December in Provence : Tradition, Nature and Magic


With the festive season upon us, Provence gets its Christmas traditions ready. The villages light up at night while the streets fill with joyful spirit. There is much to see and experience: provençal Christmas markets, art and cultural events, seasonal outdoor activities, and other traditional events, in Cotignac and the wider region.

Enjoy a beautiful winter season at Lou Calen and experience a December like no other.

Christmas markets in the Haut-Var

Christmas markets are an essential part of the provençal winter season. Take a walk through the decorated stalls and chalets to find that special gift or that delicious local food speciality. 

Cotignac is setting the festive season aflame with a magical program. The festivities start on Sunday 3rd December at 4 pm with a Gospel music concert at Saint-Pierre church, with the Vaison Choir and its 40 choristers. On Friday 8th December at 5:30 pm, the village will reveal its seasonal splendour with the launch of the Christmas lights. As every year according to tradition, on Saturday 16th December at 6pm the Maurel parade will march through the centre of the village, which leads a fantastic weekend before the unmissable Christmas market taking place on the village square, the cours Gambetta, on Sunday 17th December, which in turns closes with a magnificent fireworks display that will set off from the two medieval Saracen towers overlooking the famous Cotignac cliff.

Not far from that spot, the Cala estate welcomes visitors on Saturday 16th December 2023 to get stuck in to its market: enjoy fresh local products and find the ideal gift from local artisans.

Save the date !

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023 : Brue-Auriac, Tavernes

Sunday December 3rd, 2023 : Vins-sur-Caramy, Aups, Régusse, Forcalqueiret

Saturday December, 9th 2023 : Barjols, La Verdière, Montfort-sur-Argens

Sunday December 10th, 2023 : Correns, Garéoult

Saturday December 16th, 2023 : Le Thoronet, Montmeyan, Méounes-lès-Montrieux

Sunday December 17th,  2023 : Cotignac, Tourtour, Varages

Activities for the whole family

The ‘santons’ of Provence

This was after the French Revolution so that the “santoun” were created to enable every Provencal family to celebrate the nativity. Lou Calen invites you to visit Le Val’s nativity scenes from 16th to 30th December, and the workshop spaces of specialised artisans: ‘Close to Provence‘ in Brignoles, the ‘Santons Paul Garrel‘ in Rocbaron, and the ‘Santons Denizou‘ in Tourves.

La Falaise de Cotignac

Visite du Rocher

Curious about the hidden gems of Cotignac? Take a hike with a local and discover our historic village. With a background in history and archaeology your bilingual guide will walk you through a journey through time until the Middle Ages. Choose between a 2 hour tour or a half day experience and get acquainted with one of the most beautiful villages in France.

The Prehistoric Museum in Quinson

This region is rich in prehistoric sites, and the Museum of Prehistory of the Gorges du Verdon presents a collection of local archaeological pieces across fifty years of excavation, including life-size representations of the first men and their prehistoric animals. Nearby, the Baume Bonne presents evidence of human presence in the gorges around 400,000 years ago.

The Musée des Gueules Rouges in Tourves

Musée des Gueules Rouges
With its fun adventure tour, the Musée des Gueules Rouges takes its visitors into the heart of the daily life of miners in a reconstructed extraction gallery.

The Musée des Comtes de Provence in Brignoles

Musée des Comtes de Provence
The Musée des Comtes de Provence explores the local history with material evidence as well as a magnificent collection of paintings by Provençal painters.

The Musée des Faïences in Varages

Beyond the artistic quality of the collection, rich with over a thousand pieces from the 17th to the 21st century, the Earthenware Museum traces the fabulous history of this tradition that has continued and been celebrated for three centuries.

Inspiring places for art lovers

The La Falaise Art Centre in Cotignac

The La Falaise Art Centre exhibits works by artists from all backgrounds throughout the year. In partnership with the schools of Cotignac, Carcès, Barjols, Brignoles, Monfort sur Argens, Salernes and IME Haut-Var, the current exhibition “Les Haring en herbe” celebrates young artists from 8th to 22nd December 2023. The local students have freely interpreted their own versions of the work of Keith Haring, a major artist within the Pop Art movement.

The Cistercian Abbey in Le Thoronet

Abbaye du Thoronet

The Thoronet Abbey is one of the three Cistercian wonders of Provence. Founded in 1146 by an order of monks from Ardèche, the simple architecture of the abbey and its surroundings expresses the purity and the humility of their spiritual life. From 15th October 2023 to 7th January 2024, the exhibition “The fabulous Cistercian epic” traces the fascinating history of the order of Cîteaux Benedictine monks and its influence on the West from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The HDE Var in Draguignan


Located in a 19th-century building in the heart of Draguignan, the Hotel départemental des Expositions du Var presents two exhibitions a year about history and civilisations. From 16th December 2023 to 24th March 2024, the HDE Var presents “Challenges and sports, from Antiquity to the Renaissance”, an exhibition set up as part of the Cultural Olympiad of Paris 2024 by the organising committee of the Olympic Games.


Peyrassol in Flassans-sur-Issole

Commanderie de Peyrassol

Founded in the 13th century by the Knights Templar, the Commanderie de Peyrassol covers almost 850 hectares of oak, olive and garrigue trees, protecting a vineyard of great renown. Featuring some of the great names in twentieth- and twenty-first-century art, the Philippe Austruy collection takes visitors on a journey through contemporary buildings, vineyards and undergrowth. A museum-style experience from Monday to Saturday.

The Chateauvert Art Centre

The Châteauvert Contemporary Art Centre is a wonderful arts apace along the Argens river.  Stroll between the exhibition room, the media library and the collection of sculptures exhibited in the garden room, in the midst of nature. In winter, the sculpture garden remains accessible 24/7. Don’t hesitate to come and walk around at any time to admire these extraordinary artworks which are in harmony with nature.

Château La Coste in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade

Château La Coste

38 magificent art installation masterpieces await you across four galleries in the midst of wild nature. You are invited to step into this unique experience surrounded by 124 hectares of vineyards. From 7th October 2023 to 7th January 2024, the Galerie des Anciens Chais will host the work of Makoto Ofune. The Japanese artist presents his particular viewpoint on the world.

Lou Calen's experiences

The Truffle Season

For over 25 years, the Canut family has been growing black truffles on their farm in Aups. Every winter Patrick and his daughter Lisa roam their oak plantation, guided by their dogs, to harvest the precious black diamond that is the truffle. Join them for an hour, participate in truffle hunting, and treat yourself to tasting your finds! An exclusive experience offered Monday to Wednesday from 2pm to 3.30pm.

Wine tasting within the heart of the vineyards

For all lovers of a decent bottle, wine tasting in the heart of the vineyards and their wine estates is an essential experience. Lou Calen has selected three renowned and celebrated wine producers: Domaine Aspras, Château Carpe Diem and Château La Calisse. Whether you opt for the half-day on an electric bike or the full day chauffeured by a driver, this immersive tasting experience promises to be unforgettable.

Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking

Explore the natural areas of the Haut-Var in any way you like, while enjoying the superb panoramic views of Provence. On foot, on horseback or by mountain bike, venture along lakes, country lanes, or into small villages. Lou Calen can suggest the very best local service providers or guides to accompany you and enrich your active holiday.

Experience the magic of Provence in December!

Lou Calen has a program that is as festive as it is delicious.