, dried figs, Calissons d’Aix and more. Why 13 desserts? To symbolize Christ and his 12 disciples. The symbolism is also in each dessert. For example, the oranges represent wealth and are often given as a traditional Christmas gift.
Truffles – the winter truffle of Provence is bursting with aroma by the end of December, just in time for us to sniff with a dog on a truffle hunt in the Luberon.
Holiday chalets for the cosy Christmas market atmosphere with a large selection of culinary delicacies, arts and crafts.
Festive lights and beautifully decorated shops
Nativity scenes in towns and churches depicting the way of life in the past, the imagination and detail in these scenes is remarkable.
Indulge in a magical Christmas in Provence tour
If you’re thinking of a winter adventure, a bit of indulgence, time to relax, culture, somewhere with a magical holiday feel and a lot of good food and wine, then this Food & Wine Christmas Tour was designed with you in mind.
- Romantic and cosy accommodation
- Gourmet meals, wine tasting, truffle hunting and cookery lesson
- The best of both worlds; 3 nights in the countryside of renowned wine region Cotes-du-Rhone, 3 nights in the charming city of Aix-en-Provence
- Many Christmas markets, a truffle market, historical anecdotes, holiday festivities, fireplaces, spa indulgence and time to stop and rest – after all you are on this tour to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a typical Christmas.
AND, should the weather not be our friend, nothing can stop us from visiting wine cellars, spending more time in the spa, visiting the many museums in Aix-en-Provence, cooking with a chef and sipping café at the local brasserie on the famous Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence – all lit up for you.
What a lovely way to start your Christmas season and the New Year.
Take a magical tour at Christmas with Your Private Provence tours and experience real Provence like a local.