Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Xmas at Estoublon: Hot Air Balloons & More

There are scores of Christmas Markets in Provence; the ones in Aix and Avignon are two of the largest and loveliest. But many wineries now host beautiful Christmas Markets as well, selling their own products alongside other regional and seasonal goodies. Among those, the one at the Château d’Estoublon in Fontvieille has definitely become a favourite, a regular stop on the holiday-shopping circuit for many families and visitors in Provence. The Marché de Noël at Estoublon is now in full, festive swing...and, as in years past, you’ll find new products, activities and surprises.

Estoublon is a large wine and olive domaine, spread out around a magnificent 17th-century chateau, not far from the villages of Les Baux, Maussane and Paradou. (For the history of the
château and the property—which dates to the Middle Ages--click here.) This year, their 12th annual Marché de Noël fills three floors, with beautifully displayed Estoublon products, holiday foods, lots of candy for the kids, home decor, ornaments, clothing, elegant gifts, whimsical toys, art, handicrafts and more.

As in years past, the chapel is open for visits and the historic carousel is back....plus there are pony rides for the little ones (2
€).  Santa arrives at noon on Saturday December 22nd and he'll be around until 5 pm.

But what caught my eye were the hot air balloon rides, being offered for the first time this year by Montgolfières Méditerranée. On three Saturdays (Dec 8, 22 and 29), you'll be able to take a short (10 to 15 minute) ‘’baptême’’ (baptismal) flight for just 8€ per person.  (Private rides are 200€ per person). The flights depend on weather conditions, of course, and it’s best to reserve ahead because they’ll fill up quickly. I’m sure that seeing this vast domaine and surrounding countryside from the air will be a fabulous experience. To book, call 06 65 46 32 32 or email:

Meanwhile, Estoublon's atmospheric, vaulted restaurant Mogador is open throughout the holidays, all decked out with pretty lights. Plus, there’s a new chef in place, Franck Dumont, who worked previously at the well-known Le Passage in Aix and later, took over the restaurant at Golf des Baux (now closed for a major re-do). I’m hearing great things about his food. During the holidays, Franck serves lunch and afternoon tea (with a decadent array of desserts), from noon to 6 pm daily. Dinner is offered as well, but only on Friday and Saturday evenings. A special Thanksgiving dinner will be served for the first time on December  8th. For more info and reservations at Mogador, click here or call: 04 90 96 22 40 or 04 90 97 12 46. 

Also on December 8th, Estoublon will be displaying a number of high-end Harley-Davidson motorcycles...and rides may be possible. For more details on that,  call 04 90 59 78 70 or just show up.

The Christmas Market at Château d’Estoublon runs until December 29th. It’s open 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 7 pm, but closed on Sundays and on Christmas Day.

For more info, see the Estoublon website or call 04 90 54 54 00.

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  1. Julie we went to the Chateau d'Estoublon last weekend and loved it!!! Absolutely delightful as you described. Your blog is so wonderfully informative. Hope to see Avignon's Christmas market this weekend! Joyeux Noel.

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