Provence is a region in the south-east of France where the sun shines, the cicadas sing and the fields of lavender stretch as far as the eye can see. This month, we are offering you a glance into this region’s rich history and culture which you will have the occasion to discover while on your French language camp in Antibes.
The santons are the emblem of Provence and represent a craft tradition still going on strong today. The santons are small figurines, made of painted terracotta, and representing the Nativity of Jesus Christ but also all the members of a typical Provençal village: the baker, the blind man, the mayor, etc. The santons are an integral part of Christmas celebrations, along with many other traditions such as the thirteen desserts. French language camps in France are an excellent way to discover all these Provençal traditions.
Provence has inspired many artists and writers. The painters Braque, Chagall, and Cézanne among others, have stayed there — sometimes for many years — to produce some of their most beautiful paintings. In literature, the best-known author to have told stories of Provence is certainly Marcel Pagnol. His books have also been adapted for film. But there is a plethora of Provençal authors, writing in their local dialect. The most celebrated in Provence is surely Frédéric Mistral (and no, that is not a pseudonym!). Many streets and cultural centers in the south-east of France are named after him. Provence is full of cultural sites and museums that are an excellent complement to a French language stay on the French Riviera.
Eloi (Saint Eligius) died in 659. He was canonized and designated patron saints of goldsmiths and coin collectors. One of the most famous and ancient French parody songs – Le Bon Roi Dagobert - tells a fictitious exchange between Saint Eligius and King Dagobert. Every July, the Saint Eloi is celebrated in the villages of Provence. Participants wear period costumes and adorn chariots and horses in green and white. The horses and mules participate in a cavalcade through the cobblestoned streets and are then blessed by the priest. Other traditional festivals in Provence include the festivities of Tarasque, and the festival of the Gardians (Provençal “cowboys” from Camargue). Embarking on a French summer camp - and especially on the French Riviera - is the best way to discover the many historical and cultural treasures Provence has to offer!