Nouvelles / News

Puzzling over Christmas gift ideas? Here are five suggestions for some very typical Provence-themed presents from our Amazon store that are guaranteed to be hits (buying them helps to support our website, by the way!)

Calissons d'AixThe calisson has been the patron sweet of Aix en Provence ever since - so the legend has it, at least - the 15th century.

These intense little taste explosions are made from a paste of ground almonds, candied melon and orange peel on a thin layer of wafer, all covered with bright white royal icing.

Today it would be very hard indeed to visit Aix without coming across the noble calissson, in a glistening cellophane bag, in a sleek white box that echoes its shape, or in a baroque white and gold sunburst in a confectioner's window. And now you can order these perfect Christmas treats by mail from one of Aix's leading calisson makers. Buy Calissons d'Aix online hereimage!


Miraval rose wineRosé wine is always more than welcome and here's one with an extra glamorous twist. Earlier this year Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, two of Provence's most famous vineyard owners (their estate is the village of Correns in the Var) launched an organic rosé wine created by the Perrin wine-making family.

Named Miraval, it has been well-received by critics - in fact it has just landed on the list of Top 100 Wines in the World compiled by Wine Spectator magazine!

Though it only came in at no. 84, Miraval is the sole rosé wine on the list, making it (Jolie-Pitt's people claim) the best rosé in the world. Not just a vanity project, then.

Miraval went on sale in March, when most of the stock was sold out within five hours. But Miraval Rosé image!has since become available to buy online again.

Henri Badouin pastisIf you want something a little stronger, try a bottle of pastis, Marseille's favourite anise-based apéritif. A bouquet of provençal herbs including thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, verbena, hyssop and melissa (lemon balm) lends a distinctive, tang to the basic mix.

This consists of liquorice root, star anise from Asia and, less often, Mediterranean anise. It's macerated in alcohol for between two weeks and several months.

Producers guard their recipes jealously and the exact brew can vary widely; the market is dominated by Ricard and 51 but boutique brands from small producers are becoming increasingly popular.

One of our own personal favourites is this one, by Henri Badouin, which is actually made in Forcalquier in the foothills of the Alps and has an unusual, slightly herby aroma. Buy Henri Bardouin Pastis online here


Marseille soapYou can't mistake an authentic bar of Marseille soap. Olive green or creamy white, it's a large, perfect cube, embossed on all six faces, with no added perfume or fancy packaging.

Made exclusively from natural olive, palm and - sometimes - other vegetable oils without any colouring agents or artificial additives, it's prized for its purity.

Beware cheap imitations produced many thousands of miles away in Turkey or China using an entirely different process. This one is the real thing, produced by Marius Fabre soapimage! in Salon de Provence, the region's second largest soap-making centre.


PetanquePétanque is the classic sport of Provence and its beauty is that it can be enjoyed by people of all generations, backgrounds and levels of expertise. This very modestly priced
boules set in a handy canvas bagimage! is perfect for anyone who wants to join the boules club.

 

 

 

 

The Preau des Accoules Children's MuseumHalf term might be over, but a number of fun events aimed at children continue into the winter. The excellent Préau des Accoules Children's Museum, pictured, in Marseille often collaborates with the city's "grown-up" museums, revisiting their shows from a kid's point of view.

Its present exhibition is called The Little Studio, or How to Paint the Sun (Le petit atelier ou comment peindre le soleil) and is inspired by Le Grand Atelier du Midi, the recent huge two-part show (now ended) at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Marseille, and the Musée Granet in Aix.

The child's version exhibits four 19th century paintings of Provence on loan from the Musée des Beaux-Arts. By François Barry, Alfred Casile, Joseph Garibaldi and Félix Ziem, they all take the sun as their central theme.

A discovery trail and games encourage children to paint their own versions of the sun. Until 25 May 2014.

The Fiesta des Minots ("minot" is a local slang word for "kid") offers a programme of puppet shows, silent films, story readings, animated movies and even a mini rock festival for children at locations around Aix en Provence, Arles, Marseille, Martigues, Port de Bouc and Salon de Provence. Read more about the Fiesta des Minots. Until 8 November.

Running concurrently, Mômaix is a programme of music, dance and theatre aimed at children ("môme" is another slag word for "kid") at venues all round Aix en Provence. Read more about Mômaix. Until 24 December.

