On the 1st of May, make sure to visit the celebrations in Arles where the Fête des Gardians takes over the city. Worth a visit! You may even see the queen of les Arlesiennes.
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!
You’ll find the landscape to be full of red poppies, wild peas, elderflower, rocket and more. The markets display stunning varieties of artichokes, peas and mountains of fresh herbs. Book an insider’s market tour with me if you’re curious.
Jours Féries/Public Holidays:
1 mai : Fête du Travail (French Labour day, A LOT is closed. Luckily, there are numerous festivals. This is when I met my man 11 years ago. The public holiday was the excuse for drinking all his wine and eating all his chocolate while stranded at a youth hostel in deep wine country Languedoc….
8 mai : Victory in Europe Day 1945
30 mai : l’Ascension
May Events in Provence 2019
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.
Foire des Chevaux – Saint Remy de Provence
A flea market and small horse fair in Saint Remy.
Les Printanières des Alpilles – Mouriès
Flower market in the centre of the village.
Journée du Club Taurin – Fontvieille
11h Abrivado-Bandido (bulls!) from the manade to the centre of the village. 16h course Camarguaise in the area (French bull games).
Vin’ Arôme, Le Salon des Jeunes Vignerons des Vignobles de la Vallée du Rhône – Théatre Antique Orange
A wine festival honoring the young winemakers of the Rhone valley inside a Roman theatre. How cool is that?! 5 euro entrance fee.
Saturday, May 4th 2019 de 11h à 19h
Sunday, May 5th 2019 de 10h à 18h
Festival de la Photo Nu – Arles
Now, don’t blush! 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. A great (maybe a little saucy) day out.
Public holiday to celebrate the European victory of 1945. Most, if not all, local villages will have a commemoration ceremony, normally around 11am.
Floralies – Sénas
The best value for money flower market of the season. 70 vendors.
Marché Artisanal – Bédoin
Local artisans market.
Expo Rose – Grasse
Just Rosé Festival – Sanary-sur-mer
A very popular festival with 70 stands celebrating the local, wonderful Provencal rosé. Get tipsy and watch the colourful boats in the port?
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.
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 starlit doesn’t need any explaining.
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. If you try to taste all the wines you might need to bring a notepad to remind yourself which were your favourites! Or, you can just start tasting all over again…
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.
Journées des Plantes d’Albertas – Bouc Bel Air
See a large plant exhibition where you can find rare plants and admire the beautiful gardens.2
ONGOING May Events in Provence
Les Good Trucks – Barbentane
Food trucks assemble to give us a little bit of hipster lifestyle in the countryside. Every Tuesday.
I literally tried going to this every Tuesday last summer and couldn’t make it. I will not let it escape me this year!
Van Gogh at Carrières des Lumières– Les Baux de Provence
It’s difficult to explain this exhibition. Every year, a new theme is picked where moving projections of paintings are projected on the floors, walls and ceiling of the old bauxite quarry in Les Baux de Provence. It’s an immersive art experience. Just go! It’s amazing. (bring a sweater)
Hotel Caumont (until 29th of September)
Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Foundation
From Manet to Picasso: The Thannhauser Collection. The Hôtel de Caumont Art Centre will be presenting masterpieces from the Justin K. Thannhauser Collection, bequeathed in 1963 to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York.
Local Artisans Exhibition at Le Savoir Faire des Alpilles
See work by local artists and producers (including myself) at the Savoir Faire des Alpilles art collective in Saint Remy de Provence. You’ll find all kinds of products and art that represents this beautiful region of Provence.
May is all about fields of poppies- see my poppy cyanotypes, elderflower blossom, acacia blossom and the olive trees are flowering. In the markets, you’ll find in season asparagus, peas, strawberries, and artichokes.
Please feel free to add anything I’ve missed in the comments below. There’s lots going on!