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Food is a major player in the annual calendar, tracing the harvests throughout the fruit and veggie capitals in the south of France. The lemon is honored in Menton with a citrus sculpture fest, paraded through the town each Sunday during February every year, on gigantic , kitsch, fruity floats based on popular cartoon and fairytale character, one of the themes was Pinocchio.

The Uzes garlic fair on June 24, when the village is piled with bulbous, purple cloves and a flame is carried at night from one village to the other up to Mont Ventoux. This celebration has wafted through Provencal history since 1571, when it received its letters patent from Charles IX.

The melon celebration, or” the brotherhood  of the knights of the order of the melons of Cavaillon“, are enthroned in July for the Melon Festival in the town where the writer Alexander Dumas offered 300 hundred copies of his work in exchange of an annuity of 12 Cavaillon melons a year.

Arles starts the harvest of the Camargue rice in September with La Fete des Premices du Riz, staging bullfights in the ancient arena, and a grand corso – A parade of decorated floats led by the Ambassadrice du Riz on a Camargue Pony.

The soup festival in Vaison la Romaine will keep you warm through October and November.

The Autumn chesnut harvest in Les Maures is celebrated in Collobrieres, marrons glaces Capital de la France.

Winter truffles are very big news. Le Marche aux Truffes  at Rognes features Minstrels , cheered by the astronomical truffle prices. In January , St Antoine patron  Saint of truffle hunters, is blessed in the church at Richerences in the Drome by the confrerery des Chevaliers du diamont Noir.

In November is the start of the Olive Oil pressing  season is accompanied by costumed Arlesiennes, Gardians on horseback and also an olive spitting competition at Mouries in the vallee des Baux later holding Huiles -primeurs in December, when the new oil harvest is baptised.

In January and February, the fishing villages of Sausset-les-pins and Carrie-le-Rousset on the blue coast, a rocky stretch between Marseilles and Martigues celebrate the prickly sea urchin in the Ousinades, communal feasts on the quayside.

During the September recoltes, wine flows freely, with a wine festival in Cassis and blessing  of the vines. Also go to Chateauneuf du Pape and other prime cote du Rhone villages at the end of May and early June.

On the first Sunday in December, La Fete du Millesime takes place in the port de Bandol. 52 vintners bring keg-loads of their three- month -old wines for a public tasting, before putting them in wooden casks for 18 months.

The ultimate gourmet activity is Christmas. For the traditional Christmas eve dinner, the Provencal table offers 13 desserts that symbolize Christ and the twelve apostoles and are also a gathering of the region’s fruits and sweets. the desserts are La pompe a l’huile , a biscuit made with olive oil and fleur d’oranger ( Flower water); white and dark nougat. Les quatre mendiants, ( the four mendicant orders) Hazelnut for Augustine Friars, figs for Franciscans, almonds for Carmelites,raisins for Dominicans) and fresh fruits: dates , oranges, mandarins, apples,pears and grapes. Local specialties such as Callissons d’Aix, melon or candied fruits, are very often substituted for one element or the other.

Anne Suire

www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com

Truffle, black diamond.

Truffle, black diamond.

Blessing of the truffle in Richerenches

Blessing of the truffle in Richerenches

Chesnut in the bulb

Chesnut in the bulb

Roasting Chesnuts.

Roasting Chesnuts.

Camargue rice harvest

Camargue rice harvest

Garlic harvest in Uzes

Garlic harvest in Uzes

fete de la Soupe in Vaison la Romaine

fete de la Soupe in Vaison la Romaine

Blessing of the truffle

Blessing of the truffle

Festival de la soupe, Vaison la Romaine

Festival de la soupe, Vaison la Romaine

Rice dish.

Rice dish.

Garlic festival in Uzes.

Garlic festival in Uzes.