A Collection of Little Saints
Building your crèche, a crib or nativity, is a must for the people of Provence. In addition to the traditional biblical figures, crèches are filled with santons, or “little saints.” Originating from the Alpilles region, these tiny terracotta figurines are made to represent the nativity characters and professions, such as bakers, shepherds, and tailors. In 1793, during the French Revolution, nativity scenes and other holiday traditions were banned as an attack on the Church. Craftsmen sculpted the Holy Family in miniature and smuggled the figurines to the villagers so that they could celebrate in secret.
Every year locals buy new santons to add to their crèches from their Christmas Market. These petite figures are popular collectibles and make for a perfect souvenir. During your included Carpentras Christmas Markets excursion, visit the city’s famously intricate crèche and get a santon for yourself at the festive local Christmas Market!
The Cake of Kings
The galette des rois, or the Three King’s cake, is eaten throughout France to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. The delightful puff pastry cake filled with almond cream holds a tiny surprise. Great care must be taken as you eat this dessert because hidden inside is a fève (bean) or santon. Whoever gets the slice of cake that holds it is crowned as the king or queen. In Provence, the galette des rois comes in the form of a crown-shaped brioche, decorated with candied fruits and pearl sugar.
The Festival of Lights
(December 8-11, 2021. Please check back for 2022 dates.)
Every year, Lyon lights up for four nights. The renowned Fêtes des Lumières (Festival of Lights) draws millions of people to the city in order to watch as the buildings, streets, and river banks come to life with light. If your cruise overlaps with this astonishing festival, watch the dreamlike projections of colorful images and videos while your ship is docked in Lyon on select sailings during the event.
With delicious cuisine, enchanting traditions, and festive markets, Provence certainly knows how to celebrate the Christmas season. Cruise through the South of France to experience these local delights for yourself!
Contact your preferred travel advisor to celebrate the Joyeuse Fêtes on your Colors of Provence Christmas itinerary, during our inaugural season in 2021.