At the foot of the Alpilles mountains is a little town where traditions still have deep roots. A love of horses, of bull races, the colors of Van Gogh paintings and Provencal fabrics, fine produce like wine, olive oil and candied fruits, are all anchored in this land. Here everything is exceptionally beautiful and refined, and yet life passes by slowly in December, simply, in the heart of a winter of frosty mornings and cold days, but so sunny that it flaunts a sky of an even brighter blue than in high summer. Here, Christmas is celebrated without ostentation.
From the beginning of December a Christmas manger appears in every home, and little by little the delicacies that make up the Thirteen Desserts are prepared: dark nougat and quince paste are cooked at home with all the family and we wait for the “Petit Marché du Gros Souper” Christmas Market, to go, a day or two before Christmas, to buy the celery, the new season olive oil, cardoons, and snails that will make up the “Big Supper,” or Gros Souper on December 24, poorly named since it’s a meal with no meat. No meat, but snails “à la provençale,” salted cod gratin, cardoons with anchovy or white sauce, celery with anchoïade, and, for the return home after mass, the Thirteen Desserts! The Christmas market is the place to find all you need to prepare the traditional desserts.
Once again, these Thirteen Desserts were originally very simple: dried and winter fruits, quince paste, nougat and honey, mulled wine and olive oil “fougasse” or focaccia. Today, they’re magnificently indulgent, but it’s hardly surprising in Saint-Remy, where we find among its boutiques one of the best French confectioners, the Maison Lilamand, and the exceptional chocolate maker Joël Durand!
With Christmas approaching, the excitement associated with the festivities takes over young and old alike, and the inhabitants of Saint-Remy get together with joy between December 21 and 23 to listen to stories, Christmas carols and religious songs, applaud the Provençal dancing and go shopping at the “Petit Marché du Gros Souper”, the village's famous Christmas market. Inside the heated marquee, the stallholders showcase their produce and in their 19th-century dress speak enthusiastically of the Provence they love so dearly, the one that has kept its traditions alive !
Discover Office de TourismePlace Jean Jaurès, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-ProvenceT +33 (0)4 90 92 05 22www.saintremy-de-provence.comFor a Christmas filled with the colors of Provence, discover our gift ideas !