Finally, at the Alcazar in Marseille, as well as in Vitrolles and Miramas, Les Expéditions Imaginaires (Imaginary Expeditions) bring to life some incredible landscapes out of classic children's books such as Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe and Harry Potter.
Read more about the Imaginary Expeditions programme. Until 11 January 2014.

 

 

CellistNow in its ninth year, Marseille's Festival de musiques classiques et baroques offers a series of free concerts throughout the autumn.

In 2013 there are no fewer than eleven programmes of work by Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Donizetti, Telemann, Rameau, Bach, with the occasional more modern composer such as Benjamin Britten. They're performed by the Orchestre Philharmonique de l'Opéra de Marseille, the Orchestre de chambre de Toulon et du Var and various choirs and soloists.


The Festival de musiques classiques et baroques runs from 19 October to 26 November, the concerts take place at the Eglise Saint Michel (Saint Michael's Church) in Marseille's fifth arrondissement and you can view the 2013 programme online here.

 


booking.com logoClick here to book a hotel in Provence

 

Stay connected online during your trip to Marseille at one of 31 new wi-fi hotspots in major tourist areas including the Palais Longchamp, the M Pavillion and the place Bargemon around it on the Old Port and the Vélodrome as well as at a number of public libraries.

Wi-Fi sign MarseilleThis high-speed wi-fi can be accessed via a computer, tablet or smartphone, is available 24/7 (or during opening hours in the case of public buildings) and is free of charge.

Look out for the small blue signs promising "WiFi municipal gratuit" and register with your name and email address in order to use it.

Marseille plans to roll out more hot-spots over the next few months reaching a total of 50 by the end of 2013. Since last autumn free wi-fi has been available at the city's Saint Charles railway station.




Logo Fete de la Gastronomy 2013September is a real foodie month, in France in general and Provence in particular. Apart from Marseille's super new Cuisine en Friche food festival, an innovation for the Capital of Culture year, several other events are spoiling gastronomes, gourmets and gluttons over the next few weeks.

Tous au Restaurant is a regular September promotion, essentially offering a two-for-one deal on set menus at participating restaurants - almost a thousand of them all across France and around 90 in Provence.

These include a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, among them La Bastide in Moustiers Sainte Marie, Côté Rue in Dragignan, L'Hostellerie de l'Abbaye in La Celle. L'Epuisette in Marseille, La Villa Madie in Cassis and La Cabro d'Or in Les Baux de Provence.

Reservations opened this week, so it's advisable to jump in quickly if you have a special spot in mind as the popular ones get snapped up early. Tous au Restaurant runs September 16-22 and you can find a list of participating restaurants and make a booking here.

Partly overlapping with this is the Fête de la Gastronomie, also a nationwide event, which runs 20-22 September. It encompasses a huge number of events of all sorts, including markets, giant outdoor banquets, children's workshops and chefs' demonstrations.

Cassis' Vendanges Etoilées (Starry Grape Harvest) is part of this festival, as is a Gastronomic Feast for 800 people in front of Avignon's Palais des Papes and a Giant Banquet in Marseille on the Canebière. But there's plenty more going on in towns and villages all across Provence: click here for the 2013 Fête de la Gastronomie programme.



The new Conservatoire de Musique Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence gets a brand-new Conservatoire of music, dance and theatre this week. Located in the "cultural corner" of the city, near the Pavillon Noir, the Grand Théâtre de Provence and the Cité du Livre, this stunning new building was created by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, whose equally remarkable design for Marseille's FRAC PACA opened earlier this year.

As well as housing a music school, the conservatory will host concerts, plays and other spectacles.

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For one weekend in September, cities all across Europe offer you a rare chance to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are normally closed to the public. In 2013 this event takes place on 14-15 September.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the idea started life in 1984 in France, where it is called the Journées du Patrimoine. It was quickly adopted by other countries and is known in English-speaking countries as the European Heritage Days, Doors Open Days or Open Doors Days.

Last year the Insider visited the amazing Citernes des Moulins in Marseille's Old Town, and this year is hoping to see the Old Port from the balcony of the mayor's offices in the Hôtel du Ville (Town Hall). Dozens of activities are on offer and many (though not all) of them are free.

The bad news is that most of them require you to sign up in advance, and this has become more and more complicated. But, if you read French, you can get ful details of what's going on in your area and how to apply for a ticket from the Journées du Patrimoine website.


