One of the pleasures of walking around Saint Remy de Provence is the stunning boutiques. Recently, I was invited by Lorraine, owner of Maison Marguerite B, to take pictures of her latest store arrivals.
With the grape harvest long done due to a very dry summer, locals are concentrating on the olive harvest this month. You’ll drive by olive groves and see wooden ladders hidden among the trees. Furthermore, the olives vertes cassées made by many people still at home have appeared in supermarkets and every store. Due to the dry weather, the harvest will be smaller this year. Some people are picking just with buckets rather than using the traditional method of laying nets around the trees to gather the fruit.
In October, we celebrate the arrival of squash and the beginning of the soup season. The weekly markets are slowing down, but there’s still plenty to see and do in Provence. If it’s a sunny day, temperatures can easily get up to the high 20’s so if you’re visiting, bring attire for all eventualities.
Here is my list of the October Events in Provence. Please feel free to add any events in the comments section from your area of France, or even abroad!
Life as an immigrant in another country is never easy. A friend of mine recently managed to mix up the French work to cook “faire cuire” with to drive “conduire.” This resulted in her explaining to the butcher how she was going to drive the chicken with lots of butter and herbs. It took a good 5 minutes of hand motions before all the employees understood what she was saying. This was only because they brought out someone’s kid from the storage room who understands a good amount of English thanks largely, to Netflix.
Here’s a continuation of some of my personal anecdotes that were so popular in my original article about life in France. Feel free to add some of your own!
I was recently invited to a full day cooking class at Jean-Marc and Alice Villard’s cooking school in their home at Maubec. #Joblove !! haha. Maubec is located in the Luberon, about 45 minutes from Avignon an hour from Aix en Provence. The class was a wonderful way to spend a day learning about food, wine, and French culture.
I have been to many cooking classes for amateurs in Provence and they’re all quite different. Jean-Marc is a professionally trained chef which greatly enriches the experience. He, impressively, taught at the Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon (gastronomic capital of France) as a Chef Instructor. He certainly knows his stuff!
His classes focus on traditional, though light, French cuisine. His techniques and combinations are based on his classic training as well as Provencal products and cuisine. He’s a strong supporter of local products, which is something you’ll learn about in his cooking class.
August is a month in Provence where everyone believes it to be their right to do absolutely nothing (farniente) that requires any energy (other than catching up with friends, sunbathing by the pool or on the beach)
In September, there are plenty of festivals to attend and there’s a new crowd of tourists. The grape harvest has started and the tomatoes are so enormous and colourful you’ll think you’ve gone to tomato heaven. Ripe purple figs are falling off the trees, covering the sidewalks, and you’ll start seeing beautiful quince fruit at the market.
I think this is one of the best times of the year to visit Provence. The cool mornings are welcome after the scorching heat of the summer and the sunny evenings are perfect for long apéros in the garden.
I’ve included here a list of the events that I think offer the best of Provence, I hope you get to see some of them and if you do, let me know what you think!
This is the month where just about the whole of Northern France descends onto the beaches of the Côte d’Azur. On the radio, they announce “black weekends” which signify lots of Parisians heading south causing a rather lot of traffic. Everyone is finally on vacation. Don’t expect to see a dentist or a lawyer this month. No point trying to get an appointment of any kind. Everyone else being on vacation forces you to relax. Drink rosé, swim in the sea, visit local markets and take long, lazy naps. This is August in Provence. The heat will force you to take it easy as you listen to the loud cigales (locusts) in the trees. And my has it been hot hot hot recently! Someone told me recently that Europe as a collective whole named the recent heatwave “Lucifer”…ha!
This month there are a few little pottery markets and some annual events that we wait for every year.
Many villages have their own fêtes that generally only the locals know about. You’ll know you’ve stumbled upon one of these when you find the main square full of normally 1-2 glass of wine people drunk off their faces. I even know people that have it written into their work contract that they have to take this specific day off every year for their local village fête.
Make sure to check out some of the ongoing exhibitions before the end of the month. This is my list of August Events in Provence.
I recently participated in a cooking class held by Jean Marc Villard of French Cuisine cooking classes in Maubec. Jean Marc, passionate about local produce, started the class by taking us to Naturellement Paysan, the local farmers cooperative in Coustellet. See my article on the gourmet cooking class.
This cooperative is not only amazing if you can’t make it to your nearest Provencal market, it also stocks products that you can only buy directly from the producers such as award-winning saucisson, meats, and cheeses. You can be assured that the animals used to make these products live with dignity and even very happily!
Gordes, classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France. This famous hilltop town looks out over the Luberon National Park. You feel obligated to stop your car driving into the village as the village is arguably even more beautiful from the outside. The architecture here is similar to the bories village settlements where dry stone dwellings were made from rocks in farming land. You can visit some of these settlements nearby the town.
It’s full summer here in Provence. The cigales are singing (quite loudly I must say!) and the sunflowers and lavender are in full bloom. The ballet (or science?) of knowing when to open and close your shutters has been mastered for all those without air conditioning. We’ve gotten back into the habit of the afternoon sieste, and getting together with friends over copious glasses of rosé. There’s so much to do, other than “farniente” (to do nothing soaking up the sun) that I don’t even know where to start! Here is my selection of the most interesting events happening around the Bouches du Rhone region of Provence. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
The Fête du Tarasque parade is unique in Provence. Firstly, the parade celebrates the more medieval history of Tarascon, represented through medieval costumes and icons. Whereas, 15 minutes south of Tarascon, festivals celebrate the traditional costumes of the Arlesiennes complete with bull running and beautiful white Camargue horses.
During this 4 day festival, you can visit the château of Tarascon for free. My favourite part of the castle is the graffiti on the walls drawn by British sailors during the 1700s.
The parade celebrates traditional vocations such as wine makers, shepherds and vegetable growers.