Visiting Provence + the Luberon during Toussaint
I was just wondering if I could get some advice on what Provence and the Luberon areas are like in the week surrounding All Saints Day (Toussaint) on November 1. I've heard that a number of restaurants and businesses shut down around this time.
My husband and I will be visiting southern France this fall - from October 30 to November 4. We had wanted to base ourselves in Avignon or somewhere in the Luberon so we could visit the many restaurants, markets and wineries in the region - but we're concerned that many of these places might be closed during this time, especially in the smaller towns.
Some more specific questions:
* Do markets still take place on Nov. 1 (Thursday) or does everything really shut down on this day? Would we expect markets normally held on other days to be affected during this week?
* Do you think we should split our week with a larger city like Marseilles where more options might be available?
In theory markets operate all year long, as villagers still need to shop in the fall & winter. Granted there may be less (fresh produce) on offer, or certain touristy markets might not be in full bloom, but many markets will be around. (I don't have first-hand experience about Toussaint, but have a feeling any Thursday markets won't be affected.) As for restaurants, most holidays don't interfere with restaurants' operations. In fact, falling on a Thursday it will create its own 4-day weekend, when many French will want to dine out anyway. You just need to be aware of the fact that down here the weekly closing days vary enormously (SUN/MON, MON/TUE, TUE/WED, WED/THU, for instance), so always try to book ahead to avoid disappointment. (I just did a random spot-check of our favorite restaurants, and according to Michelin, the ones that close in November do so mid-month so you should be fine.)
Regarding your base of operations, for ease of getting around (in & out of town to go sightseeing or have dinner) - as well as hotel parking facilities - I think a countryside inn in the Luberon is preferable to a city like Avignon, Aix, or Marseille.
Thanks so much for the advice! We were definitely leaning towards a stay in the Luberons but didn't want to limit ourselves if the holiday did slow things down considerably -- esp. the markets. We'll start diving head-on into researching the area then :) -- seems like there's a wealth of information on the region here on CH.
Remember also that November 1 is often the beginning of the winter closure for many small tourist oriented businesses that are off the beaten track: chambre d'hotes, country auberges. Many of our target hosts are shuttered between November 1 and April 1.
Just wanted to add a quick update in case this might help anyone else in the future.
Thanks boredough! I think your advice was pretty on target. I confirmed with the tourism office at Isle Sur La Sorgue that the Thursday market will still take place on Nov. 1 -- though they noted that the number of vendors will probably be much less than normal. I'm thinking that other markets (at least the larger ones) in the area will probably be the same -- open during the holiday but more minimal. Many restaurants I've contacted so far have also replied saying that they'll be open normal hours on Nov. 1 + the surrounding week.
Thanks mangeur! I did come across some places that begin their seasonal closure around the time that we're in the area. Fortunately, it looks like there's a good selection of places that don't close until later in the month or early December so we'll still have some good options when we're there - yay! :)