September 12, 2016

The Fortress of Aigues Mortes in Provence

The Fortress of Aigues Mortes in Provence

800km from its glacial source in Valais, Switzerland the Rhône River gasps as it reaches the Mediterranean Sea. Like a wide yawn the Rhône’s two branches; the Grande Rhône and the Petit Rhône empty their cargo at the mouth of the river. This area of Provence known as the Camargue, part of the Bouches du Rhône (mouths of the Rhône) is Europe’s largest river delta (930 sq km) and a wetland of significant size. (more…)

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February 9, 2015

Sifting through the Salt of Provence in Aigues Mortes

Sifting through the Salt of Provence in Aigues Mortes

Nutmeg walked every aisle in the grocery store looking for salt – it was not with the spices, but rather in its’ own section near the aged balsamic vinegar. Where is the logic? This pile of sea salt is 70 metres high Treasured since antiquity, salt is used in kitchens around the world, to enhance flavour and preserve food. Salt also plays a medicinal role in maintaining the life sustaining salt/water ratio in the human body. Formed by the earthly elements sodium and chloride (NaCl), salt comes from two sources, underground mineral deposits and seawater. (more…)

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August 5, 2013

Letters from the Fete de Village

Letters from the Fete de Village

Cowboy culture runs deep in parts of Provence and throughout the Camargue. Although, the customs have Spanish roots, the Provençal character is what thrives today.  White horses, black bulls, traditional costumes, processions and convivial atmosphere all surround several days (and long nights) of events. The program is built around a celebration of the patron saint of the village church. However, most of the activities have nothing to do with religious orientation. Every Provençal village hosts a variation of these festivities. Consistent elements of which, are captured in the ABC list below. If, you missed Nutmeg’s 2012 post you can see it here. (more…)

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August 6, 2012

Eygalières Fete De La St Laurent

Eygalières Fete De La St Laurent

Eygalières is a beautiful village located in the heart of the Alpilles in Provence. The town has a population of barely 1,800 souls, most of whom live in another locale on a regular basis. The number of residents swells in the spring and summer months as the homes and hotel rooms fill. Owners and staff at the local cafés and restaurants work hard during these months serving the throngs of visitors. The setting for Eygalières is idyllic; a medieval village perched on a hill offering views of the Alpilles and Mont Ventoux. The hamlet has one bustling main street filled with three cafés, two bakeries, a butcher, two groceries, several restaurants and too many real estate agents. (more…)

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November 29, 2010

Arrival Festival D’Abrivado in Provence

Arrival Festival D’Abrivado in Provence

At the mouth of the Petit-Rhône in the Camargue, you find the seaside town of Saintes Maries de la Mer.  It is located right on the Mediterranean Sea, with a lovely long beach and wild surf.  The town was built between the 9th and 12th centuries and was a strategically important location for defense against pirate attacks.  The church (Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer) is unique in both structure and height, as it is much taller than the surrounding buildings. The roof of the church at one time, served as a watchtower. Even to this day, the church is a site for Gypsy pilgrimages.  Gypsies come from all over Europe every May 24th to come to pray to Saint Sara and usually leave an offering of cloth from their clothes for her to protect them through the coming year. This town in the heart of the Camargue, is home to black cows, white horses, red rice, and the recognizable Fleur de Sel.  The region has a strong tradition of bull rearing and herding that dates back to the late 1800’s when Folco Baroncelli a descendant of a Florentine family settled in the Camargue.  His passion for bulls moved him to become a manadier and in 1895 he founded the “Manado Santenco” in Saintes Maries de la Mer.  In 1909, he established the “Nacioun Gardiano” and was very active in the development and promotion of the Camargue bull-run. Ginger and Nutmeg were invited to the very unique Festival D’Abrivado, which is held in Saintes Maries de la Mer every November 10th and 11th.  Here are the fast facts: 6 km of beach riding 11 teams of riders 44 bulls 2000 horses 15,000 spectators (more…)

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