Jackdaw Journeys Holiday Tour, November 27- December 7, 2022
Have you ever thought of traveling to Provence ( you know, the South of France or the Cote-de-Azure or the Riviera) during late November into early December? You might think that these months could be cold, windy or drizzly and you might be right! But, winter travel in Provence, in my opinion, can be the best season. If your travel goals are for a less expensive trip (airfares much cheaper), less crowded with tourists, more calming and rejuvenating, then Jackdaw Journeys Winter Holiday trip might be for you.
The southern area of France can have a mild temperature in the winter months hovering around 36-55 degrees Fahrenheit. There is little rain during the winter months. The days are shorter but the skies still have that azure blue color Provence is so well known for. Locals say there is a special smell about winter in Provence accented by the Mistral winds and the clean air. The Mistral can blow up any time of the year but I have never had the pleasure of meeting it.
I have noticed that during the winter months in Provence the cities and villages take on a different feeling. Some of the coastal cities, St. Tropez for example, reverts back to its original fishing village atmosphere. This quiet low key feeling is some times lost during peak tourist season. Winter travel allows you to see the cities and the local people in their everyday lives.
The beginning of December in Provence always means for me the celebration of the Christmas season, French style! Around December 4th, Provence kicks off the Christmas period called La Calendale. This day is the day of the patron saint, Sainte Barbe. All throughout the festive season, villages in Provence host Christmas markets, Santon Fairs, and Lighting Festivals. Most of the villages/towns, big and small, get a festive makeover for one month with hundreds of twinkling lights and bustling Christmas markets. Many of the holiday markets take place at night. The smell of fresh cut evergreens and mulled wines permeate the night air!
The holiday season in Provence is very different from our American Christmas season. There is little piped in Christmas music three months before Christmas throughout the malls and grocery shops. There is no huge emphasis put on gift giving but where you will see Christmas celebrated is in the Holiday foods. Butcher shop windows will be filled with geese, capons, chickens and of course turkeys all hanging up still wearing their feathers. The cheese vendor will sell only their most expensive, most aged and most stinky cheeses. You will see citrus everywhere and salt-cod and holiday sweets. And, one last thing, mulled wine is at every market. The mulled wines serve two purposes, they are delicious and keep the chill away at the night markets.
A winter visit to Provence will in no way negate your visit or diminish the special appeal of Provence. In fact with fewer people around you will feel like you are truly seeing the towns, villages and their people. Give yourself a holiday treat! Travel with Jackdaw Journeys on our winter tour and you might find yourself falling deeper in love with Provence. We did!