France From The Inside

France From The Inside: Festivals in the Vaucluse, Provence

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A 'festival' in the Vaucluse can range from half a dozen stalls selling local produce to a spectacular event held over a number of days incorporating marching bands, funfairs and competitions. What they all have in common is the colourful provencal attitude to hearty celebration.

The Pottery Market, Marché de Potiers, in Bonnieux, Provence

Every Easter Sunday and Monday a group of local potters, Terre de Provence, set up their stalls in the car park of the Maison du Livre at the bottom of the village.

Over 30 stallholders display their crafts of pottery and ceramics - from brightly coloured kitchenware to modern garden ornaments - this popular event caters for all tastes.

The added attraction of an activity area where children of all ages can try their hand at making pottery, makes this fete truly family friendly.

Coupled with the dramatic back drop of the panoramic views of the Calavon and Durance valleys across to Mount Ventoux, this is a highly original and special location for a pottery market.

The Cavalcade or Corso of Apt, Provence

For four days over the Pentecost weekend each year, the Roman town of Apt comes alive to traditional carnival processions in a festival that dates back to 1857.

The floats for the Corso are created and displayed by local schools and volunteer groups. There is one parade on the Saturday night and another on the Sunday afternoon. Outside of these times the massive funfair and local competitions keep the crowds thoroughly entertained.

The Melon Fete of Cavaillon, Provence

The origins of the 'Cavaillon Melon' date back to the 18th century and these melons are renowned for their quality. Each fruit is certified confirming the producer's adherence to certain conditions of production as laid out by the Syndicat des Maitres Melonnaires de Cavaillon - a guarantee of quality.

A five-day fair, dedicated to the melon is held in the centre of Cavaillon every July.

The Lavender Festival of Sault, Provence

Annually, on the 15th August tens of thousands of people descend on the picturesque mountain village of Sault, for the celebrations in honour of the 'Blue Gold of Provence.'

This festival ties the citizens of the village and the fields together. Amongst the stalls that nestle under the shade of the oak trees, traditonal products such as lavender soap and dried lavender flowers rub shoulders with more innovative lavender derived merchandise, such as ice-cream, crepes and tea.

The entertainment includes a sickle cutting competition, a traditional parade, a horse show and local singers.

A large field of lavender is open to the public for picking and the pungent smell of freshly harvested lavender hangs in the air from the open wooden carts that are dotted around the site; overflowing with cut lavender that the public is encouraged to take home free of charge.

The midday feast, which takes place under the huge oaks is renowned, receiving bookings from groups of people as far away as Lyons.

The Truffle Fete in Menerbes, Provence

The Vaucluse is the main producer of black truffles, producing over 70% of France's production and on the last Sunday in December the Truffle Fete is held in the hilltop village of Menerbes, close to Bonnieux.

A 17th century renovated house, the maison de la truffe et du vin du luberon, at the top of the village at the Place de l'horloge, is the focus of events and a centre for entertainment as well as learning throughout the year.

The ground floor of the maison includes a museum with interactive terminals and a sensory exhibition that offers the opportuntiy to learn about the truffle through the sense of smell.

The first floor provides information about truffle production and the opportunity of cooking with truffles, for professionals during the winter months and amateurs during the summer.
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