Musique dans la rue Aix 2013In the course of the spring and summer, Aix en Provence hosts a whole series of music festivals, starting at Easter (a brand-new event which took place in 2013 for the first time), continuing in June with Aix en Juin (also new since 2012) and climaxing with the famous and very long-established main Festival of Lyric Art throughout July.

But it's still not over: for one more last time this summer Aix en Provence hums to the sound of music for its open-air festival, Musique dans la rue.

For a week from 30 August to 5 September, short concerts and recitals will be held at some 20 locations all across the city, including the place d'Albertas, La Rotonde, the cours Mirabeau and a range of hotels particuliers, terraces, squares and cafés.

The music ranges from Chopin and salsa to piano brunches to Louisiana funk, most of the shows last around half an hour and admission is free (first come, first served). Click here to read the full 2013 programme for Musique dans la rue.

 

FireworksMarseille is planning some extra-special celebrations for 14 July (Bastille Day, a public holiday in France - this year it falls on a Sunday, of course).

The day begins with a military parade along the avenue du Prado starting at 9.30am (expect traffic disruption).

Then at 5.30pm, there will be a special display by the Patrouille de France, the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force.

The Patrouille, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, will perform Du Haut Vol (Flying High), a newly commissioned aerial ballet for two planes choreographed by Kitsou Dubois to music by Jean-Jacques Palix.

The show starts at 5.30pm and lasts around 25 minutes. The best vantage point from which to watch it is on the Prado beaches. Admission free.

The day ends with a bang at 10.30pm with a 25-minute firework display on the Old Port. This is going to be a bumper show, much bigger than usual, with fireworks going off from 43 points on the water and around 40 barges, six giant water screens, laser light shows and music. Don't miss!

 

Salon Vivre Cote Sud in Aix en Provence

You're in the South of France and you've fallen in love with the lifestyle (well, who wouldn't?). And you'd like to recapture the feel of a sundrenched Mediterranean terrace or shady provençal farmhouse garden when you get back home.

Well, then, the salon Vivre Côté Sud in Aix en Provence is the place for you to be this weekend. Organised by the glossy magazine of the same name, it assembles some 200 designers, craft workers, chefs and garden specialists to tempt you with their various goodies.

At the Parc Jourdan, a short walk from La Rotonde and the Cours Mirabeau  in Aix, 7-10 June. More details of the salon Vivre Côté Sud.

Logo disco J1 Terminal Marseille June 2013The J1 Hangar, a long ferry pier converted into a gallery, restaurant and all-purpose meeting space with spectacular views over the bay, has proved one of the most popular successes of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture.

There was no budget for air-conditioning, and so the J1 is now closed as an exhibition space for the summer. But the Marseille "Off" Festival has managed to secure it for a on-off disco on 13 June, A L'Assault du J1 (despite the pirate motive it's officially approved!)

The line-up includes Sugarcraft, Phonkhead and DJ OIL and the event runs from eight till late. Entrance is just 6 €uros and for an extra 10 €uros you can sleep it all off at Yes We Camp, a pop-up campsite in L'Estaque organised by a collective of artists.

If the evening is a success, it could be a good omen for the J1's future as a night-time venue. Reserve tickets for the A L'Assault du J1 disco on 13 June. And don't hang around: half the tickets were already sold by the beginning of June.


Jardins en France 2013Each year in early summer over 2,000 parks and gardens all across France open their doors to the public for the country's annual Jardins en France event. And some 130 of them are in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region.

Many are open for this weekend only and offer not only guided visits but plant surgeries, seed and seedling exchange, workshops and more. This year's event takes place from 31 May to 2 June.

Gardens in Provence which are open for Jardins en France include the formal French-style park at the Château de la Barben which was designed by André Le Nôtre, creator of the gardens at Versailles.

You can also take a closer look at the tranquil kitchen garden at Saint Paul de Maussole, just outside Saint Rémy de Provence, the asylum where Vincent van Gogh spent the last year of his life and which he painted numerous times from his bedroom window; and the recreation of a Roman garden at Caumont sur Durance.

Click here for a full list of gardens in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur which are open this weekend for Jardins en France.


The Camargue by Marc HellerThis astonishing aerial image of the Camargue was taken by Marc Heller, who is that most unusual of animals: a photographer who is also a pilot.

Based in Aix en Provence, Heller works for the Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles The Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs) as an official chronicler of forest fires, archeological excavations and urban developments.

