Unique, Traditional, Deli...cious!

Posts

Le Jeu de Boules July 01 2017, 0 Comments

A Brief History of Pétanque

In our last month’s release we talked about Pastis and told you that Pétanque will be the topic of July. Why ? Pétanque & Pastis are intimately associated in Provence. For many locals it is inconceivable to play Pétanque without a glass (or more) of Pastis! 

A game of Pétanque is a moment to share and chill; a tradition deeply rooted in Provence. At the beginning of summer, when the weather is hot and dry, in all villages’ center you will see squares of Pétanque filled with players; old and young playing together. 

 

Anyone using the word “Pétanque" is not really a local of Provence!

Here we say “Boules”, witch is the name of the metal ball used in the French game of Pétanque. The city of Marseille is the undisputed capital du “Jeu de Boules”. Each year in early July the city hosts the world championship of Boules, created in 1962 by the pastis king, Paul Ricard. As you can see the Boules and Pastis cannot be separated! 

The tournament attracts over 4,000 teams and 12,000 players from a wide range of countries, including China and Madagascar, as well as from across Europe and North America. The tournament is cosmopolitan and universal and everybody can participate. During this week of tournament the city of Marseille takes the rhythm of Pétanque.

Today, around 17 million of French people play Pétanque  (almost 30% of the population of France). Pétanque has become very popular and you will see people from Wall Street playing Pétanque in New York or some Hollywood executives having a chilling moment with Pétanque in Santa Monica, California. The Pétanque is now worldwide !

 

The game has a long history. Papyrus scrolls with image of players and boules have been found within Egyptian tombs, and some clues shows that Pétanque was introduced to France by Antique Rome. In Italy, at the beginning of the 16th century, Pope Julius II formed the first Vatican Team which almost always won against its opponents. I wonder why :-) ! King Charles IV and Charles V of France forbade the sport to commoners; only in the 17th century was the ban lifted. During these hard times, Pétanque was being played in secret, especially in monasteries. 

 

What are the rules ?

At the beginning the Pétanque boules were stone balls then made of wood. The steel ones  appeared in the 20th century. They all have different marking line patterns to know which is who.

You play on a plane area made of fine gravel. Like the best games, the Pétanque has two characteristics: simple and very strategic. 

You can play one versus one, a duel ; or you can play teams versus teams (3 persons against 3 others). You play with six metal boules and a small wooden jack that Provence inhabitant called a “Cochonnet” (little pig) or a “bouchon” (plug). If you are playing in a duel, you will get 3 boules and if you are playing in a team, you only get 2. The game is won by the team or the person that reaches 13 points first. 

 

The aim of the Pétanque is to get your boule(s) the closest to the Cochonnet. The number of points you get depends on the number of boules you will have closer than the opponent(s) ones.  

For instance, if your boules are the blue ones, on the first picture you will get 1 point and on the second one you will get 3 points. 

 

 

At the beginning the starter will draw a circle around him in the gravels and launch the “Cochonnet” to a minimum of 7 meters (23 ft) and a maximum of 10 meters (33 ft). During the game if you hit and push the Cochonnet away with your boule, the distance must not exceed 20 meters (66 ft) from the drawn circle.

 

« Tu tires ou tu pointes ? »

 

There are 2 basic styles of play: 

“Pointer” or pointing involves placing your ball accurately: at the closest distance to the Cochonnet as possible or in front of the cochonnet to block your opponent’s boules access to it.

“Tirer”, or shooting: the aim is to knock your opponent's ball out of the game area. 

Players generally specialize in one or the other game style. In a team of 3 people, it is best to have one person who is good at both styles, shooter and pointer. He should be the last to play on your team.

 

Good to know:

Before being a sport, the Pétanque is fun and entertaining. It is an easy game to play with your family and your children. For instance you will be able to get a pack of fluorescent 

plastic balls for the younger children. This is a fun outdoor game, made to have a good time with family, friend, next door neighbors or even strangers met few minutes ago by a Pétanque game area or on the beach! 

 

Every Provençaux (inhabitant of Provence) have experimented a game of Pétanque in the shadow of a big plane tree.  Our recommendation: conclude this moment with a Calisson by Gilles coupled with a thirst slaking glass of Pastis. 

The good life of Provence !

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


Pastis in Provence June 01 2017, 0 Comments

 

Spring season is here, summer is right around the corner; the weather is becoming warmer each day, people starts going out and chilling outdoors throughout the cities and villages of Provence. Activities, festivals invade the streets and the famous “apéro” (aperitif) is unmissable.

