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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Brunch - à la française

Brunch - à la française

What better way to start your trip to Provence then by having a bite to eat at the elegant landmark restaurant Le Train Bleu  located inside the Gare de Lyon in Paris. The restaurant was built in 1900 for the World Exhibition by PLM (Paris-Lyon-Marseille) which has since become the SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer). It’s a grandiose restaurant serving 500 meals a day.

Marseille Murmurs

Marseille Murmurs

L'Hôtel-Dieu de Marseille was a hospital built just above the Vieux Port in the 12th Century. It underwent several renovations in the 18thC with the introduction of wrought iron works which are still visible today.  A statue of  Jacques Daviel, the eye surgeon who was the first to perform crystalline lens removal in cataract operation at this facility in 1745 stands in front of hospital.

Sushi or not to be

Sushi or not to be

A proposed ban on industrial fishing for blue fin tuna has French, Italian and Spanish fisherman in an uproar. In France the industry concerns over 200 boats and 1000 fisherman most of them based in the city of Sète west of Marseilles.

Le Ferry Boat (Bo-a-te)

Le Ferry Boat (Bo-a-te)

The Vieux Port in Marseille has just inaugurated the new ferry boat which can transport 45 people across the 250 metres that separates one side of the port from the other. This 13m vessel, built in near-by Martigues is a modern replacement for the ferry Cesar which ferried passengers across the port for 55 years. And modern it is – sliding electric doors are powered by solar panels on the roof.

Allez L'OM!

Allez L'OM!

For all those soccer fans there is an exposition marking the 110 anniversary of l’Olympique de Marseille. 11 artists are showing 110 photos of the most important moments in the Club’s history.  The photo exhibit "OM 110 years - the History of the Olympique of Marseilles in 110 pictures"  will be on from February 20 - May 9, 2010 at the Palais des Arts. It has been organised by the Fondation Regards de Provence www.regards-de-provence.org

Marseilles European Capital of Culture

Marseilles European Capital of Culture

In May 2009 the European Commission announced that Marseilles would be the European Capital of Culture in 2013. At a recent press conference hosted by the Chambre de Commerce et Industrie Marseille Provence (CCIMP) President Jacques Pfister, announced that La Poste (French Postal Service) was the first official sponsor of the event with 1.5 million Euros. With over 600 individual project proposals submitted Marseilles 2013 is currently recruiting sponsors who can adopt a project.

Walking with Cezanne

Walking with Cezanne

Or at least in his footsteps by following the big brass studs that are embedded in the sidewalks of Aix en Provence. Drop by the tourism office and ask for the map called "In the steps of  Cezanne". The walking tour starts just off the Cours Mirabeau on rue de L’Opera at the place of his birth in 1839 and takes you to various landmarks including his art school which is now the Musee Granet. 

Avignon Truffle Festival

Avignon Truffle Festival

Be sure to go Les Halles, the covered market, in Avignon on Sunday February 21, 2010 to celebrate the truffle. Also referred to as the Black Diamond this rare gem will be prepared by 15 of the region's most talented chefs. You can attend one of the demonstrations from 10am - 3 pm. And if you feel like going home with a few of your own you can purchase from the merchants on hand. For more information have a look at www.festiv-halles.com

Under Pressure

Under Pressure

Olivier Baussan, the founder of the ultra successful L'Occitane line and the man behind Olivier & Co, has a new venture these days.  Having sold off his two previous companies he has come up with yet another great idea which continues to promote Provence.

French Kiss

French Kiss

Since 1868, the town of Roquemaure (near Avignon), has been hosting an annual romantic letter writing contest and kissing festival in honor of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of love. Today the event draws over 20 000 people.

Sea Urchin Festival

Sea Urchin Festival

Each year the Fete de l'Oursin (Sea Urchin Festiva) which is held the first 3 Sundays of February 2010 (7th, 14th , 21st) in the coastal town of Carry-le-Rouet, just west of Marseille, attracts several thousand visitors. The fisherman return to port with boat loads of the key attraction, sea urchins, prickly creatures which are then cut in half and eaten right away.