In between, Heller finds time to create some truly dreamlike and personal images: in his current show, the dramatic salt-flats of the Camargue take on an abstract quality.

Ciel! La Terre (Heavens! The Earth) is at the Aix en Provence Tourist Office, Les Allées provençales, until 23 June. Admission free.



Patrouille de FranceAn extraordinary air show will mark 60 years of the Patrouille de France - the crack French Air Acrobatic Patrol - on 26 May at the air base of Salon de Provence.

Planes will duck and dive in fantastic formations virtually all day long, from 10am to midday and again from 2pm to 6pm.

Guest flyers from other nations include, among others, the Red Arrows from the UK, the Frecce Tricolori from Italy, the Patrulla Aguilla from Spain, the Red Devils from Belgium and Russia's Striji, in an extremely rare overseas appearance.


In addition to these national squadrons, the acrobatics division of the Patrouille de France will offer an aerial ballet devised with the experimental choreographer Kitsou Dubois, and many other patrols will be present to do their bit.

There's plenty happening on the ground as well where the planes on display will include the Noratlas, the Alphajet, the Rafale, the Mirage 2000 and F1, the Tornado and the A 400M. Click here for the full programme.

100,000 people are expected to flock to this unprecedented event, so arrive very early. Six car-parks are available, several of them out of town, with shuttle services laid on. Click here for full details of the parking facilities.

Death in the Afternoon by Roberto MattaIn common with other European cities, Marseille, Aix en Provence and Avignon are taking part in the Nuit des Musées (Night of the Museums, sometimes also called Museums by Night) on Saturday 18 May.

On this evening, many museums remain open late - in some cases as late as midnight or 1.00am. This is not just an extension of opening hours, however: it's hoped the nocturnal atmosphere will encourage the public to visit the collections in a different, unusual and more sensory way.

Most museums offer special events, with many activities designed for children and families, and in some cases admission is either free or at a reduced rate.

Among the participating museums in Marseille are the Vieille Charité and the Planetarium and Observatory, as well as the Musée Cantini with an installation linked to the current Roberto Matta retrospective.

The Matta show ends on 20 May, so the Nuit des Musées is a timely last chance to catch this major exhibition. Pictured top left: Matta's Death in the Afternoon.

In Avignon the Musée du Petit Palais has guided tours highlighting the theme of flowers in its art collection, while over at Paul Cézanne's studio in Aix there are dance and music performances (at an extra charge).

Click here for full details (in French only) of these events and all the other participating museums in Marseille , in Avignon and in Aix en Provence


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John Malkovich

If you loved John Malkovich as the libertine and arch-villain Valmont in Stephen Frears' 1988 Oscar-winning film of Dangerous Liaisons, there's an unusual opportunity in Aix this month.

Malkovich is returning to the classic 18th century tale of seduction, corruption and betrayal - but this time as the director of a new production, with a young cast in their teens and twenties.

It's in French, of course (Malkovich, who has lived for long periods in France, speaks the language fluently).

But anyone who has read Choderlos de Laclos' book, seen Frears' film or Valmont, another movie version starring Colin Firth, should have no trouble following the plot: essentially Valmont cynically seduces a virtuous woman as part of a cruel wager and ends up falling in love with her.

The production runs at the Jeu de Paume theatre in Aix en Provence from 9-20 April and you can book tickets online here.



Cowboy HenkJust don't refer to them as "comic strips". In France the BD, short for bande dessinée, or graphic novel, is revered as an art-form: the "ninth art", in fact.

And that's the subtitle of the annual Festival de bande dessinée in Aix en Provence, now in its tenth year and one of the most important such events in the country.

The festival extends over quite a long period from March to May with 19 exhibitions - all of them free - at 14 different venues across the city. But it reaches its climax on the weekend of 12-14 April, when some 70 leading artists converge on Aix for workshops, exhibitions, discussions and many a coffee and/or apéritif.

Among them are the authors of Cowboy Henk, a cult Belgian (!) cowboy, pictured top; America's bluesy Christoph Mueller; the Lebanese artists Zeina Abirached and Michèle Standjofski, whose female look at the Middle East is a must if you loved Persepolis; and, in case anyone out there still regards BDs as low-brow, Jacques Ferrandez with his graphic version of Albert Camus' L'Etranger (The Stranger, or The Outsider).

