Villages of Provence
The villages of Provence are still alive with the spirit.
Let's set the stage! The villages of Provence often and rightly evoke the typical atmosphere portrayed in the films of the great Marcel Pagnol. In fact, some of them - Saint Rémy de Provence, Eygalières and Fuveau, where 'The Well Digger's Daughter' was shot in 1940 - have been the locations for various famous movies. The villages have changed over the years, but they are still redolent with the very special ambience of the South.
Our Provencal villages are simply sublime – the world's finest in fact! And if people throughout the world envy them, there's a good reason…
Each village has its own special personality. Some are built perched on rocky spurs and offer exceptional vistas, while other spread out over the plains.
Our seaside villages, whether resorts or fishing harbours, are totally picturesque too.
But all of them are typified by their muddle of sometimes very-steep little lanes – most are very narrow too, which makes it easier to parley with the neighbours… You may well come across a gran, nan and snoring cat sitting in front of their door.
The village entrance is typically lined with chestnut, plane, or lime trees bedecked with chirping cicadas. Then you'll come to the pretty fountain or sometimes an ancient stone washtub – it may look like someone put it there as a decoration but no, it's all genuine!
A lot of local shops have now disappeared from our villages, but you'll still find a boulangerie where you can buy delicious bread and savoury 'fougasses', a little grocery store for bits and pieces and a bar resembling a remake of Pagnol's famous 'card game' scene, where you'll find people noisily debating the Olypique de Marseille's latest performance around a Pastis.
Sometimes, depending on the size of the village, you'll find a market on the square where locals buy up fresh vegetables for their ratatouille and fine sea bass from the fish truck.
And during your stroll, you may well come across a designer shop or arts & crafts studio hiding around a corner…
A provencal alley
Dive in! There's nothing like a full immersion in village life to get you in the Provence mood and enjoy plenty of fun moments – just like the ones you see in the Pagnol films!
Most things happen on the village square. This is where everyone gets together for traditional celebrations around a beef stew, tripe & trotters, aïoli, sardine banquet or roast chestnuts, depending on the season.
There's nothing like a game of boules to digest your meal but beware - 'la pétanque' is not to be taken lightly here! You point or you shoot, but you never muck around… And to round up the day in a fun way, we light up lanterns, dance the 'farandole' with the kids around the Saint John's Eve bonfires in summer and dress up for carnival in winter.
Although they are more modern nowadays, our villages still exhale the heart and soul of Provence and our villagers are committed to upholding their traditions and lifestyle.
Every village has a story to tell - whether big or small, mysterious or scandalous - and its own 'Pagnolesque' local figures. You can enjoy one of the regular guided tours organised by town councils and tourist offices to glean an insight into their secrets and plunge into the days of Pagnol…
An old and picturesque village
He who has seen Paris but not Cassis can say they have seen nothing
"Ma Cigale est Fantastique" introduces you to the very best the South of France and Provence have to offer. "Ma Cigale" shares a hand-picked selection of cultural, touristic and gastronomic events and unveils a host of Made in Provence gems, tips and top addresses. A must!
Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us!
A gourmet treat…
Provence has been famed for its candied fruit from time immemorial. In the early 16th century, the region was fairly impoverished. Fruit grew here in abundance, but much of it was lost every year.
In a sauce or salad, red is the colour!
Not having qualifications doesn't mean your life is ruined
Can anyone resist an almond? Everyone raves about these little nuggets of happiness you can savour every which way – fresh, dried, whole, grilled, sliced, ground or made into a cream or milk!
The Gourmet's New Eldorado
It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago
It all starts with a crushed clove...
Provencal cuisine simply wouldn't exist without garlic
Francis lived happily close beside his tree...
Picked ripe from the tree, figs are simply to die for. They can also be scattered on trays and left to dry in the sun for 3 days: "That's the best way to keep your figs all winter – we serve figs at Christmas as one of Provence's famous 13 Desserts," smiles Jacqueline Honoré.
A story that will make you turn to jelly...
As yellow as sunshine and as warm as a winter fireplace... The quince isn't very pretty, but the people of Provence love it. You could even say that a passion has been born between this irregular-shaped fruit, somewhat resembling a dented, rustic pear and our lovers of jams, jellies and pastes.
When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).