Provence in December

Old Dec 27th, 2022, 01:49 PM
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Provence in December

Our daughter who lives in Provence had a business trip in early December. So we flew to Provence the day after Thanksgiving to stay for a couple weeks and help our son-in-law with our grandchildren, such as bring them to school, pick them up after school, bring them to their activities, make meals, etc. It was fun and gave us the opportunity to really see what their days/routines are like in France. During the day, while our grandchildren were in school, my husband and I re-visited some of our favorite villages, and visited 2 new villages. Our destinations included Marseilles, L’Isle Sur La Sorgue, Eygalieres, St. Remy, Aix en Provence, Cassis, and Bonnieux (for the first time) and a very brief stop in LaCoste.

The temps were usually chilly in the early mornings but some days would warm up enough so that we could have coffee and/or lunch outdoors. The last week was colder and rainier. For people who might consider visiting Provence in December, I wore a winter jacket and usually needed a scarf and gloves. As to be expected, the villages were not crowded at all.

We visited several Christmas markets but I notice that there weren’t that many Christmas decorations or ornaments. My daughter told me that most people put up a Christmas tree, but that is really about it. We didn’t see any outdoor Christmas lights in the homes, but many villages decorated their town centers with lights. It definitely is not over the top decorating like the U.S.
​​​​​​

First up is Marseilles!

We spent a day in Marseilles with our son-in-law and grandchildren, and it was wonderful! First we took our time strolling through Le Panier, Marseille’s oldest quarter, and the site of the original Greek settlement. I love this neighborhood! It has a village-like feel to it and an artsy ambience with its numerous graffiti, which I found so interesting. There are steep streets, homes, playgrounds (which our grandchildren enjoyed) and a gritty look with all the graffiti.

After leaving Le Panier, we walked around the Vieux Port for awhile, and then took the 2-minute ferry across the port to a tagine restaurant where we wanted lunch. We had a delicious meal at La Souk. All of us enjoyed what we ordered. We sat outside under a tent with sides and a heater but we really didn’t need the heater.

After lunch, we walked over to the area near the MuCEM where there is a new museum called Cosquer Mediterranee – The Prehistoric Cave Under the Sea. This is a reproduction of underwater caves that were discovered about 30 years ago. Photos are not allowed. This is amazing! You ride in “cars” that hold up to 5 people each, and the cars take you through the reproduction of these caves. Audioguides are provided and the descriptions and information of what you are seeing is fascinating. Our grandchildren loved it, as did we! I highly recommend this museum. We purchased tickets several days in advance online.

https://www.grotte-cosquer.com/








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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 01:57 PM
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Please sign me up, KarenWoo. What a great way to visit and be immersed in daily life. More!
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 01:57 PM
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Beautiful mural in Le Panier neighborhood in Marseilles

More wonderful artwork in Le Panier

Le Panier - such an interesting neighborhood

Graffiti in Le Panier

Streets of Le Panier

Cafe in Le Panier

More interesting artwork
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 03:02 PM
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Homes in Le Panier neighborhood

This view is taken from the neighborhood playground

Another view of houses

More interesting graffiti

One of my favorites!
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 03:06 PM
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Vieux Port in Marseilles

Vieux Port in Marseilles

Another view of the Old Port

Reflections

Mirror Image (along side the Port)

Vieux Port in Marseilles
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 03:32 PM
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Menu from La Souk, a Morroccan restaurant where we had lunch

We all loved our dishes at La Souk. I didn't write down what we ordered; it was a variety of couscous dishes and tagine dishes.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 04:16 PM
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Another delightful TR Karen, waiting for the next installment. Marseilles is one of my fav cities, especially the old part of town. Gritty, but oh so very interesting to wander around! Happy you’re getting another taste of Provence and also spending time with the grandkids, have a fabulous time and tell us all about it…😊
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 04:46 PM
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Thank you so much! Love the photos, the murals, the reflections and water, and food. Everything!
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 06:44 PM
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Thank you geetika and Sassafrass for your kind comments. I didn't take any notes so I am writing this based on memory, photos, and receipts. I don't always remember what we ordered for meals but we didn't have any bad meals at all on this trip.
Geetika, I agree with you about Marseille; gritty but oh so very interesting, especially the Le Panier neighborhood!
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 07:05 PM
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Lovely L’Isle Sur La Sorgue

