During December in Provence the local bakeries and gourmet grocery stores are filled with delicious specialties and the winding streets of hilltop towns come alive again (after quiet November) for the Christmas markets. The gift of food is king here. I have to say I cannot be more on board with that French policy.
Attend any of the events below and you’ll find yourself nibbling roasted chestnuts and wandering around a town square with a glass of champagne or mulled wine in your hand. Provence may not be known for it’s festive season in comparison to the Alsace region of France, but I’m certainly not complaining. If you happen to be in the area, I’m still offering market tours despite the more chilly weather. We’ll just have to sneak an extra glass of red to keep us warm!
Just about every single village in the Provencal countryside has their own Christmas market. I like the outdoor markets better than the markets held in the local community centres. I also prefer the markets that last only a weekend or a day. See Noel.org for a complete list of the many many Christmas markets and light festivals. Christmas markets (Marchés de Noel) generally only start at 10am and go until 6pm.
December Events in Provence, 2018
17 Nov-30 Dec
Marché de Santon et Céramique – Aubagne
Aubagne, Provencal capital of pottery, has 24 chalets displaying the work of local artisans specialising in Santons (figurines used for the nativity scene) and other ceramics.
24 Nov- 24 Dec
Marché de Noel – Salon de Provence
25 wooden chalet stands
Place Morgan et Cours Carnot, every day from 10-19h, except Mondays from 14h-19h.
Fête de L’Huile d’Olive Nouvelle – Mouriès
All day market in the centre of Mouriès which celebrates the arrival of the newly pressed olive oil. Many local producers will be there and you’ll be able to taste for free. Be ready to fall in love with the strong fruity taste of one of the best regions of olive oil in France.
Noël à Nice
There’s lots going on in Nice during the festive season. Check out the schedule! You’ll find a chalet village with 70 chalets as well as a skating rink.
Marché de Noel – Pelissanne
Marché de Noel Hotel Mirande – Avignon
Lovely artisan market couples with gourmand food and wine at this charming hotel in Avignon. This is a must on my December calendar. Read my article about Christmas in Avignon. Note the Christmas market of Avignon is smaller this year and has been moved close to the train station.
Marché de Noel – Cucuron
10-19h. Market around the beautiful basin of this Luberon village.
Fête des Lumières – Saint-Rémy de Provence
19h à 2h. The traditional lighting of the Christmas decorations in the village. Fun atmosphere.
Marché des Créateurs Hotel Gounod – Saint Remy de Provence
Get the most of your Christmassy weekend in St Remy by visiting Hotel Gounod‘s Christmas market. A classy artisan market. One of my favourites. Have a cocktail or hot chocolate in the bar. Lovely.
Marché de Noel – Lambesc
9h30-18h This market has a couple stands from Northern France which is great for a little variety.
Fête de l’Huile Nouvelle – Aix en Provence
A celebration of the newly pressed olive oil from around Aix. Try quality oils and all delicious products made with olives.
Marché de Noel – Lauris
A little market in this artsy town overlooking the Luberon.
Marché de Noël – Vénasque
Take in the stunning views from this town while doing a little shopping. 9h-17h
Encierro d’Hiver – Saint Remy de Provence
Arénes, 14h30. The bulls are back in the arena!
Noel en Provence Mas du Juge – Maillane
50 artisans, 10-20h. Lots of local talent.
Marché de Noel – Cotignac
Marché de Noel – Saint Martin de Crau
Fireworks at night!
Marché de Noel – Boulbon
Including a Transhumance (sheep!)
Marché de Noel – Mallemort
10h-19h, 100 stands
Marché des 13 Desserts et du Gros Souper – Saint Remy de Provence
A market providing everything you need for the traditional supper of the 24th of December. Including the 13 desserts. Read my article about this market.
Marché des 13 Desserts – Aix en Provence
Place François Villon. Les Allées.
List of the 13 Desserts for the Provencal Christmas meal on the 24th:
- Dried fruits that represent the robes of 4 orders of monks. Dried raisons for the Dominicans, dried figues for the Franciscans, Hazelnuts for the Augustinians, and Almonds for the Carmelites.
- La pompe à huile ou gibassié (brioche often in the form of a figure of 8 made with olive oil and flavoured either with orange blossom or aniseed),
- White or black nougat
- Quince Jelly
- White grapes
- Christmas Melon
- Oranges or Mandarines
- Calissons d’Aix (a candy from Aix made with melon and marzipan
Marché de Noel – Gordes
Marché Truffes & Gastronomie – Rognes
A market of quality products, including truffles, for indulging during the season. Love this little town.
Eat eat eat! Oysters, Foie gras and confit fruit for dessert. Make sure to order your oysters in advance. Gilles, at the St Remy market, is the best. If you’re interested in midnight mass, this is still practiced here in Provence. Eglise Saint Vincent in Les Baux is one of the best known, though you might have trouble finding a spot. You’ll find locals dressed in traditional costumes here. Get there at 11 pm for the 11:30 mass.
Eat again. A “chapon” (castrated male chicken) with foie gras stuffing and a bûche du Noel.
Sometimes, you’ll be invited over to finish the leftovers from the meal of the 24th. Let the eating continue!
Feel free to add your local Christmas market or event in the comments below!