Arts and Traditions

This section of the site covers the arts and cultural traditions of Provence: painting, music, opera, cinema, photography and everything from the cult of the cicada and Christmas santons to the Tarot de Marseille and a little lexicon of lavender. Click here to read about the remarkable Château La Coste winery and art trail near Aix en Provence.

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Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman.....The fabulous landscapes and remarkable characters of Provence have inspired some great films - so why not snuggle down and dream of the South with a classic movie?

The Off Festival smallEach July, the entire city of Avignon turns into a gorgeous giant theatre. Founded in 1947, it today has two strands, the main festival (the "In") and the fringe (the "Off"). The date of the 2017 "In" is 6-26 July. The "Off is 7-30 July.

Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix en Provence logoAix's Festival of Lyric Art is one of the cultural highlights of the year in Provence and its open-air performances in the balmy midsummer nights are magical occasions.

A ceramic or pottery cigale (cicada)Love them or loathe them, you can't escape cicadas, or cigales as they're known locally, if you come to Provence in high summer. But there's much more to the cicada than just a raucous din.

Indiennes provencal fabric, with cicadasOne of the prettiest, most evocative - and cheapest - souvenirs you can buy in Provence are the traditional fabrics known locally as “les indiennes”.

The pastrage at Les Baux de ProvenceThe cities of Northern and Central Europe are more famous for their Christmas markets, but this is also a magical season in Provence.

Santon of a peasant woman holding a pompe a l'huileNot simply tourist trinkets, these Christmas crib figures are an authentic folk tradition, and many provençal homes still maintain elaborate Nativity cribs today.

Savon de MarseilleYou can't mistake an authentic bar of Marseille soap. Olive green or creamy white, it's a large, perfect cube, embossed on all six faces, with no added perfume or fancy packaging. Here is our essential guide to one of the city's most famous products.

Daniel AuteuilThe veteran French film star Daniel Auteuil just can't seem to tear himself away from his passion for Marcel Pagnol.

Provencal table laid for the Great Supper on Christmas EveForget roast turkey and mince pies: Provence has its own very different but equally delicious festive foods and eating traditions at Christmas.

Actors playing a scene from Manon des SourcesWhether you're a keen hiker or a fan of Pagnol, here's a unique experience. An all-day walk / theatrical performance takes you into the wild, craggy hills of Aubagne and the dark, comic heart of the writer's world, which actors bring to thrilling life.

Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat station by the Lumiere BrothersLa Ciotat calls itself the cradle of cinema, with justification. The pioneering Lumière Brothers made their first films here and its Eden Théâtre claims to be the world's oldest surviving public cinema.

The wheat of Saint Barbara (le blé de la Sainte Barbe)Stand by for a long Christmas season - known locally as La Calendale - in Provence! People here love to celebrate, and for as long as possible, and the Calendale runs almost two months.

Ballet PreljocajAix en Provence is home to one of the world's leading choreographers, Angelin Preljocaj, whose company, Ballet Preljocaj, is based in its own stunning, purpose-built premises, the Pavillon Noir.

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