The Manege Magique in AixIt all sounds enormous fun. As a bonus the Cours Mirabeau is festooned with banners and the gorgeous Manège Magique, pictured - a surreal magic roundabout where kids can ride on a grasshopper, a pterodactyl skeleton, a cello or a dinosaur - is putting in a guest appearance at the top of the Cours until 14 April.

Website for the Festival de bande dessinée in Aix en Provence


 

Marseille Carnival poster 2013It's a quirk of this part of Provence that, while most towns and regions hold their annual carnival or Mardi Gras at the beginning of Lent, Marseille waits, very sensibly, for the better weather around Easter.

The 2013 Carnival in Marseille is held on 6 April and, inspired by the flood of new museums opening in the city this year for the European Capital of Culture programme, takes as its theme the idea of a "mobile museum" in the streets all around the Old Port.

From 2.30pm onwards, performance artists will take visitors on a playful guided tour of this open-air gallery and its whimsical and surprising exhibits. The carnival procession itself also leaves the the quai de Rive Neuve at 2.30pm to snake around the Old Port, ending up in front of the Town Hall around 4.30pm.



Poster Babel Med world music festival Marseille 2013Babel Med is Marseille's acclaimed world music festival and this year's edition takes place from 21-23 March at, as usual, the Docks des Suds (which, despite the name, are located in the north of the city in the fast-expanding Euroméditerranée district).

Always highly cosmopolitan in its outlook, Marseille receives over a thousand applications each year from a diversity of countries including Tajikistan, New Zealand, Mali, Israel, Bosnia, South Africa and has a powerful tradition of hip-hop, rap, rock and electro music.

This year Babel Med looks primarily toward the Mediterranean basin for inspiration as part of the Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture programme. Cutting-edge musicians from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa dominate the line-up, among them Senegal's Ablaye Cissoko, Black Bazar from the Congo, Mounira Mitchala from Chad and Morocco's Hoba Hoba Spirit. Website for the 2013 Babel Med World Music Festival



Chocolate dress at the Salon du ChocolatLaunched in 2010, the Salon du Chocolat has quickly become one of Marseille's most popular attractions of the winter, drawing record crowds and, in the past, record queues.

The 2013 edition runs 22-24 February - perfect timing for a half-term treat.

Around 100 exhibitors are expected and the programme includes demonstrations by top provençal chefs, a masterclass on wine and chocolate pairings, music from cocoa-producing countries and a children's playgroup at which kids aged four to ten can learn to prepare simple dishes with chocolate (and eat the results, of course).

For adults, the leading local chocolatier Puyricard offers a cooking workshop (you'll need to reserve for both this and the children's workshop). But the undoubted highlight is a chocolate fashion parade of some truly outrageous and bizarre edible confections, daily at 5.00pm.

The Salon Chocolat is at the Parc Chanet, rond-point du Prado, 13006 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 76 16 00. How to get there: metro line 2 (stop rond-pont du Prado) or bus 83 from the Old Port. Car-park 4€ a day. Website for the Salon du Chocolat

Opening times: 22-24 February, 10am-7pm. Admission: Adults 9€, seniors and students 7€, children aged 5-12 years old 3€. Children under five enter free.


Yes We Camp Marseille 2013 campsite logoThousands of extra visitors are expected in Marseille over the summer at the height of the celebrations for the European Capital of Culture.

But budget hostels are at a premium and the nearest campsites are way at the other end of the Blue Coast at places like Tamaris and La Couronne (last train home from Marseille: 8.30pm).

So a collective of artists and architects, in collaboration with the Off 2013 Festival, has decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a pop-up camp-site, designed by young architects and artists and named Yes We Camp.

The aim, according to the project's co-founder and director Nicolas Détrie, is to create a sort of experimental Utopian village with a festive and creative atmosphere. When finally completed, it will include a snack-bar, whole-food restaurant, children's play area, artists' studios and eco-friendly kitchen garden fed with recycled water from the showers.

Yes We Camp
is located to the north of Marseille, in the Port de la Lave, L'Estaque, and you can get there by 35 bus, 535 night bus or the new boat shuttle from the Old Port (click here for our full guide to how to get about Marseille).

It welcomes its first guests on 22 May (though it is still only partly completed) and will remain open until 13 October.