Imagine you are sitting at one of the hundred’s outdoor cafés in Provence. The weather is hot, dry; the sun is shining and the sky is blue, so blue… a deep and colorful blue that you will only see in Provence. What could you order? Most Americans would order a cold beer but a Provençal (inhabitant of Provence) will order a Pastis, the most famous alcoholic beverages of Provence. Different versions of Pastis exist throughout the Mediterranean. For instance in Lebanon it is called Arrak, in Greece you will be able to taste the Ouzo and in Turkey it will be the Raki.

 

A little History:

Pastis is an alcoholic beverage mainly composed with star anise, licorice, white and pepper corns, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and sage. Each distillery keeps their recipe very secret. The denomination Pastis comes from the Provençal “Pastisson” and from Italian “Pasticchio” which means mixture, jumble. 

The university of Marseille, Provence led studies about the origins of this beverage. The searchers found clues that the Pastis originated in the region of Luberon where a hermit who was living in the forest collected herbs and stewed them. The juice extracted from it was boiled into a cauldron and had remarkable properties: it protected him of the plague, which was devastating the region at the time.

Pastis and absinthe have a common past. The latter has been banned in France and in other European countries because it contains hallucinogenic substances supposed to have driven many to insanity.

The legend says that absinthe led the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh to insanity and caused Paul Verlaine to shoot Arthur Rimbaud. That’s the reason why the absinthe was declared illegal in 1915.


At that time, a man named Mr Pernod owned an absinthe distillery in Montfavet, a village near the city of Avignon. In 1915 he was very disappointed about the new illegal status of the absinthe. Mr Pernod was a smart businessman. He changed the recipe and name of his absinthe to legally authorize its commercialization. The new alcoholic beverage became a commercial success.

Years later in Marseille, the father of Paul Ricard was a wine merchant who was taking his young son to the many bars of the city where pastis was essentially distilled in the back of each shop. Paul Ricard decided to distil his own pastis and sell it to bar owners around the city. It was a real success. Paul Ricard secret: promotion branding and modern marketing strategy. Rapidly the pastis Ricard became the bestselling pastis in Marseille and within the Provence area.

Originally Pernod and Ricard were fierce competitors but they joined forces in 1988 and Pernod-Ricard is now a worldwide company, which detains a huge panel of brands from all around the world. A commercial success that started right here in Provence.

 

 

Adopt the “Apéro” (cocktail hour) attitude :


When you order a pastis in Provence at a bar, the waiter
will always serve you a generous portion of Pastis in a glass that you will dilute to your taste with water. The usual ratio is 1/5 of Pastis to 4 of water. Pastis becomes milky white and cloudy when you mix in the water. You will smell this sweet aroma of anise that we call “the milk of Provence”, because all vegetables with anis flavor are from Provence: fennel, thyme, rosemary…

Never have a pastis in a hurry ; take the time to smell it, taste it, enjoy it! Having a pastis is a happy moment, a relaxing time, a time to enjoy the bright of the day and have a break. It is a time for light conversation with friends, talks of soccer and gossips. That’s the reason why inhabitants of Provence love their “apéro”!


 

Around the Pastis:

At the end of the 1980’s the pastis became a product where creativeness led some to imagine and make new sorts of Pastis. Henri Bardoin and Jean Boyer were the initiators of this new dynamic. The key words were, creativeness, tradition and inspiration. A lot of subtle mixtures and vintage creations came about. The house of Pastis was created to be the place where you can learn and understand a lot about the various pastis and their history. The aim was to unify this entire heritage in a single place.

Even Snoop Dog has tested our pastis!

 

 

By the way we can’t avoid talking about Pétanque when we talk about Pastis. During dry summer afternoons after a pastis and a Calisson by Gilles, the pétanque game is a tradition for many Provençaux (inhabitant of Provence). In the next article you will discover this game to correctly get into the summer season spirit. Stay tune!

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


La Bouillabaisse May 02 2017, 0 Comments

You cannot go to Marseille without eating a Bouillabaisse. You will find in this article an overview of the Bouillabaisse from its origin up to now when top chefs try to revolution this classic dish. We will share with you where to eat the best ones.

History

According to some, bouillabaisse was brought to Marseille by the Ancient Greeks in 600 B.C.

