Behind the Scenes in Provence

Provence Confidential has been blogging about restaurant launches, cooking classes, food festivals, Provençal wines and spirits as well as tradition and folklore since 2008.

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35th International Piano Festival

La Roque d’Anthéron will host the 35th International Piano Festival, a world reference in piano recitals,  from July 24 - August 21, 2015 at the Parc du Château de Florans. The park is home to over 350 plane trees and hundred year old sequois as well as an outdoor stage that provides remarkable accoustics. In 2014 over 77,000 people attended the festival.

A dozen other venues in Provence that provide exceptional settings will host concerts during the Festival as well.  These include the Silvicane Abbaye, the Church of St. Jean de Malte in Aix-en-Provence, the Temple in Lourmarin and the Quarry in Rognes.

Young talent as well as leading musicians will be performing classical, contemporary and jazz. So if it's Daniel Matsuev or Chich Corea that you want to see live, have a look at the programme details on www.festival-piano.com

 

 

Hôtel de Caumont

 

The Hôtel de Caumont Art Center opened its doors in Aix-en-Provence in May 2015 after 2 years of extensive renovations. The 18th century mansion in the heart of the Mazarin district had previously been the Darius Milhaud Conservatory, honoring the Marseille born classical music composer. 

 

Culturespaces, the cultural art management group that also oversees the exquisite Musée Jacquemart- André in Paris, the breath-taking expositions at the Carrières des Lumières in Les Baux and the Roman Theatre in Orange, has 2 expositions planned for the Hôtel de Caumont each year

 

Don’t miss the Canaletto exhibition that runs until September 13, 2015. Tickets available online at http://expo-canaletto.com/en

 

Follow up your visit with lunch at the Café Caumont either inside or in the sumptuous garden. The Café offers such an exceptional setting that private groups have been reserving the entire venue so do call or check online if there is a private function before making lunch plans.

Provence Pottery Fair

Provence Pottery Fair

Argilla is the largest pottery market in France with over 200 artisans from across Europe. This event, which is hosted by the city of Aubagne every other year, will take place on August 8-9, 2015

Fête de la Gastronomie Launched

Fête de la Gastronomie Launched

Last week Tourism and Commerce Secretary Frederic Lefebvre announced the launch of the Fête de la Gastromonie on September 23, 2011. This new annual event is the food equivalent to the Fête de la Musique (Music Festival) which was launched by then Cultural Minister Jacques Lang in 1982.

Fête de la Gastronomie

Fête de la Gastronomie

Late in 2010 I wrote about how the United Nations had declared the French meal one of the world’s most cultural treasurers. The Gastronomic Meal of France has since been on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. On the UNESCO website it reads “The gastronomic meal of the French plays an active social role within its community and is transmitted from generation to generation as part of its identity.”

Fête de L'Oursin

Fête de L'Oursin

During the 1st three Sundays of February  the village of Carry-le-Rouet, just west of Marseilles on the Côte Bleue, will be celebrating l'oursin or sea urchin in English. These are nasty critters to step on when swimming but they are a Mediterranean delicacy served fresh from the sea.

Craterellus cornucopioides

Craterellus cornucopioides

Also called the Black Trumpet, these mushrooms are known in France as Trompette des Morts which literally means the Trumpet of the Dead.  It’s not a very appetizing name but it is the most delectable mushroom. This season the markets of Provence offer a wide selection of mushrooms. We have had regular rainfall this autumn which makes for a good mushroom harvest.

Coquilles St. Jacques

Coquilles St. Jacques

Les Coquilles St. Jacques or scallops are not harvested anywhere near Provence but they are on every menu come the end of the year holidays. These delicately flavored shellfish are fished along the coasts of the Atlantic and the English Channel from October through April.

Calisson Kisses

Calisson Kisses

Aix en Provence in known throughout France for its delicious almond shaped confections. Think of them as the Hershey’s Kisses of Provence. First created by a local confectioner in honour of the King René second marriage in 1473, calisson factories sprouted during the 19th C. Calisson’s are not well known abroad but a very busy sales and marketing staff at La Confiserie Roy René is working on diversifying the flavours in order to have a wider appeal. In fact they have just developed a date filled calisson for the Dubai market place. www.calisson.com

Basics of Bouillabaisse

Basics of Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is the world famous fish stew which originated in Marseilles. The name comes from the words bouillir which means to boil and baisser which means to reduce. Originally this meal was prepared by fishermen using their unsold fish. Bouillabaisse is served as two courses.

13 desserts

13 desserts

On December 24th just after the celebration of midnight mass 13 desserts which symbolise Christ and the 12 apostles are served.  In Provence there is no traditional cake or pie at this time of year.  Instead they prepare a gathering of what used to be exotic fruit and nuts that came to the seaport city of Marseilles from other Mediterranean ports.