Visit Provence in Winter: Landscapes, traditions and gastronomy

Spending a winter in Provence is a magical experience. Put down your suitcases in a warm farmhouse and discover the region in a different light.
Visit Provence in Winter: Landscapes, traditions and gastronomy
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While sitting on a cafe's terrace, we observe the golden winter light on the honey-coloured stone that surrounds us. The area is calm and the air is fresh. We take advantage of this time to discover the region in a more authentic way. From November to February, we leave the splendour of the coast to soak up the local culture of Provence in winter. 

With Le Collectionist, discover the Provençal decors that have inspired the greatest artists. In town, in the countryside, or by the sea, enjoy your celebrations in the greatest Provençal tradition and discover the picturesque cultures that surround this season during your holidays in Provence in winter.

THINGS TO DO IN PROVENCE IN WINTER


There are endless things to do in Provence in winter thanks to the diversity of its landscapes and mild climate. Far from the crowds who visit and stay during warmer months, when winter arrives, the villages and coasts of the region are sublime and infinitely more intimate.

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We explore the golden alleys of the charming little villages of the countryside described by Daudet, or we relax, coiled in a large coat on the terrace of a cafe by the water to observe the vast colours that stretch out in front of us. With inexhaustible inspiration from painters and artists, the landscapes of Provence can be appreciated just as much in winter.

Discover the South of France in winter

Avignon, Marseille and Aix en Provence, are cities with bountiful history that are very popular during the summer. A visit to Provence in winter is the ideal time to revisit these treasured places from a new perspective. In Marseille, we taste bouillabaisse on the terrace to warm up before setting off to storm Notre Dame de la Garde and its breathtaking panorama of the old port and the Mediterranean Sea.

In Avignon, we stroll through the streets of the city to discover its grandiose historical monuments. We start with a visit to Fort Saint André and its breathtaking view stretching over the Luberon and the Alpilles. Then, after an excursion to the Palais des Papes for its exhibitions, we settle down near the city's legendary bridge facing the sunset.

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To explore Aix en Provence and its riches, discover our things to do in Aix en Provence and follow in the footsteps of the painter Cézanne.

In the heart of Provence's countryside

While traveling the hinterland of the region, we let ourselves be carried away by the unparalleled scenery of winter in the Provençal countryside. At the bottom of the mountains in winter, one can only remember the stories of Jean Giono, "the mountain has the fragility and transparency of barely bluish porcelain", "there is nothing else to do than 'to watch". We then explore the land of Marcel Pagnol during a hike in the Garlaban or that of Cézanne at the bend of Sainte Victoire. 

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Whether you're by the mountainside or surrounded by fields, the villages with small labyrinth-like alleys are a pleasure to explore. We wander through secret passages that guide us towards a discreet church, or a graceful fountain enlivened by market day. 

Visit Marseille's bright blue skies in winter

In winter, the climate of Marseille remains mild. When the sun dominates the sky, you can rest on the terrace to enjoy the warmth of its rays. These temperatures make this region one of the most pleasant during winter.

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Settle down in the district around the Corniche, as close as possible to the sea, in the Villa des Auffes. If, during this period, swimming is reserved for the more adventurous, taking the streets leading down to the sea and warming up in the sun by the water, sheltered from the summer crowds, is a grandiose moment.

Outside Marseille, when winter comes, exceptional calm dominates the creeks with their steep cliffs. Only the waves break this silence by breaking on the rocks. In the distance, the sea is tinged with shades of blue and shines under the soft light of the luminous sun of the South of France. 

EXPERIENCE THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND TRADITIONS OF PROVENCE

When we think of Provence, undoubtedly, the smell of lavender fields, the memory of the sun and the heat, invades us. But in winter, we discover a whole different atmosphere, a land of traditions, and one of our most beautiful luxury holiday destinations to experience exceptional end-of-year celebrations. 