However people from Marseille, called Marseillais, love talking about a more colorful myth. The Roman goddess Venus made the soup to send her husband, Vulcan, to sleep so that she could pursue her love affair with Mars.

In fact, Bouillabaisse started as a simple fishermen's stew made from the leftovers they were not able to sell. It was composed with shellfish and rockfish. These would be cooked in a pot of seawater on a wood fire and seasoned with garlic, fennel and tomatoes.

In the 19th century, as Marseille became more prosperous, the recipe was refined by chefs and housewives. Spice like saffron was introduced and fish stock substituted for seawater.

 

Today various types of fish soups and stews are found all around the Mediterranean. What set the Bouillabaisse apart from the others are the Provençal herbs, spices, the flavor, the bony local fish and the way it is served.

The name Bouillabaisse finds its origin in the preparation method. The broth must come to the boil (bouillir) then, each time it does, the heat must be lowered (abaissé), and so: Bouillabaisse.

The different types of fish are added one by one depending on their individual cooking time. Because the best bouillabaisse takes time to prepare and requires fresh (not frozen) ingredients, many restaurants will require you to order it in advance, and will accept bookings for at least 4 persons.

Most restaurants on the Old Port of Marseille offer bouillabaisse, but quality varies widely and you're unlikely to be served the genuine article. So, in 1980 a "Bouillabaisse Charter" was drawn up by a group of restaurants who were convinced the tradition was becoming debased by these tourist traps.

The Restaurants which signed for this label are: Le Caribou, Le Rhul, Chez Caruso, Chez Fonfon, Le Miramar, L'Epuisette and Peron. You can definitely book a table there with confidence.

Since then, the circle has gradually expanded and now embraces members in Cassis, Avignon, Paris, even in Tunisia and Switzerland where chefs, originally from Marseille, decided to export this traditional dish.

 

Recipe

The recipe for bouillabaisse should include at least four of the following types of fishes:

  • Rascasse (Rockfish or Scorpion fish)
  • Araignée (Weever or Spider crab)
  • Galinette/Rouget (Red mullet)
  • Fielas/Congre (Conger eel)
  • Chapon/Scorpène (Red scorpion fish).

 

Among the other ingredients should be onions, tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, parsley, garlic, olive oil and saffron.

The bouillabaisse is served in two dishes.

The first one is the broth accompanied with croutons that you rub with a clove of garlic and spread with rouille. The Rouille is a bright orange mayonnaise flavoured with saffron, cayenne and garlic, it literally means "rust".

The second dish is the fish themselves. The fishes are presented on a platter whole at the table and filleted in front of the guests.

 

Where to eat Bouillabaisse

The Miramar is convenient if you want to stay around the Vieux Port (Old Port) of Marseille. The Miramar's recipe adds a healthy slug of pastis just before serving. Pastis is the local drink in Marseille. We will write a dedicated article on this subject which belongs to the Provencal heritage.

By the way the Miramar also offers a regular Bouillabaisse cooking course. If you want to learn how to cook a real Bouillabaisse, check with the Marseille Tourist Office and Miramar restaurant for details.

At the North end of the Old Port, overlooking the Catalans beach is another bouillabaisse institution, Chez Michel, a venerable fish restaurant dating back to 1946.

 

However, if you are prepared to take a short taxi or bus ride along the Corniche, the one restaurant consistently recommended by Marseillais is Chez Fonfon in the beautiful Vallon des Auffes, where the quality equals the view from the Vallon.

 

 

 

The Michelin-starred restaurant L'Epuisette is also at the Vallon des Auffes, pricier though.

 

If you have plenty of time on your hands, try the spectacular La Baie des Singes in Les Goudes.

For an adventure you can go for a walk in the Calanques (see our article of November 2016 talking about Cassis and its Calanques) and eat bouillabaisse at Le Château in the Calanque of Sormiou. To conclude your meal you will be able to taste a Calisson ice cream for dessert, a pure delight.

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


Sainte-Victoire! April 04 2017, 0 Comments

 

Majestic, impressing, the Sainte-Victoire (Saint Victory) mountain seems inaccessible. However, you can easy reach its top if you are not afraid of a few hours of effort.

Magical ways to reach the top of the Sainte-Victoire Mountain

Close to Aix en Provence, the Sainte-Victoire has been the main model of Cézanne paintings. We often pass by, we look at it from far, we imagine its summit, we dream of its view but only a few of us dare to climb.

