The holiday season is approaching quickly, and if you’re in search of a destination where the enchantment of Christmas operates at every street corner, think about the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. This iconic enclave on the French Riviera, known for its timeless elegance, offers more than just renowned beaches and sparkling yachts. Discover how our region transforms into a festive haven, where Christmas traditions take center stage.
Explore Provençal Christmas traditions
In the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, we cherish our customs. While some may be debated due to their religious origins, such as nativity scenes, they are still perpetuated with vigor and enthusiasm by the custodians of our Provençal heritage.
On La Garde Freinet, Maxime Codou and the Association of Friends of the Nativity Scene (ACMC) invite you to discover thousands of ‘santons’ in the superb Saint-Jean Chapel. The exhibition opens on December 2nd; you will find all the necessary information here.
On Saturday, December 2nd, at 5 PM, you can also attend a Nativity play (pastorale in French) at the ‘foyer des campagnes’ in Plan-de-la-Tour.
A pastorale is a theatrical representation that stages biblical characters, primarily related to the Nativity, in a Provençal context. The actors wear traditional costumes and perform scenes highlighting key moments of Christian history, such as the procession of shepherds (« pastres » in Provençal) going to the nativity scene to offer gifts to Jesus.
Festive Gastronomy and Mediterranean Delights
Gastronomy holds a place of honor in Christmas celebrations in Saint-Tropez. Michelin-starred restaurants and elegant brasseries create festive menus highlighting the delights of the region. Savor refined dishes that blend the flavors of the Mediterranean with French culinary excellence. A candlelit dinner in one of the starred establishments in the region becomes an unforgettable sensory experience, where each bite reveals the essence of Provencal cuisine.
We also invite you to discover or recreate at home the Provençal tradition of the 13 desserts at Christmas.
This tradition dates back to the 18th century and symbolizes the twelve apostles gathered around Jesus during the Last Supper, the meal Jesus had with his disciples before the crucifixion. The 13 desserts represent a variety of flavors, combining dried fruits, fresh fruits, and local specialties.
Here is a list of typical elements of the Provençal 13 desserts:
- The Four Mendiants: Almonds (representing the Carmelites), dried figs (for the Franciscans), walnuts (for the Dominicans), and raisins (for the Augustinians).
- Dried fruits: Dates, hazelnuts, almonds, and dried figs.
- Fresh fruits: Apples, pears, oranges, and grapes.
- White and black nougat: White nougat is often made with almonds, while black nougat is made with hazelnuts or pistachios.
- Quince paste
- Fougasse: A type of sweet bread sometimes adorned with candied fruits.
- Almond paste: Often shaped like fruits or small animals.
- Calisson: A diamond-shaped confection composed of flavored almond paste, candied orange peel, and a thin layer of royal icing.
- Grapes: Fresh, symbolizing prosperity.
This tradition reflects the abundance and diversity of the region’s products. The 13 desserts are arranged on a table, and everyone is invited to enjoy them with family or friends, extending the Christmas festivities with warmth and indulgence.
A Winter Getaway by the Sea
For those seeking a more intimate experience, winter in Saint-Tropez offers the tranquility of an off-season escape. The peaceful beaches invite serene strolls, while café terraces provide breathtaking views of the calm gulf. Treat yourself to a well-being interlude in one of the region’s luxurious spas, where soothing treatments are designed to revitalize you during this celebratory period.
On December 23rd, join the festivities to welcome Santa Claus, who arrives by sea in Sainte-Maxime.
In conclusion, spending the Christmas holidays in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez emerges as a captivating choice for those seeking a memorable celebration in an exceptional setting. Between festive traditions, renowned gastronomy, and Mediterranean charm, Grimaud, and more broadly, the entire Gulf of Saint-Tropez, unveil an enchanting facet of the French Riviera, ready to welcome those in search of the extraordinary in every moment of the year-end celebrations.