Eventually Yes We Camp plans to house 150 people a night in a mix of accommodation including tents, yurts, caravans, modular units and cabanons (the Marseille version of "cabins") on stilts as well as spaces for artists-in-residence. The cost of an overnight stay starts from 13 €uros. Website for Yes We Camp

 

Marseille-Provence 2013 campaign posterOn 12 January 2013 Marseille-Provence becomes the European Capital of Culture for the coming year. The preparations have had their share of set-backs and mix-ups - but then so, after all, did the London Olympics, and it didn't prevent those from being a resounding success.

With only just over a month to go to Jour-J (D-Day), the advance publicity for Marseille-Provence 2013 is  gathering momentum. Its distinctive qualities: a dry, irreverent and very Southern French brand of humour.

One poster, pictured, raises two fingers to Paris with an image of Marseille and the copyline "Come down to the capital".

Another campaign acknowledges the infamous delays in completing MP2013's big projects. A series of posters  spotlight the MuCEM, the city's flagship museum designed by Rudy Ricciotti which, like many of the city's other new buildings, won't be ready in time for January.

They feature sceptical locals with sceptical quotes: "A museum for June 2013? All I can see is a building site," says one "They've been talking about it for long enough...." grumbles another poster. A follow-up campaign later this month will feature other claims that all will turn out well in the end, "...and for a change I'm not exaggerating," itself a self-mocking reference to the Marseillais' supposed fondness for tall stories.

But the greatest viral success has been Les Boulistes, which spoofs a classic cliché of Marseille. As cicadas chirp loudly in the background, four boules players on a square shaded by plane trees argue in time-honoured style

One asks, "Eh, tu tires ou tu pointes?" referring to different styles of pétanque game tactics. It sparks a mini-philosophical outburst. "Do you think man is simply the sum of what he says he is?" his team-mate asks rhetorically. The tongue-in-cheek message: Marseille isn't just about pétanque and pastis; it involves a whole different - but sophisticated - way of viewing the world.

Les Boulistes has now been joined by a second film, Femmes à la Pergola. Two women sip wine in a shady garden to the off-screen sounds of a husband banging away at some DIY project. They enthuse, with irony, about his "concrete music". Even the agonised howl of "Merde!" ("Shit!") is an artistic expression of pain.

The trilogy will be completed by a third mini-drama on Friday. The films could all be a bit baffling to outsiders, for the humour as much as for the salty accents. Nonetheless there are apparently plans to adapt the clips so that international viewers (and perhaps even Parisians) can understand them.

 

The Chateau d'If, MarseilleThe Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas' rousing adventure yam set partly in Marseille's Château d'If, is the new classic serial on BBC Radio 4.

Adapted for radio by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, Dumas' epic is broadcast in four installments, starting on Sunday 25 November at 3pm. It stars Iain Glen as the hero, Edmund Dantès, plus Toby Jones, Richard Johnson and Jane Lapotaire.

Once it has started, you'll be able to tune into the serial even if you don't live in the UK via the Listen Again facility on the BBC Radio 4 website. In fact, the Beeb promises that it will be available on the internet for a full year.

The story so far: at the age of 19, Dantès has a charmed life - he's a sailor about to be promoted to captain, and engaged to the beautiful Mercédès. But Marseille in 1815 is a dangerous place, and three of Dantès' acquaintances set in train a chain of events that will lead him to 14 years of solitary confinement in the notorious Château D'If.

Dumas was born in 1802. His father, the illegitimate son of a marquis, was a general in the revolutionary armies, but died when Alexandre was four years old. Alexandre's most successful novels were The Count of Monte Cristo (serialised between 1844 and 1845) and The Three Musketeers, published in 1844.

To coincide with the broadcast of The Count of Monte Cristo, the BBC's Book of the Week is Tom Reiss's account of the life of Alexandre Dumas' father, General Alex Dumas: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristoimage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



New in the Avignon Section Print E-mail
News - Nouvelles / News

Luminesssences Palais des Papes AvignonDiscover the stormy history of the Palais des Papes, Avignon, in Luminessences, a brand-new open-air 3-D son et lumière spectacle. Until 28 Sept.

 
New in the Travel Section Print E-mail
News - Nouvelles / News

Provencal road lined by plane treesDo you plan to drive to Provence from Northern Europe? Our recommended, most enjoyable route is guaranteed to make it a memorable trip.