Today you are invited to cross Sainte-Victoire from East to West. A trip to the many landscapes, numerous scents that will make you feel different after this trip. Let's be honest, to do the six and a half hours of walking, you need to be in good physical shape and a solid snack!

To begin this journey you will drive and park your car in the village of Puyloubier, starting point of the trek. The village of Puyloubier is located at the South East of the Sainte-Victoire mountain.

For almost two hours, the path takes you between pines, rocks and bushes. Two hours of climb, steep at times, but without any technical difficulty. Take your time, pace yourself and above all, discover at every step the beautiful landscape before you.

Between Sainte Baume and Mont Ventoux

As you climb, you will see the valley of the Arc with its vineyards. In the background the mountains that succeed each other: the Sainte Baume in the foreground, then the Auréliens Mountains and the Garlaban which spans the Pilon of the king. This visual getaway will take you gently towards the oratory of Malivert indicating that the path is turning to the left. Here you will leave the mostly wooded part of your journey towards le pic des Mouches (the peak of the Flies), the highest point (1011m).

Our advice: lay your bag, have a rest, look around and admire the magnificence of the landscapes:

To the south: The Garlaban made famous by Marcel Pagnol, with his stories between sea and mountain.

To the north, Jean Giono and his writings set between the Lubéron and Southern Alps.

Thanks to Cezanne, the Sainte Victoire mountain has earned the recognition it deserves.

From this point, your objective is at the far west side, the Grail of your quest: the Cross of Provence.

The sea at the Vauvenargues pass.

This may be the most fascinating moment of your trip as you walk these ridges that may look to be large but are indeed steeps when you prod along. Different universes will follow one another:

The first is a rocky atmosphere with the “Baou de l'Aigle” literally the Eagle’s cliff (“Baou” means cliff in Provençal dialect), a promontory where a Bonelli eagle couple would nest.

The second landscape is more arid. When the col de Vauvenargues is within reach, your eyes will plunge from there all the way to the Mediterranean sea behind Marseille!

Finally the third landscape is practically a lunar one! You won’t walk on the path but jumps from rock to rock, seeking the slightest trace of greenery on a ground covered with burnt grass.

Captivating, enigmatic; Solitary and Romantic are some of the adjectives that come to mind as you try to describe the experience.

Chart of colors

We forget our doubts and fears to reach the immense Croix de Provence (Cross of Provence). A cardinal point of all the roads, built in 1875, the Cross of Provence was lightning stricken twice. Old people say that it was to attract the misfortunes to protect the population around. For more than a century, The Cross of of Provence continues to watch over its Provencal flocks.

 

A last look to the snowy Alps and you are already to go down to visit the Prieuré, an edifice of the 13th century which is located a short distance under the Cross.

Here you will find a peaceful and quiet place; a natural shelter in a middle of the rock which blocks strong Mistral wind. It is a refuge where trekkers can have a break, spend the night and burn some woods in the fireplace. If you want to experience something special, do an afternoon walk to the Prieuré and spend the night.

Ingredients to get a memorable moment: Woods to put in the fireplace and plenty of food! Stop on the way at the local markets of the numerous villages around Sainte Victoire mountain and pick some specialties that you will taste here. Buy red wines, olives, cheese, fougasse and other specialties. Do not forget to pack some Calissons to conclude this unique experience.

Practical information of the trail:

Average travel time: 6h30

Distance: 17 km

Unusual

The Garagaï 

Just before reaching the Croix de Provence is the GaragaÏ: A fairly steep gap, a natural opening between the north and the south of the Sainte Victoire Mountain; the cave of swallows.

 

 

The dinosaurs’ eggs reserve: 

Pronounce Sainte Victoire in front of any paleontologist and he will answer: Dinosaurs! Indeed, the Sainte Victoire has one of the richest reserves of dinosaur eggs in the world!

More than 70 million years ago, it was here that the great reptilians deposited hundreds of eggs. Excavations are regularly carried out to understand the mysterious disappearances of the dinosaurs.

For Bikers

The road around the villages of Puyloubier, Saint Antonin are famous for bikers who enjoy taking this strip of asphalt which snakes within this beautiful landscapes. Restaurants in this area are very tasty for a meal to relax.

Extreme sports:

For lovers of extreme sports, the Sainte Victoire is a famous spot for paragliders! Here you will be able to take off in front of the Bimont Lake, take updrafts and fly over the Croix de Provence. Warning, this spot is beautiful but very dangerous because of the strong Mistral wind that can appears suddenly and push you against the sharps cliffs.

