Provence Christmas markets

Christmas markets are a relatively recent phenomenon in Provence. Apparently there was always a Christmas market, in certain places, for the sale of the little figurines,santons, used in Provencal cribs. The truffle market in Rognes is also part of the village patrimony according to the tourist office. But the modern markets selling terrible tack mixed in with some lovely hand crafts and wonderful foods, is very new. I visited several this year and here is a small selection of photographs. I will leave you to make up your own minds about Christmas markets in Provence.

  Les marchés de Noël sont un phénomène relativement récent en Provence. Apparemment, il y avait toujours un marché de Noël, à certains endroits, pour la vente des petites figurines, santons, utilisés dans les crèches. Le marché de la truffe à Rognes fait partie du patrimoine du village selon l’office du tourisme. Mais les marchés modernes de vente d’une mélangé de choses et de produits merveilleux, c’est très nouveau. J’ai visité plusieurs cette année et voici une petite sélection de photos. Je vous laisse vous faire votre propre idée sur les marchés de Noël en Provence..

                                                                                                                                  

Festival of Light – Fête de la Lumière in France

The Fête de la Lumière dates from 1643 when Lyon was threatened with the plague. The local councillors promised that Lyon would honour Mary, the mother of God, by placing lights along the window sills, if Lyon was spared the plague. Until relatively recently this was a simple festival of light. But due to the ease of modern travel the Fête de la Lumière of Lyon has become a huge tourist attraction. Close on 4 million tourists descend on Lyon for the four days of festivities which culminate on 8th december.

Villages around france have started to hold more modest festivals of light at the beginning of december. Our village festival began on 30th November when two of our local artists held a display of their work on a small hill on the boundary of the village. Claude is an artist in metal while Romu works in glass.

It was a beautiful night

 

 

Claude and Romu’s masterpieces

On the 1st of december we had a fireworks display on the village mill race. This was preceded by the children floating their homemade boats, equipped with night lights, on the water.

The children’s boats

A “vin chaud” accompanied the whole affair.

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The Irish in France

Sometimes we Irish can be very proud of some of the things some of us do!

Chateau La Coste, in Provence, is just such a place. It is the brainchild of Paddy McKillen and his sister Mara Paula McKillen. Paddy bought a fairly modest bastide, albeit in existence since 1684, about ten years ago with its 130 hectares of vineyards. His sister Mara has been a long time resident in France. Trying to unravel the intricacies of this family is like trying to put together a million piece jigsaw.

Paddy first installed a whole new wine making team and with the assistance of French architect, Jean Nouvel, a couple of space age cellars. The steel covered half moon cellars resemble aeroplane hangars. Apparently there are three floors below ground. The clean steel line reminds me of another avant-garde cellar on South island New Zealand. The wine grown at Chateau La Coste now bears the “AB”  biological label. This is in keeping with Mr. McKillens ideals for his estate.

We didn’t visit the cellars as we objected to paying an additional 7€ for the pleasure. We had already paid the seniors entry fee of 9€ and ate a splendid lunch which cost about 30€ per head. We felt the extra couple of euro was a fee too far especially since we had intended buying some wine… Perhaps it is the enormous debt looming over Paddy McKillen’s head that prompted this charge. Mr. McKillen is, of course, the Irish property developer who is a part owner, among many other properties, of the Berkley, Connaught, and Claridges hotels in Londonin. His recent spat with the Barclay brothers, about his shares in these hotels, will cost him. apparently, about 25 million euro. He is also “in legal discussions” with NAMA, the Irish National Asset Management Agency, which was set up to absorb the bad debts of rogue (or sometimes not so rogue) developers during those years of borrowing excesses. Their “raison d’être” is to try to recover some of this virtual money for the Irish citizen.

After the wine making improvements, Mr McKillen turned his attention and his money to his sculpture park. The result is truly amazing. Some of the works are from his own collection but most have been installed by the artists themselves. The artist is invited to Chateau La Coste to spend some time getting familiar with the area and then they choose the spot for their work and the work begins. John Rocca, the Irish designer, is currently designing a Waterford cut glass chapel which will be unveiled soon. The park is a work in progress and long may it last. The visit takes about two hours depending on how much time you spend admiring the installations. I didn’t photograph every piece as in some cases the angle was wrong or in others the sun was in the wrong place. I look forward to a return visit to finish the job.

The artists involved include the following:

Tadao Ando and Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese), Sean Scully and Guggi (Irish), Tunga (Brazilian), Franz West (Austrian), Liam Gillick and Andy Goldsworthy (British), Alexander Calder and Richard Serra (American), Louise Bourgeoise (French),

You can see some more information and photos by clicking here

Pour ceux qui parlent français il y a un article dans le Figaro

 

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