Saturday, November 26, 2011

Provence Prestige

Cheers! The other evening I was invited to partake in the opening of Provence Prestige here in Arles and so yes, a tiny kir was in order. After all, these Provençal know how to do Christmas shopping right. No Black Fridays here! Ah, but that doesn't mean there aren't crowds. Over 30,000 visited last year during five days and peak periods can be shoulder to shoulder. Why the fuss? There are 150 booths to discover, all selling the very best of "Made In Provence." Perfect for Christmas gifties! 

So what can we...dénicher? What little treasures can be dug up?

Perhaps some santons to create your very uniquely french Nativity scene? Characters of all sorts are represented--I had my eye on the chef!

The Indiennes de Nimes booth is filled with all that is needed for a luxurious weekend in the Camargue--custom boots, leather satchels and cashmere scarves. Perfect for a ride or hunt through the marshes.

Libellule, a shop in Saint-Remy, had a gorgeous stand filled with so much coziness for the home. Who wouldn't want to snuggle up in a soft baby alpaca blanket? Brun de Vian-Tiran has been manufacturing such luxury items in Provence since 1808. There are even soft and stylish throws for the puppers! Ben just might be finding one under the tree...

Although the packaging left much to be desired, I was impressed by the quality as well as the concept behind the products presented by Senteurs du Sud. The company only uses organic products that are bought directly from the source and under ethical conditions. Their Scent of the Month collection includes a wide range for the home and body, with a different perfume to reflect the very distinct months here in Provence. Colline, or hill, for the month of May, would be the olfactory suggestion of my previous post! Their eau de toilettes are based on natural essences, something increasingly rare in our synthetic society. I am also looking forward to trying out their line of Argan oil products--especially for my crispy winterized hair.

Yes, all of this is nice enough but then there is the...Food Hall. Whoohoo! My friend Claire stacked up on madeleines for the holidays, some stuffed with chestnuts others with figs. Foolishly, I resisted and missed out on a future Proustian moment, to be sure.

We also were crazily charmed by every single item at Rue Traversette. We very well might have tasted each of their modern vintage spreads--chestnut and clementine was my favorite! Baby carrots preserved in cinnamon vinegar with honey? Yes, that too. It may sound funky but it is all made with a simplicity that just plain works.

But the choices were endless--raviolis from Royan, anchovies from Marseille. As Remi had driven six hours to go to a photo shoot and back, I brought him home a bottle of wine, andouillettes from the Luberon and a sun-dried tomato mozzarella spread. Needless to say, he smiled.

Claire and I were among the last to leave. With more time on my hands, I would have asked the price of the charming fruits confits in the shapes of tiny croissants and pain au chocolat. Ah, maybe next year! 

If this is indeed the beginning of the Christmas season, then I must say it is off to a fine start...

For those of you in the region, Provence Prestige runs through Monday evening and the tarif is 6€ per person. 


  1. Sounds like I would have needed a van to help take all my treasures home. I can't believe you passed up on madeleines! In my opinion there is nothing better then a gift basket of homemade treats!

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  2. Looks like your shopping should have been done in one fell swoop,
    Just wrap them all up now! Ah, to be so organized so far ahead for Xmas.
    I hope lucky you !

  3. Exquisite temptations. High end quality,+ variety,+ one location........shopaholic heaven. Have penciled it in my "must do in France" list. Bonne semaine

  4. Oh it looks marvelous!! And the food!! Although I'm still recovering from my Thanksgiving overindulgence, I think I could still find room for some wine, andouillettes and sun-dried tomato mozzarella spread!!

  5. Beautiful presentation as per your norm!KIR,think I have had that just once upon a time......tis it sweet?I love sweet.......will send the MARITO on a hunt!I love how you love your drink.You remind me of a very special person I lost a few years ago!
    Hugs to Ben.I hope he gets that ALpaca blanket!!!xoxxoxo

  6. Hooray! Lovely comments from a bucketful of brilliant ladies! I do have nothing but fabulous ones on my blog, if I do say so myself (just look at the smiling faces of my members at right).

  7. This sounds divine! I have just marked the dates for a possible trip next November... my mouth will be watering until then.

    I do think that Ben deserves the alpaca!


  8. Yes please, yes please, yes please!!! ("Huck Finn" figurine, puppy blanket, sun-dried tomato spread).

  9. I am sorry I missed it... It looks like some fabulous goodies were there for the offering... xv

  10. Vicki, it was good this year. Much less of the dancing Arlesiennes than in the past. ;) Hoping you had a wonderful Anniversary!

  11. Oh gosh! This is like my idea of heaven! I think I would most certainly be one of the last to leave too! The santons are adorable!

  12. Chestnut stuffed madeleines - oh I am groaning at the thought of that, Heather. Yummo. And the little carrot preserves...mmm...with a bit of cheese and a hunk of bread. Really, what else does one need?

    Best bit about the whole thing is that it is locally made. Woohoo! I love that! No point in having the same stuff the world over - for what would be the thrill of travel, if it were? Virginia xx

  13. Bah! It's a mystery--I left a resonse but poof! It got swallowed into the blogoshpere. Meghan, thanks for your comment. It really was fun. And Virginia, you know that I agree that it is our uniqueness that makes the world go round. :)

  14. ..interesting blog ! just discovered it.. will be back

  15. Thanks "TIB"--hope to see you again soon!


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