Climb spots: Obviously there are numerous spots for experience climbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) 'The Father of Modern Art', according to Picasso February 25 2017, 0 Comments

He is widely known as one of the artists who had a lot of influence in the history of 20th century painting. He was born and died in his beloved Aix-en-Provence - the town and local countryside are featured many times in his most famous paintings and were a lifelong inspiration to his work. 

 

His life

Paul Cézanne originates from a wealthy middle-class family in Provence. His father owned a prosperous hat business in Aix.

Cézanne made all his studies in Aix en Provence, acquiring a solid traditional culture and made friends with some of his classmates, especially Emile Zola his best friend and most intimate confidant.

As his father intended that he studied law, he registered at the faculty of Aix in 1858. His artistic vocation however was advanced enough that he thought of going to study painting in Paris.

He made a first Parisian stay in spring and summer of 1861, enrolling at the Academy Suisse where he meets Pissarro and Guillaumin. Cézanne failed to the entrance exam to the School of Fine Arts. Hence he returned to Aix to work in his father's bank. He left again one year later for Paris where he re-registered at the Academy Suisse. It was then that Cezanne gave up his hesitations, discouragement and decided to be a painter.

Cézanne, being a self-educated painter, his first paintings were qualified as awkward compared to the others Impressionists of the 20th century. However his work already shows a great diversity of genres: portraits, historical or religious scenes, still life paintings, landscapes of Provence...

Thanks to the paternal support, the young painter does not have the same money problems as some of his friends (Monet, Renoir, Guillaumin).

In 1869, Cezanne meets Hortense Fiquet, a model who will become his companion. 

Cezanne was afraid of his father, a narrow-minded and severe man, and hide the relationship to him until 1878, 6 years after the birth of his son Paul.

The couple passes the war of 1870-1871 in Provence, then returns to settle in Paris. In 1871, Pissaro proposed to Cezanne to settle in Pontoise with his family. Their collaboration will be very intense and profitable for the two of them. At this time Cézanne totally changed his way of painting. Cézanne will devote especially to painting landscape in open-air.

Cezanne painted his landscapes in Ile-de-France area, and in his native Provence where he wandered through the hills around the Sainte-Victoire Mountain. Starting from then, Cézanne was spending more and more time in Provence.

On October 15, 1906, Cezanne was painting in the countryside close to mountain of Sainte Victoire when he was surprised by a storm. He had a fainting fit and stayed for many hours unconscious under the rain before being loaded on a cart and brought to his house. While he was in a very bad shape, he was thinking of his unfinished paintings and sends a furiously written note to his supplier of colors: "For 8 days I have ordered 10 tubes of lacquers and not yet received a reply. What is going on? Please answer me quickly.”

This reflects the importance that his painting was more important than his health.

Few days after his discomfort, he went to work in his garden with a portrait of the gardener Vallier. He came back in a very bad condition. When his family arrives, it is too late to see him alive again. Paul Cézanne died on October 23, 1906, at the age of 67 years. He is buried in the cemetery of Aix en Provence.

The role of art amateurs in his recognition was quite essential, during his lifetime and after his death. It is indeed Ambroise Vollard a French art dealer who revealed Cézanne to his contemporaries and made him truly popular in France in 1895.

 

 Legacy

Cezanne who was no considered at his beginnings, and still late in his life, appears today to be a capital figure in art history.

Painting was for him work of a workman, a solitary work, except for rare moments, almost painful, practiced without interruption.

Cezanne placed very high the aims of art, wanting to produce paintings "which are a teaching". Also his paintings are increasingly considered as it ages, matured in the introspection. He was an artist who brought the Nature at the first plan.

In 2006 the city of Aix-en-Provence celebrated the centenial of Paul Cézanne's death with a year rich in demonstrations. The exhibition "Cézanne in Provence", of international significance, inaugurated the reopening of the Granet museum which is one of the richest museums in Provence. 120 major works (80 oils, 40 water colors) painted by Cézanne in Provence or on the subject of the Provence landscapes.

Many of these paintings are lent to international museums and private collections.

Moreover, visitors after the visit of the exhibition will be able to discover the places of Cezanne's life in Aix countryside, the points of view on Sainte-Victoire, the Bibémus quarry, Jas de Bouffan, and all the other places always impressed of his presence.