Feast of Saint Barbara

The Roman heritage is still lived today in Provence. 20 days before Christmas start the Calendales, which run from December 4 to candlelight. This first day is marked by an ancestral tradition: the Feast of Saint Barbara. Each year, the squares of towns and villages come alive, we go to the baker or the markets to buy the wheat seeds of "hope".

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On returning to your luxury villa in Provence place 3 seeds into  "sietoun" saucers in damp cotton. Until December 24, the seeds' germination is a spectacle particularly appreciated by the youngest. When it comes time for a meal, they are dressed in ribbons in the colours of the region before placing them on the dinner table. If your seeds have sprouted well, tradition says that the year's crops will be bountiful. 

Discover Provence's characters for this time of year

Everywhere in France, the manger is a must-have during the Christmas holidays. In Provence, the characters represent the folklore of the region. The inhabitants of picturesque villages, bakers, shepherds, animals and characters from the nativity all find themselves in an enchanting setting which has been enriched and enriched from generation to generation.

These characters are called Santons. Created in Marseille in the 19th century, these clay figures are bought every year at the many Christmas markets that are set up in Provencal towns or at the Santoniers. In Marseille we walk through the fair dedicated to them and we discover the factory of Marcel Carbonel, a real institution for this art and this tradition which has been perpetuated here for 3 generations. 

The Pastrage Ceremony of Provence

The Pastrage ceremony is held in the villages of Provence. It is a tradition inherited from the local shepherds who honoured the birth of the baby Jesus. In the most picturesque villages of the region, we witness the colourful procession of shepherds in traditional clothes and their animals descending towards the churches for midnight mass.

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We let ourselves be carried away by the magic of the warm lights and the secular songs that accompany the procession and we attend the lambing, which is a presentation of a lamb to the population which represents the nativity, before returning to take refuge with the family around the fireplace of Mas des Oliviers. Preserved on Christmas Eve in many villages, the pastrage is also celebrated during the feast of the shepherds in January.

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PROVENCE'S WINTER GASTRONOMY

In the French gastronomic landscape, Provence holds a very special place, especially when it comes to luxury. From excellent seafood, to wines, and truffles, Provence offers a fantastic culinary scene throughout the seasons from thanks to its abundant and diverse terroir. Between traditions and local treasures, discover three essentials of the region during your visit to Provence in winter.

Truffles: Black gold from Provence

It is from the month of November that this precious black diamond makes its appearance in the markets and on the refined tables of Provence. We stroll through the stalls or discover an upscale restaurant to taste the special flavour of this luxurious dish.

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From Domaine Champêtre in the Luberon, go accompanied by a furry companion who is an expert in truffle hunting to find this treasure. Then enjoy it, carefully prepared by your private chef for the end-of-year celebrations. 

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The 13 desserts of the winter months

After the picturesque spectacle of the Pastrage ceremony, return to the warmth of your home. On the perfectly set table, the typical 13 Calendales desserts await you. Let yourself be carried away by the sin of gluttony by feasting on these local dishes.

This tradition born in Aubagne brings together the best of sweet desserts from Provence. First taste the oil pump, a cake with flavours of orange blossom, then nuts, candied fruit or nougat. If these products are inseparable from tradition, let your chef make you discover other creations centred around Provençal cuisine.

The sea urchins of the French Riviera

Lovers of seafood, this is an event to experience absolutely on the shores of the Mediterranean! In January, depart from Marseille, and walk along the blue coast and its secret creeks to reach the towns of Sausset les Pins and Carry le Rouet, where you can take part in the sea urchins which last three weeks.

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Pagnol will say this "If we judged things on appearances, no one would have ever wanted to eat a sea urchin". And yet every weekend at this time, many people delight in the wild sea urchins of the Mediterranean. It is a tradition that continues and attracts curious visitors as well as insiders.

With Le Collectionist, select your luxury villa in Provence to experience your best Provençal winter holidays.

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