Craft from Provence. Provence is well-known for:. Wine.
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Provence is well-known for:
Provence is perhaps not the most renowned wine-growing region in France, but it has surely the greatest variety.There are two main wine-growing regions:- the wineyard of "Côtes-du-Rhône": (Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape...)- The wine from Provence: (Cassis, Bellet, Bandol, Côteaux Varoix...)They can be tasted directly at the wine cellars or at local wine festivals.
The black truffle is recognizable by its strong wild perfume.
Its development requires 3 essential elements:
* earth rich in limestone,
*a mediterranean climate
* a welcoming tree (generally oak)
It is collected during winter at the feet of oak trees with the help of a well-trained dog. The « truffle hound » scratches the earth to show where the truffle is hidden, leaving its owner to free the « black diamond » with a special hook.
Every summer the hills and fields of Provence are coloured in blue with lavender.
The cultivation of lavender dates from the last century but its properties have been known since antiquity. It has even been used during the Middle-Ages as a disinfectant. Collected by hand in the past, the harvest isnow completely mechanized. Dried for a few days, the flowers then leave for the distillery where the essential oil is extracted. 120 kg of flowers makes 1 kg of essential oil.Lavandin plant, a hybrid of lavender, is becoming more and more popular because it produces twice as much oil.
This sweet with the perfume of Provence, a marriage of honey and almonds, appeared for the first time in Montélimar at the end of the XVI century.
Honey and sugar are melted and cooked in mixers then added to beaten egg whites. It is only at the end that the almonds are added and the mixture is then poured into moulds.Nougat can be industrIally or hand-made, but must include at least 30% of almonds to be called "Nougat de Montélimar".
Calissons are a traditional French candy consisting ofa smooth, pale yellow paste of candied fruit
(especially melons and oranges) and ground almonds
topped with a thin layer of royal icing.
They are often almond-shaped and are typically about 2 inches in length.
Calissons are traditionally associated with the town of
Aix-en-Provence (since the 15th century)
Consequently most of the world supply is still made
in the Provence region.
OLIVES and OLIVE OIL
The olive tree - symbol of the Mediterranean –
was imported by the greek some 2500 years ago.
It can live for several centuries and starts to give fruit at the age of eight, reaching full maturity by the age of twenty.
Olives are traditionally gathered by hand or combs from November to January.
The largest ones are kept for eating while the smallest are pressed at the mill to give "virgin olive oil".
5 kg of olives makes 1 litre of oil.
Most of the objects made with olive wood are kitchen ustensils but also very pretty sculptures with a stylemarked by the natural shape of the tree.This style comes from collecting trunks of olive treeswhich died when, in 1956, the devastating frost hit almost the whole of the orchards.
SAVON DE MARSEILLE
Marseille soap is a traditional soap made from vegetable oils
that has been made around Marseille for about 600 years
( the first soapmaker being recorded in 1370)
Louis XIV introduced regulations limiting the use of the
name savon de Marseille to soaps made only from olive oil.
Today, regulations allow other vegetable oils to be used.
In 1924: 132 soapmaking companies
In 2000: only 5 remained
Traditionally, the soap is made by mixing
sea water (from the Mediterranean sea)
The mixture is heated for several days then allowed
to sit and then poured into a mould to set slightly.
While still soft, it is cut into bars and stamped.
The whole process can take up to a month.
In many little villages, you will find craftsmen who have managed to protect an ancestral know-how combining tradition with character.
The clay figures of Provence came into being during the French Revolution. They replaced the cribs in the churches closed during that time.The clay figures (known as"Santon" in French and "Santoun" in Provençal, meaning a saint) were mainly representations of biblical characters made of dried, hand painted clay.
Later on in the makingof the clay figures, craftsmen took inspiration from Marcel Pagnol's characters.
The town of Aubagne, Marcel Pagnol's native town, has now become the capital of the clay figure.
Biot wasoriginally known for its "jarre" (pots) the making of which dates back to the ancient Greeks and has now become the capital of artisanal glasswork.
Bottles, decanters, jugs and glasses are all traditionally mouth-blown.
A glass-blower in Montauroux
This glass-blower is specialized in engraving on crystal.
He creates a great variety of different items:
from simple water glasses to fabulous glass mosaic vases, lamps, bubbled dishes ….
The term Provençal quilting, also known as boutis,
refers to the whole cloth quilts done using a stuffing
technique traditionally made in the South of France
from the 17th century onwards.
Boutis is a provençal word meaning « stuffing »
describing how 2 layers of fabric are quilted together
creating a raised effect.
Stuffed quilting, or trapunto, was known in Sicily
as early as the 13th century.
Provence has a lot more to be discovered
So you are invited to come and visit us
Next year in February 2012