Although Provence is more famous as a spring and summer travel destination, Mr. TWS and I discovered that December is a wonderful time to visit this region in the south of France, especially to experience its Christmas traditions and festivities.
Of all the Provençal Christmas traditions that Mr. TWS and I learned about during our France trip last December, the santons (“little saints”) impressed us the most. We came away with an appreciation for the art and craft of these clay figurines created by santonniers and for their importance in the culture as a tradition passed down through generations.
“Marseille is a way of life”. It’s the playing of pétanque (similar to bocce), the imbibing of pastis (an anise liqueur developed in Marseille as a substitute for the banned absinthe in 1915), the savoring of Bouillabaisse (for which Marseille is famous), and a certain “joie de vivre”. It is also a way of life that embraces the diversity of this melting pot on the Mediterranean and its rich culture, history, and art — giving an ample number of reasons for its designation as a 2013 European Capital of Culture.
“Qu’a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, pou dire: n’ai rèn vist,”
“He who has seen Paris and who has not seen Cassis can say … I have seen nothing.” Frédéric Mistral (1830 – 1914), beloved Provençal poet and Nobel Prize laureate
After just a few hours in this village on the Mediterranean coast, I began to understand.