The legacy of Cézanne in Provence is impressive. For instance, you will for sure drive with your car on boulevards called Cezanne in Provence, park your car at the Cezanne Parking, book a room in a Cezanne Hotel and a lot more. Cézanne is everywhere! Even meeting rooms of an international company in Provence use the name of Cézanne!

A lot of schools and architectural buildings use his name in tribute of his artwork and heritage. Cezanne reminds sweet and charming Provence. Indirectly he made the region of Provence famous around the world; you can feel the love he had for this region throughout his paintings that is the reason why Calissons by Gilles is honored to count the Cezanne collection in our product line.

 

Things to do around Cézanne

If you plan walking in the footsteps of Cézanne, there are a lot of spots to visit.

The first one and essential is the Sainte Victoire Mountain where Cézanne made a lot of paintings of this picturesque landscape. Unbelievable, this landscape hasn’t change since then. You’ll feel totally connected and immerged there. For this you can reach the village of Beaurecueil where some spots are referenced as point of view where Cezanne has made his paintings. There is a path that you can follow.

Close to the Sainte Victoire Mountain, the Bibémus quarry gave rise to a series of paintings from Cézanne. You can reach this point via a bus line in Aix en Provence which will bring you there. At this point you will be able to follow a path that will lead to the lake of Zola, a beautiful and quiet place to have a break.

 

 Then you can visit the village of Gardanne to stroll at the cours of Gardanne on a Sunday, day of market, (one of the beautiful one of the area) and take a coffee in a Bar installed just under an apartment where Cezanne lived with his family. You won’t miss it! The city is proud of this heritage and clearly displays it to the visitors.

Gardanne is the only village that Cézanne ever painted.

This is one of three views of Gardanne, a hill town near Aix-en-Provence.
Currently, this painting is on exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
 
You still can reach the place where Cézanne made this painting; follow the hill of Brothers path (‘la colline des frères’) in Gardanne.

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


Charming villages of the Luberon January 05 2017, 0 Comments

Calisson By Gilles wishes you a Happy New Year with the hope of many blessings in the coming year.

We start this New Year with a journey in the charming villages of the Luberon in Provence.

The first one is Rustrel, commonly called: the French Colorado.

The French Colorado is located in the small village of Rustrel in the Luberon.

The 700 inhabitants of this area are living in what they call their 'Colorado'. The area stretches over 80 acres and offers an amazing range of colors, from a bright and slight yellow to an intense orange reminding the actual Colorado in America.

The Colorado of Rustrel comes from its rock: The ochre. The ochre is an intense orange  pigment containing clay, sand and iron. For this reason the Colorado of Rustrel was exploited during 2 centuries for its precious ochre. This area was known as the best quality ochre pigment in France.

 

 

 

 

Villages of Provence have become famous for their strong colored façades, ochre was used in the coating process. Ochre is well suited for hot and dry days of summer in Provence. The best example is the village of Roussillon commonly called "les Ocres de Roussillon" literally "Roussilon's ochre".

Nowadays you can go for a walk to visit this famous place which ranks among the most beautiful attractions in Provence. Once parked at the car park, you will have to follow the path that crosses the pine forest to finally get there. The hues of colors you can see there is simply breathtaking. The green of the forest, the yellow sand on the ground and the wonderful orange walls will let you without voice!

 

The second village that we will visit is the picturesque village called "les Baux de Provence".

It's a small Medieval village which has been particularly preserved throughout the centuries. Les Baux de Provence is one of the most visited villages in France.

 Let's jump back in the Middle Ages and visit. You will be able to walk the ancient streets (rue), reach the fortified castle and enjoy the magnificent views.

Our advice is to plan a day to visit the old village in the morning, enjoy a meal in one of the numerous restaurants, chilling a little before continuing with the visit of the fortified castle in the afternoon.

 

The old village stretches along a sharp hillside with the fortified castle perched at the top, so bring good shoes for the event! The stone steps are irregular and olds but the view is amazing.

Our tip when you visit the Castle is to book for the audio guide which will bring you centuries back! The place is very crowded in the summer so if you can, plan a visit in the off-season. It is definitely worth it.

 

 

 

 

Our third and last stop today is the village of Gordes and once more Gordes ranks in the most beautiful villages of France. Provence is definitely a wonderful Region!

The village of Gordes is perched on a rock at more than 600 meters high overlooking the Luberon in a privileged position. Gordes is the most visited village of Luberon and is lucky to have more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Gordes is spotted as an "in" Village where Hollywood movies stars and artists have made it their home! The book of Peter Mayle, A year in Provence, likely contributes to this success.

