The art of living

How many aspects of Provence will you discover? It depends on you, your outlook, your interests and how curious you are. Come and enjoy the subtle and refined charms of Provence. Discover a region of tradition and culture in a land enhanced by its legend.

Throughout the seasons, there are lively, colorful events and gatherings throughout the Bouches-du-Rhône area. Every place has something different to offer at every time of the year. Firstly, the traditions: thriving, authentic and intact, they are full of gaiety and color, from the fairs to the férias and the pilgrimages to the bullfights. These events feature Christmas cribs and their traditional santon figurines, the bulls and horses of the Camargue, and the sheep of the Alpilles Hills, but also olives, sea-urchins and even (did you know?) rice! There are also cultural festivals, where a very demanding audience comes to judge the best productions of every season. There are photography festivals, music festivals, film festivals and painting festivals - Provence is always in a festive spirit!

Its rich heritage of 26 centuries of history make the Bouche du Rhône Département a very popular destination. Everything is possible, from a casual stroll around a hill-top village to a guided tour o Aix, Arles or Marseille - towns with a rich artistic and historical heritage - with commentary experts. Wether for one day or one week you can discover the contrasts of the Département at your own pace, piecing together a marvellous mosaic.

There is no clearly obvious university presence in the cities because of the separation between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, the complexity of administration (with three authorities) and the scattered nature of the campusses. However, 40,000 students receive high-quality university education from a total teaching staff of 4,000.

The Bouches-du-Rhône area has an impressive concentration of public and private research facilities. Nearly 3,000 researchers, engineers and research lecturers work in the Marseille research centers. Marseille has the second highest concentration of public research in France, after Paris. Artificial Intelligence, discrete mathematics, digital modeling, mechanics, acoustics, thermal science, energetics, power lasers, optics, optronics, space technology, immunology, pharmacology, biotherapeutics, genetic therapeutics and genetic engineering are some of the fields where top-level researchers work daily in the Bouches-du-Rhône.

Conference centers, universities, public halls, hotels and other types of venues offer 587 halls and rooms for seminars, conferences, congresses and conventions for approximately 70,000 people.

Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Arles are famous for their historical and cultural heritage. Every year, they attract large numbers of visitors from all over the world. The elegance and charm of the town houses in Aix-en-Provence, the remains of Roman civilization in Arles and the marks made by 2,600 years of history on Marseille, France's oldest city, are major attractions.

The Bouches-du-Rhône area is sun-drenched (almost) every day in the year and leaves a dazzling impression of its golden land, its silvery coastline and its glowing rocks. But the area's night life is also full of attractions and a festive atmosphere, with an extremely wide range of things to do. The summer is the peak period for the most famous festivals, but there are high-quality shows and events throughout the other seasons, not to mention the traditional cultural events.

The cultural heritage of the towns is enhanced by the festivals and other events. It is a real pleasure to stroll through the cities and the old town centers in the evening, admiring the historic buildings, the monuments and the illuminated facades, revelling in the colorful atmosphere of a festival, a theater show or a folk dancing exhibition, or simply relaxing outside a café on a buzzing square, watching the world go by.

The Bouches-du-Rhône area has the greatest number of theaters per inhabitant in France - there are many original productions in its 37 theaters. Theater, music, song and dance are performed with passion to the great satisfaction of a demanding audience that enjoys the pleasures of life.

There are festivals galore in the towns of the Bouches-du-Rhône. The area's identity is partly based on its festive traditions. Italian, Parisian and particularly Oriental influences nurture this cultural melting-pot and its unique character.

Even if one hears everywhere the never ceasing phrase that "tradition ist dying"; on cna affirm honestly that Provence has known how to conserve the treasures of its past. The arts and traditions of our Provençal land, nurtured from age to age by the love of the people for their region, are very alive today. The identity of a people, a way of thinking and da manner of behaving ist an art of living which ist expressed each day.

The Bouillabaisse- T he basic ingredients are rock-fish : red hog-fish, red gurnet, sea-devil (eelpout), John Dory, whiting, pageot, mackerel, sting-fish, saran, muraena and girella. However, the recipe varies with the seasons and the catch. A Bouillabaisse Charter has been signed by 16 restaurateurs who pledge to serve this speciality with the greatest respect to tradition.

Garlic - Main ingredient for the Provencal cuisine (especially "aïoli" - garlic mayonnaise). The Fair of garlic and "taraïettes" ( miniature crockery) in Marseilles - June. Garlic is sold in plaits or in bunches.

The Olive and the Olive Oil - The Departement is the largest olive producer. Most of the olives are used for the manufacture of olive oil. The varieties cultivated are "Picholine" and "Salonenque" also called "split olives of the Baux Valley". Olive-picking takes place according to the area from September to February. Table olives are still mainly hand-picked. Olive oil is mill-pressed.

La Pétanque - This game of boules is played from a stationary position, feet together, whence its name "Petanque". This variation of the traditional Provençal game of boules is said to have originated in La Ciotat in 1910. It is admittedly known thoughout the world but the most passionate games are played in the shady Provençal squares. Come and play!

Bull festivals - Actor or spectator ? or both... Participate in the arena or in public squares at the famous Bull Festival of Camargue. At the Arles Festival join the "aficionados" (bull fighting enthusiasts) who admire the best bull fighters. The Camargue race, or the "cocarde" race featuring the "raseteurs", local lads dressed in white, endeavouring to remove the rosette from between the bull's horns... Do not hesitate to run the "abrivado" to tease the bulls as close as possible while the proud mounted gardians try to restrain them. Admire our beautiful coloured posters featuring the programme!

The "Pastis" - Thirst for farniente, and the sun... It is pastis time. Made from aniseed liqueur and drunk with ice water, it quenches the thirst and loosens the tongue. A dash of orgeat and it becomes a "Mauresque". A must to taste!

The café terraces - It is well known that in Provence, winter does not exist and café terraces are always frequented from January to December. Each season has its rites : February and its lunches in the sun or summer evenings "sous la tonnelle" (al fresco under the vine bower) to rebuild the world amidst friends. Make yourself comfortable here in order to watch and be seen as well!

The Provençal fabrics - Their colours sing of Provence... From the square cotton scarf to the flounced petticoat which makes beauties look like gipsy girls, the Provençal prints, heirs to the earliest printed calico, fascinate the world, even Haute Couturethrough Christian Lacroix. From Orange to Tarascon, discover their manufacture and their secrets, admire their ancestral patterns in the small Provençal Museums and antique dealers' shops... You will succumb to temptation.


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