In Paris, standing by the Arc de Triomphe looking down the Champs Elysees towards the Place de la Concorde at Christmastime, the scene is magical! The trees on each side of the grand boulevard glitter with lights, and the Christmas trees and reindeer in snow scenes glitter at intersections along the way. At the other end of lighted Ferris Wheel near the Place de la Concorde completes the picture, while richly decorated shop windows along the way adds to the festive atmosphere. Shoppers and visitors to Paris, line the sidewalks until late into the evening.
|I have always loved this scene of the Champs Elysees at Christmas, but sadly this is not my picture, I found it on a great blog - blog.paris-on-demand.com|
|Welcome to Avignon Christmas Market in the Place de l'Horloge|
Avignon and its Place de l'Horloge bordered by sidewalk restaurants and completely filled with the wooden chalet Chrismas Market. As you make your way towards the Town Hall, the streams of lights and beautiful Carousel is quite breath taking.
What is 10 meters tall, glowing red and white, and sits in the middle of a Roundabout, at a busy freeway off ramp in Avignon?
|Thanks Corinne for this great photo!|
Pere Noel .... of Course!
I couldn't resist this picture that one of my Facebook friends, le Festin de Corinne ** posted last week - and she very kindly gave me permission to post here.
Hard to miss - a 33ft tall Santa Claus or le Pere Noel, as he is known in France, sitting in the middle of the Rond Point (Roundabout), leading to one of Avignon's busiest Shopping
Malls - the Centre Commerciale at Le Pontet.
Can you imagine the delight on the faces of children when they see this display?
|The Cours Mirabeau under a canopy of lights for its entire length from the fountain all the way to the center of town|
In Aix-en-Provence - the "Paris of the South", the beautiful Cours Mirabeau - Aix's grand boulevard is lit by a canopy of lights from the (grand) fountain at its beginning, all the way to end in the town's shopping/dining district. Both sides of the boulevard are lined with little wooden chalets - all a part of the Aix Christmas Market, that stay open well into the evening. The town bustles with restaurants full of diners and the shop windows sparkle with colored lights that decorate their displays.
|Trees are lighted in the Place du Montfort - Vaison la Romaine|
In the smaller towns such as Vaison la Romaine and Carpentras, trees are lighted, shop windows decorated and there are lots of street decorations - But - in the small villages of Provence, it's the residents who make decorating their village very much a community activity.
Beginning in early December, you see groups of neighbors placing red hand made bows and other decorations on street signs and buildings. I was amazed at the community spirit, as I watched a group of residents decorating their corner of the road between Vacqueyras and Sablet with bows and holly one evening in early December. They were having so much fun - talking and laughing, as they made their way down the road hanging bows and attaching sprigs of holly as they went. The owners of the row of houses on that main street, had pinned bows on shutters and all the way along their front fences and placed their Christmas trees by the front windows so that the twinkling lights could be seen from the road, while the town had a set of lights greeting towns visitors with "Joyeuses Fetes" (Happy Holidays).
|Madame Bonnet our Fleuriste in Sablet always has a pretty display of Christmas plants and flower arrangements|
In our village of Sablet, there is a lighted Christmas tree in the Village Square right outside the Maison de Retraite (Retirement Home), and local artists decorate the shop windows with Christmas bells, holly, Christmas trees and ribbons.
|At the Boulangerie in Sablet, there's always a great selection of Christmas breads and pastries|
|In Sablet, the Cafe des Sports and Pizza Comme Di have their windows colorfully decorated, inviting Patrons to come join into the festivities|
In Seguret, our closest neighboring village, shop windows are also decorated and residents decorate their homes on the outside, to add to the festive atmosphere in the village.
|In Seguret, residents along the main street in the village decorate the exteriors with garlands, bows and a lighted star.|
|Seguret - homes in the main street decorate their windows with garlands and hang decorations on the potted plants outside.|
The thing that I enjoy most of all about Christmas in Provence, is spending time with our friends and neighbors. Provence is great in the Summer, lots of activity and bustle, but in the Winter and around Christmas time, there is time to relax. It seems that every evening we were with a group of neighbors who invited us to join them for aperitif or dinner or in one case a birthday party. It is a great time to wind down and have fun with family and friends, great food and great wine.
**Le Festin de Corinne - Corinne is a chef who specializes in Provencal Cuisine and holds cooking classes in Mazan, a village near Sablet. Corinne also is available as a personal chef if you would like to treat yourself to a very special dinner "chez vous" when you are in Provence, or .... have a cooking class in your home (or vacation home). You can learn more about Corinne and find some wonderful recipes at her website: