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Secrets of Provence- Christmas moment made in Provence

Tour in Provence  ,the origin of Santon was in 1789. The churches were closed so we could not get close to the Nativity (Jesus, Mary, Joseph) for Christmas. In Provence residents then had the idea of making little saints become “Santon”) at home.Visit the “crèches ” with ProvenceFrench Riviera Tourism
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CHRISTMAS Calendale days from December 4th  to February 2nd, – THE SANTONS – CHRISTMAS MARKET 



Nativity scenes have been a regular fixture in many churches in France and specially in the south of France. They represent the birth of Jesus in a stable (or a cave) in the little town of Bethlehem in Judea. The figures from small to life-size and are placed in a poetic setting inspired by local life.The figurines of a Nativity scene are called ‘Santons’, which means ‘little saints’ in Provençal dialect. This small hand-painted, terracotta figurine represent various characters from the life of a Provençal village  in Provence et French Riviera.

French Moments  Christmas in Provence Christmas markets in France are small villages made  of wood (called chalets). They are usually located in the main square or street of a town. They officially start on the first weekend of the Advent that is 4 Sundays before the 25th December. Christmas markets in France sell decorations, local products  ,” santons” ,and  don’t forget the  “vin chaud” (mulled wine), Christmas cakes, biscuits and gingerbread. Discover the history of over 1000 years in Ansouis, the castle throne, formerly owned by the Sabran family whose origins date back to the same formation Provence County. Do not miss the workshop and crèche santonnier Galli, “best santonnier of France.” Discover the hilltop village of SaignonBonnieux like a village nursery, Villars for the Living Nativity, and Saint Saturnin les Apt, allow you to discover the mysteries of the Middle Ages.

 In the church, the villagers have a giant nativity scene, composed of dozens of dressed figurines. You will make a stop at the Julien family oil mill oil where you can enjoy a high quality olive oil with an artichoke flavour and containing almond and dried fruit, grown in the Luberon.
Travel back to Apt to visit the Cathedral of Saint Anne and its period Merovingian crypts, built by the first Christians. You will stroll through the streets of downtown to meet several specialized bakers in the manufacture of Christmas breads: focaccia with olives, to grattelons, gibaciés, pumps oil with anise… Apt is the world capital of candied fruits, which are among the 13 traditional Christmas desserts.
  Visit the factory of candied fruit Kerry Aptunion.
 At night, enjoy the lights of the Christmas Blachere Company, who have for 40 years been the European leader who illuminated the city like no other. The shop of the company is open to the public. Come see the little church of Sainte Croix, a pretty “Crèche” Castellet in Luberon. People create a circuit of ” Crèche ” in the heart of the village, where the streets are decorated with personal and original cribs.
Lourmarin has a castle from the XV th and XVI th centuries which is worth visiting (optional) with its curious staircases and beautifully furnished apartments. Albert Camus, Nobel Prize winner for literature, lived and wrote in Lourmarin and was buried in the village cemetery.

Lunch is at your discretion (restaurant selection in travel notes)

Diner in Aix en Provence in hotel of 3 or 4 **** according to option chosen

Aix en Provence Accommodation in hotel 3 or 4 **** according to the option chosen

DAY 2: AIX EN PROVENCE – Figurines and Traditions


The kalends season begins on December 4th, the day of St. Barbara. It ends on February 2nd, Candlemas Day. On December 4th, the family leaves the crib and begins to install it. Then places all the characters except the Nativity and the Magi. That day, the corn is also planted and is cut on Dec. 24th in the evening during the vigil calendale on Christmas Day. - The Santon Fouque represents four generations of Santon. In 1952 the “Coup de Mistral” was created, an emblem of the house.
The character conveys a strong message of its location: it is bent, the fight against mistral does not weaken it. This shows that we must go forward, fight and never relent. This revolutionized Santon is considered to be the art of Santon. It is now well known and collected worldwide. La Fouque house is home to the largest collection known to date, all shaped by one of the members of the Fouque family. Discover Aix en Provence which is surrounded by unspoilt countryside with authentic Provencal houses surrounded by fragrant gardens. Its name comes from the hot springs discovered in the foundation of the city in 123 BC by the Romans. A city of art and culture, Aix veritable outdoor museum has a rich architectural heritage which has been beautifully restored. The elegance of Aix and the region are found in the chic boutiques of Mazarin district.
 Guided tour of Aix-en-Provence.
 The city tour is done only on foot and takes about 2 hours.
Finally tasting morning at Calissons Leonard Parli Confectionery in Aix-en-Provence. Carole Fracalosso welcomes you to craft factory Calissons Leonard Parli tell you the history of marzipan and will make you taste the dessert, an emblematic of the city of Aix en Provence which is part of the 13 Christmas desserts. The afternoon is free to enjoy to discover the stalls santonniers situated next to the Tourist Office. The Cours Mirabeau hosts each December the Christmas market and illuminated chalets. There are many animations for children and Father Christmas awaits them.
The 13 desserts Market (2nd half of December) brings together all the Mediterranean culinary tradition. Every year from October to April, the House Fouque exposes tables of 13 life-size desserts, and characters in period costumes … The exhibition “summer in Provence” is available from April to September and reconstructs typical scenes of life in Provence (free visit).

