What does January have to offer in Provence?
It’s true, the festive season is over and the weather has turned. Even Provence falls into deepest Winter. Temperatures fall and you bemoan the fact that you have a beautiful stone floor but no under floor heating! It’s too precious to tear up and lay a new floor so you suffer the drafts. The Scandinavians got it right by installing under floor heating as standard fitting! My advice being, if you are looking to rent a beautiful villa in Provence in January, remember to bring your slippers. This may not be the time to make your annual visit, but January offers some surprising traditions and events and deals to be had. After all, you are in what’s called the “low season” where prices drop reflecting perhaps a more realistic value.
If you’re looking for antiques, art and crafts, gilt-framed mirrors, crystal glassware, lighting, rugs, and leather sofas. silverware, table linen, second-hand books or farm-fresh market produce, you’re bound to find it in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Here there is an assortment of stand-alone shops and others organised in loose clusters, known as “villages”. These are basically high-class mini-malls based in atmospheric old former warehouses with stone walls and wooden beams or historic mansions. Some of these buildings have quite stark facades on the street, but don’t be fooled. Inside, they are treasure troves. Expensive in the summer, full of bargains in the Winter. See http://www.levillagedesantiquairesdelagare.com/en/
An old French tradition takes place in January, around the 6th for families and friends to gather again and mark the true end of the festive season by enjoying a pastry fit for kings- The Galette des Rois (King’s Cake) It’s basically a frangipane tart made with pastry, butter, ground almonds and a few extra ingredients. And in competition the bakeries also offer, the “Coron” or “Brioche des Rois”, a circular brioche with a hole in the middle covered with large lumps of icing sugar and cristalised fruits. Delicious! Inside each cake is a porcelain figure to be discovered, thereby crowning the winner “the king” with a paper crown to be worn by the person who discovers it, hopefully not loosing a tooth in the process!
And for entertainment, Avignon hosts the gala event “Cheval Passion”. In the heart of Winter this event makes Avignon the European centre of the equestrian world. With more than 1,000 horses, 250 exhibitors, numerous shows and animations all evolved in celebration of the horse, contests and exhibitions will follow one another at breakneck speed while at the Equestrian Cabaret and the Bodega, the atmosphere is 100% festive. From January 18-22 at the Avignon Exhibition Park, see http:// www.cheval-passion.com
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