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Saints Days in the Cote d’Azur This June

29 March 2017


Delight in Fire, Fireworks, Sea and Sardines in the South of France

Famed for its glorious stretch of coast – bedecked with soft-white sands and the shimmering blue of the Bay of Saint-Tropez; Sainte-Maxime is a prime location to soak up the sun on your summer vacation. However, there is more to this Cote d’Azur town than days on the beach… and this June a world of cultural discovery awaits as locals take to the streets to celebrate the birthdays of Saint John and Saint Peter.

Saint John’s Day

24th June 2017

Nuit de la Saint-Jean is the French celebration of the birthday of Saint John the Baptist; which coincides with Midsummer – a festival of pagan origin, commemorating the summer solstice.

Over time, the various traditions of these native cultures have merged with the Christian aspects of the fête; creating one of the most anticipated holidays in the country – which is celebrated in the great outdoors accompanied by bonfires, music and fireworks.

This year you can expect much of the same; so be sure to get yourself down to City Hall for 8.30pm, when proceedings commence with the handing out of lanterns to all of the children in attendance. At 9pm, the Canigou Flame arrives in the town – following its journey from the peak of Mount Canigou; and the authorities of Sainte-Maxime will make brief speeches before the lantern procession leads spectators down to the beach.

Upon arrival at the beach, the traditional (and rather large) feu de Saint-Jean will be set ablaze. Feel free to join the locals as they perform pagan dances around the bonfire; or simply unwind and socialise amid the warmth of the fire as you watch the sun set over the sea… and once night falls (around 10.30pm) the fireworks display will begin. This is arguably the highlight of the St. John's Day celebrations, as the eruption of colour in the night sky reflects onto the dark expanse of the Gulf of Sainte-Maxime; making for one of those take-your-breath-away moments. And the evening is still young! Those of you who are not quite ready for bed can attend the Ball at the Théâtre de la Mer (for free) and dance long into the night; as the live orchestra delivers an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary rhythms that are assured to have you on your feet.

Nuit de la Saint-Jean is undoubtedly one of the highlights in Sainte-Maxime’s annual events calendar, so be sure to immerse yourself in this age-old tradition come 24th June. And fortunately… there’s not long to wait until another cultural climax takes over the town, as Saint Peter’s Day is celebrated just 5 days later.

Saint Peter’s Day

29th June 2017

Saint Peter’s Day is one of the most significant fêtes in the Christian calendar – especially for those living by the sea. Peter (or Pierre) is the patron saint for all whose livelihood is dependent upon the oceans; hence the celebration of his birthday is met with much enthusiasm across Sainte-Maxime and Southern France, given the regions close proximity to the Mediterranean.

The Provencal festivities will begin at 6pm with a traditional Mass service in the Eglise church – located in the centre of Sainte-Maxime – which is open to all! Once Mass is finished (at approximately 7pm) the congregation will be led in a procession down to the harbour pier; where locals and visitors alike have the chance to mingle before the religious ceremonies commence.

As the sun begins to set, members of the church will lead the procession into the sea and bless the boats; urging their safe return to shore after days fishing at sea, as well as the hope that their yield will be abundant. The blessing is accompanied by prayer and hymns, and even for those of differing or no religion – the spiritual ceremony makes for quite the spectacle; offering an insight into the longstanding traditions of Sainte-Maxime and the towns relationship with the sea.

After the boats have been blessed, prayers have been said and hymns have been sung; spectators will follow the procession away from the harbour towards the sounds of Lei Magnoti – the energetic folklore band who will perform the evening’s traditional dances. And once you’ve danced enough to work up an appetite, it’s time to indulge in the scintillating selection of seafood – caught fresh on the day – which culminates with a huge sardinade; the festive Mediterranean way of serving the bountiful sardines.

As with many festivals in Sainte-Maxime, they know how to finish the night in style; and a Ball will be held at the Théâtre de la Mer from 9:30pm, complete with the usual big sounds – provided courtesy of the exciting live orchestra. Be sure to attend Saint Peter’s Day this June 29th for a celebration of the sea; which promises good food, great company, cultural insights and dancing in abundance.

Book your summer getaway to Sainte-Maxime and enjoy a great range of exclusive offers, as you experience a luxury stay at Amarante Golf Plaza; located just 10 minutes away from all of the cultural action.

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130 Avenue Célestin Montcocol, Domaine du Golf, 83120, Sainte-Maxime, Tel: +33 4 94 56 66 66, Fax: +33 4 94 56 66 00, amarante-golf-plaza@jjwhotels.com