May in Provence is the continuation of annual flower markets and the beginning of the abrivado season. Horse festivals, running of the bulls… Pay attention to signs- you may be run over!
For me, the season only really starts with the 1st of May celebrations in Arles where the Fête des Gardians takes over the city.
This is the month of public holidays in France. Make sure to be aware of store closings. I would just give up on getting anything official done this month. Beware of “faire le pont” where everyone combines a public holiday with a weekend- even if the holiday is in the middle of the week!
Jours Féries/Public Holidays:
|Fête du Travail||1 Mai|
|8 Mai 1945||8 Mai|
|Jeudi de l’Ascension||25 Mai|
|Lundi de Pentecôte||5 Juin|
May Events in Provence 2017
Fête des Gardians – Arles
This is the largest Fête des Gardians where there are celebrations, parades, and blessings of the horses, bulls, men and women that basically perform the task of the French cowboy in the plains of the Camargue. The parade in Arles is immense; you’ll be able to see the Queen of the Arlesiennes (much loved) as well as the many young and old men proudly riding their white Camargue horses through the street. It’s a site to behold! To check out more pictures click here.
Festival de la Photo Nu – Arles
In the Provencal capital of photography, you’ll find 30 expositions of contemporary and classic photographs based on contemporary nude photography. The expositions are an homage to local photographer Lucien Clergue, who is known for his nudes taken on the sandy shores of the Camargue. This genre is a favourite of mine. Francesca Woodman influenced a lot of my fine art photography.
Half the fun of this exhibition is meandering the colourful streets of Arles while looking for the next venues that are held in many of Arles’ most beautiful buildings.
Public holiday to celebrate the victory of 1945.
Floralies – Sénas
The best value for money flower market of the season. 70 vendors.
Jazz in Arles – Arles
Lots of Jazz concerts in Arles this week. Click the link to see the schedule and buy tickets.
Festival de Cannes
I’m quite sure this doesn’t need any explaining. Hollywood movie stars and artistic works of video art all in a glamorous setting.
Fête du Printemps – St Martin de Crau
A celebration of all things Provencal. You’ll find parades, a market and locals dressed in traditional costume making jam and all sorts in the street.
Marché aux Fleurs – Tarascon
80 flower stalls at this immense plant market
Fête des Voisins – Aramon, Beaucaire, Chateaurenard, Eyragues, Paradou
This is technically for locals, but it’s the first “neighbour day” in small villages. It’s basically the French version of an American block party. Is there a British equivalent? Depending on the village you’ll have to bring your own dishes (like pot-luck) or there’s a free meal provided by the Marie, all in the spirit of getting to know your neighbours. Whoever said that the French aren’t friendly?
Nuit des Musées – all of France
Many museums are open and free this evening all over France. A fun night out with a sneaky glass of wine? Art is sometimes best after a glass… Check out the museums nearest you.
Festival des Vins Coteaux d’Aix –Rognes
Wine festival celebrating the wine of the Aix en Provence appellation. Buy a glass and taste as much as you like! I love this town. Warning: this festival is all you can drink…dangerous!
Pèlerinage des Gitanes – St Maries de la Mer
If you’re traveling in the Camargue, you may be overwhelmed by the incredible number of gypsies that invade the town of St Maries de la Mer in an enormous pilgrimage in celebration of the virgin Mary. You’ll find great music, an awful lot of caravans and an enormous parade. Just keep an eye on your wallet.
Fête de la Vigne et du Vin – Domaine de la Vallongue, Domaine Terres Blanches
Learn how to make soaps, taste olive oil and organic wine at these 2 vineyards.
For Vide-Greniers (flea markets) see vide-greniers.org