 
New in the Arts and Culture Section Print E-mail
News - Nouvelles / News

Saint Victor Abbey Marseille by nightNow in its 47th year, the prestigious music festival at Marseille's historic, beautiful Saint Victor Abbey continues until 5 December. Last concert: Christmas carols.

 
Lavender in Provence Print E-mail
News - Nouvelles / News

Lavender flowersLast chance to see 4,000 lavender bushes blooming on the Old Port of Marseille. On 7 July the plants will be sold in aid of a foundation for the protection of lavender.

 
Tour Central Var on a Tourist Train Print E-mail
News - Nouvelles / News
Now open again for the summer, the Tourist Train of Central Var takes you through leafy landscapes and typical provençal villages.
 
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Nouvelles

Saint Barbara's Wheat in Provence at ChristmasChristmas in Provence starts on 4 December! Read about Saint Barbara's wheat and other local Christmas traditions.

 

Saint Victor Abbey Marseille by nightNow in its 47th year, the prestigious music festival at Marseille's historic, beautiful Saint Victor Abbey continues until 5 December. Last concert: Christmas carols.

 

Provence olive oilProvence's festivals celebrating the season's new olive oil are on in the Alpilles and Aix. 30 Nov-15 Dec.

 

Santa ClausChristmas shopping in Marseille this year features fireworks on the Old Port, giant santons on the Canebière, mulled wine and cakes in the Old Town - and artificial snow on the rue Sainte. From 6 Dec.

 

SkiingHeading to the ski slopes? Here's how to get there from Marseille or Aix by snow bus or snow train.

 

Christmas on the Cours Mirabeau, AixProvence's colourful Christmas markets are opening for business. Find the best fairs and festivals in Marseille, Aix, Avignon, Arles and elsewhere.

 

Descente des BergersCount the sheep (there'll be plenty of them around) at the Fête des Bergers, or Shepherds' Festival, in Istres, on the Blue Coast. Sheepdog trials, sheep processions, a banquet (with roast lamb?) 29 Nov-8 Dec.

 

Rose wine of ProvenceStar billing: Miraval, the rosé wine produced by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has just been named one of the top 100 wines in the world.

 

MSC SplendidaWe report from this autumn's Top Cruise conference about the new cruise routes from Marseille in 2014 and the latest developments in the city's booming cruise tourism.

 

Avignon fringe theatre festivalThe summer 2014 dates have now been confirmed for the Avignon "In" and "Off" Theatre Festivals.

 

CalissonsPuzzling over Christmas gift ideas? Here are our top five Provence-themed presents, all available to buy by mail order.

 

Claude Gazier paintingClaude Gazier's moody paintings evoke the smokey atmosphere of vintage film stills. La Ciotat, until 7 Dec.

 

Victoire Belezy as Fanny in Daniel Auteuil's Pagnol trilogyThe first two parts of actor-director Daniel Auteuil's new version of Marcel Pagnol's classic Marius, Fanny, César trilogy, set on the Old Port of Marseile, are now playing in UK cinemas.

 

Marilyn by Andy WarholWarhol, Hopper, Bacon, Magritte, Picasso, Delvaux: diary dates for some of the big art shows lined up for Marseille in 2014.

 

Henri Lebasque Nude Asleep on a BedWomen of Provence, as seen by male painters and by themselves, are the subject of a new show at the Musée Regards de Provence, Marseille. Until 24 Feb 2014.

 

Ballet Preljocac in Aix en ProvenceTake a backstage tour of the Pavillon Noir in Aix en Provence (14 Dec) or watch Angelin Preljocaj and the Ballet Preljocaj in rehearsal (10 Dec). These events are free.

 

Image from the film about the artist Pierre-Auguste RenoirNow available on DVD: France's entry for the Oscars is Renoir, a film about the artist's life shot in the Var near Saint Tropez.

 

Ceramic by Le Corbusier Ceramics, sculptures, tapestries, paintings - and erotic sketches: Le Corbusier was not just a revolutionary architect, as this must-see show at the J1 Hangar, Marseille, reveals. Until 22 Dec.

 

Lucien Clergue's photograph of Le Testament dOrphee in Les Baux de Provence Jean Cocteau's Le Testament d'Orphée was filmed in the Valley of Hell near Les Baux de Provence. A show of photographs by Lucien Clergue, in Les Baux, chronicles the shooting. Until 31 Dec.

 

Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears new filmThe disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong is the subject of a new film by the Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears, now shooting in the French Alps.