 

Gordes is famous for its houses of white and gray stones, which are build in spiral around the mountain. At the very top are the church and the castle. You have to plan a day to visit this picturesque and charming village. Let's go for a stroll around the tiny and ancient paved streets that climb between the olds rock stairs and tall houses. You will discover beautiful arcades and old doorways. Strollers are not recommended; too complicated with all the stairs.

 

The perched position of the village is a godsend for predatory birds and you will be able to see a lot of eagle species. Around the village the typical Mediterranean trees (oaks and olive trees) will reinforce the “atmosphere” of escape and evasion.

 

 

 

 

Another un-miss-able sightseeing if you are visiting this area is the abbey of Senanque hidden down in the valley. Remember, we have already talked about it in our previous article: "the Lavender in Provence".

Calisson By Gilles are so much a part of this sweet atmosphere, eat one, close your eyes…. You’ll be there!

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


Christmas in Provence December 05 2016, 0 Comments

We could resume the Christmas traditions in Provence like this : Rich symbols with strongs emotions.

If you spent your childhood in Provence, you remember all the traditions such as sowing the wheat or building and mounting the Nativity at home during the cold and windy afternoons of December.

Everything starts on December 4th , day of the Sainte Barbe (Saint Barbara). This day rings the beginning of “Calendale” period that will end at the Chandeleur (Candlemas) on February 2nd. During these two months you can enjoy a succession of traditions and celebration throughout the villages of Provence.

The wheat of Sainte Barbe:

On December 4th , you have to sow seeds of wheat and lentil on three saucers covered by humid cotton. The small packets of seeds are sold in almost every bakeries and profits are distributed to charitable organization. If the stalks are growing straight and are green, that means the coming year will be prosper. These little fields will be placed afterwards within the Nativity Scene “la Crèche”.

 The Crèche and Santons

To prepare the Crèche, many “santon’ fairs” are organized throughout Provence starting mid November. The real santon, the Provençal "Santoun" (small saint) is made of clay. It is created artisanally by hand and with love. There are hundreds of workshops between Marseille, Aubagne, Aix en Provence and Arles.

The figurines must take on human figure, a look, character and even a social rank. They represent the villagers going to the Crèche: petanque players, fish dealers, doctors, bakers, shepherds and many more ... The authentic Crèche is in fact an ideal representation of a Provençal village

 Christmas Markets

In December, Christmas markets take place in every town, and allow you to prepare Christmas pleasantly. Gastronomy, crafts, decoration and gift ideas spread out in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

The open-air markets often offer hot cinnamon wine to warm you up. You will find everything you need to prepare the traditional Christmas meals , Provençale or not: turkeys and foie gras side the dishes of the big Provencal dinner and the 13 desserts.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve: the Supper

The supper is served on Christmas Eve before going to Midnight Mass. Nothing is left randomly, there is a symbolic behind each dish and everything is important.

The table is covered with 3 white tablecloths - with 3 lighted white candlesticks and 3 saucers of germinated wheat from the Sainte Barbe - the Trinity - Especially no mistletoe reputed to be bad luck!

The Large Supper “Gros Souper” is paradoxically composed of 7 charity plates in memory of the 7 pains of Mary. It is served with 13 little breads followed by 13 desserts representing the Last Supper with the twelve apostles and Jesus.

The charity plates differs from one corner of Provence to another. We often find celery, cauliflower, spinach, cod, omelet, snails, garlic soup, but no meat; only fish or shellfish.

The Midnight Mass

Everywhere you will hear Provençal Christmas songs, to celebrate this sacred moment. In some villages, the Mass may be in Provencal. The mass can include a living Crèche where the figures are represented by the villagers themselves in traditional costumes: the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, Joseph), the Biblical Magi and the shepherds.

A pastoral can also take place: it is a representation of the Nativity, sung and spoken in Provencal by characters dressed in Provençal costumes. The most famous Pastoral representation is the Maurel Pastoral in Aix en Provence. There are 250 different versions that tell stories of villages and Christmas traditions.

Christmas Eve: the Supper: the 13 desserts

The 13 desserts are the only abundance. The thirteen desserts are enjoyed at the return of the mass, they will remain on the table during the following 3 days, until December 27.

