Each part of Provence has its own variations on the traditional costume, such as the Haute Provence style with straw hats and cotton shawls, seen here in Arles. The costume of Arles itself has a lace shawl and distinctive coiffure that is shown off with a ribbon and lace cap.
Provence – Fact Check

Provençal first, French second?

Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Provence – Fact Check Provençal first, French second?

For centuries, the south of France was virtually independent from its northern neighbors. That sense of proud local identity is still visible today.

Tara Isabella Burton
Tara Isabella Burton Travel Writer

Ask anyone from Provence where they’re from, the saying goes, and they’ll tell you their village, first, then their region. That they’re “French” comes only as an afterthought. After all, for centuries, it was not French that was spoken here but the related Occitan dialect of Provençal: a dialect that, depending on who you ask, could be considered an independent language all its own.

And although speakers of Provençal have diminished in recent decades (polls vary widely, putting the number of speakers at between 100,000 and 800,000 people), several major “French” writers have worked to restore the dialect as a literary language: among them Théodore Aubanel, Joseph d’Arbaud, Robèrt LaFont, and more.

Natives of Provence also have their own regional folk costumes (like that of Arles, seen above) and folk traditions: that of “St. Barbe’s wheat”, for example, demands that wheat germ must be planted on December 4 in three various saucers. How well the germ grows is meant to determine the planter’s fate in coming years.

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