Lunch is at your discretion (restaurant selection in travel notes)

Diner in Aix en Provence in hotel of 3 or 4 **** according to option chosen

Aix en Provence Accommodation in hotel 3 or 4 **** according to the option chosen



The landscapes of Garlaban have been made ​​famous by Marcel Pagnol born in Aubagne (he is buried in the cemetery of La Treille, site located between Aubagne and Allauch. His novels include The Glory of My Father and My Mother’s Castle retranscrivaient holiday. Garlaban also served as a filming location for many films: Angèle , Regain (from Jean Giono),Manon des Sources … Discover on a morning visit Aubagne, the capital of Santon and a farm which specialises in the breeding of goats bush tasting of origin “bush Rove ”. Farmers produce La Cabro gold products which include goat’s cheese and bush Rove. Stop in the centre of Aubagne, where for Christmas parties, you must see the manger of the “Little World of Pagnol ”and the large “Crèche” Foch Course (from 20/12).
 Visits to the museum of Santon Di Landro is included and is where you will discover all the tricks and “knacks” to make a dressed santon. Touring a soap factory of the famous Marseille soap (the mark  horseshoe  soap of Marseille)

Lunch is at your discretion (restaurant selection in travel notes)

Diner hotel in Marseille 3 or 4 **** according to the option chosen

Aix en Provence Accommodation in hotel 3 or 4 **** according to option chosen



Allauch from December to January in the animated Orsini “Crèche” with a black light (laser crèche) includes over 450 animated figurines, one thirty, a festival of colours and lights for the eyes! On December 24th, the bells ring, the shepherds sing for joy in the hills, sheep herds down to the light of torches , a live nativity scene comes alive with sound and light to the sound of fifes and drums. Throughout the month of January the Pastoral Local theatre gives a Provençal alternative version of the Nativity.
Cassis at Christmas, is magical.  The city of Cassis has 300 days of sunshine a year, and can experience a white Christmas occasionally. Throughout the month of December the city offers a rich and varied entertainment program. Christmas market, exhibitions, shopping, accommodation, gastronomy: a real Provencal Christmas at the edge of the Mediterranean.  Discovery In Marseille, Notre-Dame de la Garde dominates and watches over the city, Marseille is an unexpected mosaic of buildings and monuments.
The Abbey of Saint-Victor houses the crypt which saw the birth of Christianity in Provence. Throughout the city rises the triumphal architecture of the XIX th century which witnessed the splendour of commerce that time. The sea at your feet!
 You will discover the most charming parts of Marseille with authentic sheds completely restored by the fisherman … The Auffes valley, the Goudes…. Not forgetting the Château d’If and the islands of Frioul. Going up the Canebière you will be quickly attracted and caught by the old Santon Market Area (free time to visit). As of December 21st you can admire the living “Crèche” of our Lady of the Guard. 
The 24 hour City Pass allows you to discover the city of contrasts with its old districts (Le Panier near the old port), the Abbey of St Victor and surrounding neighbourhood, Notre Dame de la Garde (little blue train), patron saint of sailors is enthroned at 162m above sea and watches over the city facing the sea , unlimited and free access to the entire network of public transport in Marseille (Tram, Bus, Metro), the boat trip to the Château d’If and its legend of the Count of Monte Cristo , the little train of Our Lady of the Guard, museum tickets, and many discounts Tasting of a  Provencale galette des Rois: very different from the puff cake, the  Provencal cake of kings consists of a kind of crown-shaped brioche topped with candied fruit.
Candlemas on February 2nd bringsour families the end of the Christmas festivities and then came the time to disassemble the cribs installed two months earlier. This is the time of pancakes. Candlemas is also currently in Provence the famous shuttle St Victor , the name of the Abbey St Victor of Marseille where green candles blessed the day of Candlemas.

Lunch is at your discretion (restaurant selection in travel notes)

Bouillabaisse Gourmet diner 

Marseille hotel accommodation in 3 or 4 **** according to the chosen category



Free morning for relaxation check out at 12 H 00
DEPART ON THE BASIS OF 2 PEOPLE on the date of your choice

* Car Rental 5 days: Pick up and drop off from the airport or train station includes unlimited mileage and unlimited mileage (optional: possibility to rent a car with driver who can act as a guide on request – guide in your language)
* 4 nights breakfast in the hotels category selected 3 or 4 ****
* Tasting of a galette des Rois Provençale candied fruit
* 1 gourmet diner at Bouillabaisse 
* Visit a Callissons factory
* Visit a factory of candied fruits in Apt 
* Visit an oil mill of the Julian family with oil tasting
* Guided tour of Aix en Provence (2 hours) * Tour of the House Fouque Santon in Aix en Provence
* Visit a goat breeding farm and bush, bush appellation tasting “rove the bush”
* Visit to a factory and the Santon Museum Di Landro in Aubagne
*  Visit a soap factory of the famous “soap of Marseille”
* Individual visits indicated in the program
* 24 hour Marseille City pass

* The airport transfer or other transfer services(between the hotels and airport, train station etc) – According to your time of arrival or departure you might need to plan an additional night – We are able to receive you and send you anywhere you wish in France(an airport, a train station, or a street…)
* Meals except for the ones specified above
* Beverages other than the ones specified above
* The hotel taxes (city tax or others)
* Tips, Personal expenses and any extra arrangements
* As marked in the Fuel Policies of Car hire companies, your vehicle will be supplied with a full tank of fuel and must be returned full, missing fuel will be charged on your return.
* Cancellation fees
* Anything not mentioned under “The price includes”


TAXES Hotel taxes are not included in our programs, they are variable, and will be demanded directly by the hotels before your leaving. The taxes can be different between the hotels even if they are in a same standard or have same stars.

CANCELLATION IN HIGH SEASONS Regardless of the cancellation fees set out in our terms and conditions,  some providers and hotels may apply different rules in high seasons. These terms of payment and cancellation will be specified in each reservation.  You will be  informed  right after your booking . It happens that the hotels require the total booking value in case of cancellation.

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