We have visited L’Isle Sur La Sorgue on both of its market days in the past: Thursdays and Sundays. The market is fabulous with tons of vendors. Sunday is the big market day with antique vendors as well. I do not recommend going to the Sunday market. We did that once, and the crowds were horrific! It was next to impossible to find parking, and you are elbow to elbow with people at the market. Our French son-in-law emphatically said “Never on a Sunday” again. Thursdays are crowded, too, during the nice weather but not as busy as Sunday. If you are here in December, then perhaps you might want to give Sunday a try.

L'Isle Sur la Sorgue is surrounded by a moat of flowing water, and giant water wheels line the canals. During the Middle Ages, the village was the most important industrial center for wool in the region. And until the mid 20th century, other industries flourished here, too, such as wool, silk, and flour.

The village is very picturesque with the canals and water wheels, and is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of Provence.” On this trip we visited Our Lady of Angels Church for the first time. It’s located in Place de La Liberte in the heart of Old Town. The interior of the church is beautiful, a blend of Baroque and Southern Gothic styles. It’s on the list of historic monuments, and is well worth a visit.

On this trip, we first visited on a Tuesday (not a market day) so it was interesting to see the city without all the vendors’ stalls. We did some Christmas shopping, visited the church, and had a delicious lunch at Le Nego along the canal. The day started off foggy and chilly but by lunch time the sun was out and it was very comfortable. So we had lunch outdoors in December! What a treat! That never happens in New England, that’s for sure! I even removed my winter jacket. I ordered a delicious salad with charcuterie and baked cheese (I forgot what kind of cheese) with an onion jam on top that was delicious and probably not as healthy as I thought it would be. I think my husband ordered a lamb dish.

I was looking for something specific for our daughter but didn’t find it in any of the stores, so we returned on Thursday for the market and I found exactly what I was looking for. The market on Thursday in December is much, much smaller than the warmer weather months, but it was still enjoyable and I found what I wanted.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 07:08 PM
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Water wheels on a chilly, foggy morning in December in L'isle Sur La Sorgue

Street scene in L'Isle Sur La Sorgue

Another street scene

A very pretty display

Pretty table tops
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 07:16 PM
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Along the canal in L'Isle Sur La Sorgue

Canal scene

Dining al fresco

Interior of Our Lady of Angels Church - there are 122 gold angels inside the church

Our Lady of Angels Church

Beautiful Our Lady of Angels Church - the altar

I love the dramatic ceiling!
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 07:23 PM
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My delicious salad at Le Nego Restaurant along the canal

My husband's lunch - Lamb, I think?

Sun shining on the water wheels

The water wheels add so much interest to the village.

Pretty in pink!
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 10:27 PM
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It seemed like I just finished reading your last report!
You sure do travel a lot (insert envy emoji here…lol)

Following along.

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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 12:16 AM
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Oh, this is wonderful!! Thank you! Following ...

s
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 01:05 AM
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Loving your trip report. How fun to explore a bit and help with your grands.
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 04:45 AM
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Wonderful trip report and wonderful photos! I’m so enjoying this!

Marseille is a place we’ve been wanting to go (we were supposed to go early in the pandemic, but we all know what happened then!) and your photos really capture its spirit.

And the photo of L’Isle Sur La Sorgue in the fog is so atmospheric!
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 07:23 AM
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Totally excellent photos.
Just for the record, it is Le Souk and not La Souk (restaurant in Marseille).

Last edited by kerouac; Dec 28th, 2022 at 07:25 AM.
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 08:30 AM
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Good to see that you had a nice trip with your family KW.
I especially liked your Le Panier street art---that kissing couple is exceptional.
And we all learned about Le Cosquer cave---who knew?

I am done. The village E
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 10:23 AM
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I'm also enjoying your beautiful photos and narrative. It is great to see you experiencing life with your family in Provence. I've never been there in late November/early December, so I look forward to your next posts.

The street art is terrific. The grittiness of Marseilles always is a shock to the system to those like myself who are used to places to the east.
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