The 4 beggars, in memory of the various religious orders having made vows of poverty:

  • dry figs (Franciscans)
  • almonds (Carmelite)
  • dry grapes (Dominicans)
  • walnuts (Augustins)

The dates: the symbol of Jesus Christ coming from the East

The nougats : white nougats in memory of white penitents and black nougats in memory of black ones

The olive oil’s fougasse (the pump): round slab flattened with olive oil

Candied fruit from the region of Apt and Carpentras

“Les oreillettes”: small and light waffles

Fresh fruits: Orange, pear, grapes, mandarine

For sure, you will see between all these desserts the Calisson as a candy and often associated with the nougats. Calisson by Gilles is deeply rooted with Provençal traditions and is a family favorite during this important moment of Christmas.

 

 

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


Cassis, between land and sea November 05 2016, 0 Comments

 

Is there a little of Cassis in the U.S.A?

The French village of Cassis is known for many things. One of them is “the stone of Cassis”. The stone is very hard and resistant slightly orange colored. The Stone of Cassis, which was quarried since antiquity made the town famous. It has been used in the construction of Mediterranean ports such as Alexandria, Algiers, Piraeus, and Marseille, Tradition says that it was used for the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

 

Only 30 km from Marseille, the beautiful village of Cassis will definitely charm you with its old downtown and its picturesque streets that lead to a lovely and colorful fishing port. Inlands, vineyards surround the town, and near the coast, the Calanques and the Cap Canaille mountains dive into the Mediterranean Sea. There is a lot of attractions and must see activities to discover here:

Go for a walk in the Calanques

A Calanque is a steep-sided valley found along the Mediterranean coast. If you want to enjoy the peacefulness and panoramic views of a Calanque you will have to wake up early and walk some to reach these spots but it is totally worth it! By the way you don’t have to be a confirmed hiker to go for a walk in the Calanques. The Calanque de Port-Miou, the only one located in the town of Cassis, can be reach in only 10 minutes by foot, you have no excuse! Park your car in the old city village and keep walking along the GR 98 (Great Treck Road 98). Keep walking toward Marseille and you will reach the other calanques : Port-Pin, En-Vau, Sormiou, etc. Another magical way is to take a boat tour to visit these beautiful Calanques.

Stroll in Cassis port

The port of Cassis is an emblematic place. You can walk along the port and stop for a break at one of the many cafés and restaurants. You will be seated right in front of the port’s beautiful boats. At sunset, the façades, illuminated by sunlight, become almost orange. You can book a table at the restaurant to have a dinner or simply stop before nightfall to have a glass of white wine with some olives and watch the castle of Cassis perched on a rock above the port. You won’t be disappointed.

Ride the Route des Crêtes and admire the panorama of Cap Canaille

To reach Cassis from La Ciotat, the best way is to take la route des Crêtes which crosses the Cap Canaille mountains range. You must take this road and stop to admire the breathtaking view. The cliffs are the highest maritime cliffs of Europe! Their summit, called “the big head”, is 394 meters high. From the Route des Crêtes you will see the gulf of Cassis, overlooking the village. There are many car parks along the road to stop and admire the view. A walking and biking trail of about 12 kilometers allows you to discover these exceptional landscapes.

Taste the local products on Cassis market

The Cassis’s Market “Le marché de Cassis” takes place every Wednesday and Friday in the town centre. Forty local merchants and farmers sell their products: fruits, vegetables, condiments, fishes, meats and bake goods. Go and wander there to feel the unique atmosphere of an authentic market.

Discover Cassis vineyards and wines

French people commonly say “après l’effort le réconfort” meaning “after effort comfort comes”. Hence Cassis gathers 12 wine domains and they have been well known for a long time. Its reputation comes from the white wines that are delightful and known worldwide. The town produces red and rosés wines too. In 1936, Cassis wines get the label “AOC” meaning controlled designation of origin, they were the first in Provence to get the label! Feel free to walk around the vineyards and pay a visit to the winegrowers. It is possible to visit the caves, the vineyards, and experiment a wine tasting. For sure you will be able to buy some bottles after the visit. Our advice is to taste a white wine of Cassis with a fresh fish lemon sauce. Conclude this meal with some sweets Calissons by Gilles. What else?

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.


by Gilles
23416 Caminito Valle Laguna Hills Orange County, CA 92653 United States 800-334-2081 gilles@bygilles.com
by Gilles
23416 Caminito Valle Laguna Hills Orange County, CA 92653 United States
800-334-2081 gilles@bygilles.com