Discover Provence

The palette of Provence - orange blossoms, ochre-rich earth, fields of poppies and sunflowers, plane-shaded squares, cobalt skies deepening to midnight-blue, pink flamingos, snowy peaks, and deep-purple lavender - has been vividly rendered by painters such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne.

Provence is a region of southeastern France and is delimited on the east by Italy, on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, west to the river Rhone and north to Mont Ventoux. It is a division of the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. This area of southern France was the first Roman province outside Italian territory. The Romans who conquered it in the 2nd Century B.C., called it Provincia Nostra ("our province") and the name in French thus became Provence.

Most of Provence has a Mediterranean climate, characterised by hot, dry summers, mild winters, little snow, and abundant sunshine. Within Provence there are micro-climates and local variations, ranging from the Alpine climate inland from Nice to the continental climate in the northern Vaucluse. The winds of Provence are an important feature of the climate, particularly the Mistral, a cold, dry wind which, especially in the winter, blows down the Rhone Valley to the Bouches-du-Rhône and the Var Departments, and often reaches over one hundred kilometers an hour.

The countryside is a charming landscape of low, rolling limestone hills covered in dry scrub and characteristic sun baked earth. The sun fills the air, bouncing off the sea and the land, creating a relentless light that still captivates artists around the world. This incessant sun is combined with the cooling wind from the north, the Mistral, to create a dramatic climate. Tough, shrubby plants such as Lavender and Olive trees thrive here, as do grape vines. The best vineyards of Provence are tucked into hillsides, facing south so avoiding the full force of le mistral, and produce some distinctive and delicious wines.

The cuisine of Provence is the result of the warm, dry Mediterranean climate; the rugged landscape, good for grazing sheep and goats but, outside of the Rhone Valley, with poor soil for large-scale agriculture; and the abundant seafood on the coast. The basic ingredients are olives and olive oil, garlic, chickpeas, almonds, local fruits such as grapes, peaches, apricots, figs, strawberries, cherries, almonds and the famous melons of Cavaillon.

History of the Provencal almonds grown by our artisans

Almond growers Beekeeper in Provence

At the end of the 19th century Provence was the largest world producer of Almonds. Over the years many of these trees were uprooted, to be gradually replaced by vineyards. Fascinated by this form of culture, our Nougat manufacturers wish to restore the almond tree to its rightful place. Their almond trees grow in the stony, chalky soil of the sunny terraced foothills of Mont-Ventoux. Their almonds draw their exceptional taste from this particular soil.

The Almond, whether fresh or dried, is a real delight and is one of the staples in Mediterranean food. It contains many essential minerals and calcium. Providing energy, it may also help reduce cholesterol and is rich in vitamins E, well known as an anti-oxidant, B3 and B9. Finally, its succulent qualities have inspired our ancestors to develop the most authentic Provençal recipes including the Nougat and Calissons, which nowadays give it an honoured place alongside the creations of the nouvelle cuisine.

Calissons originate from Aix-en-Provence and date back to the XIII century. They are oblong in shape and are amongst one of the most popular festive confectionary in Provence. They are made from almonds and honey, coated with a thin layer of icing. A Provencal legend says that Calissons were laid at the bottom of the blessed chalice by the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence in order to encourage believers to ask for forgiveness for the sin of gluttony.

Honey from Provence

Our Nougat artisans in Provence have been beekeepers for several generations and take great care in the nurturing of their bees. With the great variety of vegetation in this region of Provence, our artisans are able to harvest an astonishing range of flavoursome honeys.

The most commonly known are Lavender, Flowers of Provence and thyme, and the most surprising are lime and rosemary. This range of flavours enables our artisans to recreate old-time recipes and to explore new flavours.

Bees have an essential function in preserving the biodiversity of this land. They pollinate flowers while collecting nectar. They are threatened by a problematical environment, bringing about an on going struggle involving all those working in the region.

Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux Map of the Mont Ventoux region Flassan Sault

The mountain, Mont Ventoux…1912 meters high, also called the Giant of Provence, stands sovereign, as its nickname suggests, over the region. It's a mountain that has become a myth in the history of Provence. From its summit you can discover one of the most splendid panoramas of Europe, taking in the Vallée du Rhône, the Baronnies and the Vaucluse plateau. Its vegetation and landscapes vary according to the altitude: 400 different flowers and more than a thousand species of plants adorn its slopes over five levels between 400 and 1900 meters. It is also well know for its legendary climb to the summit by cyclists of the Tour de France.

Flassan, is a village nestling at the foot of the Mont Ventoux and the mountain protects it from the Mistral wind, making it a privileged region. Flassan has houses painted in ochre, pretty little streets around a 13th century Romanesque church, fountains and wash-houses that attract artists and photographers all year round.

Sault, is an ancient village built at the end of the IX century around a monastery on a small rocky hill. Surrounded by lavender fields as far as the eye can see, it is a major stop on the 'Route de la Lavande'. Sault got its name from the forests of oaks (Saltus in latin) that used to surround it. Lavender is the flower emblem of Provence and is celebrated on the 14th and 15th of August when Sault is decorated in the colour mauve for a grand celebration.

Traditional Provencal Christmas The Thirteen Desserts

The Thirteen Desserts

The Thirteen Desserts is a widespread Christmas tradition in Provence. These are served after the traditional Provencal Christmas dinner "le gros souper" (the big supper) to re-unite the family after the Midnight Mass. The thirteen desserts symbolise Christ and his 12 apostles. It is believed that this tradition started in the XVII century and is still very much alive today. The 13 desserts generally include:

  • Nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts
  • Dried fruit such as raisins, dried figs, dates and apricots
  • Quince jelly, fruit jellies, candied fruit, jams & Calissons
  • Four fresh fruit such as apples, pears, grapes, mandarins, oranges and melon
  • Two types of Nougat - soft white and hard black
  • Pastries such as the "pompe à huile" or "fougasse" (pastry made with olive oil)

All thirteen desserts are served at the same time along with mulled wine. For good fortune in the year to come, the guests must share all desserts and have a little bit of everything.


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