Les iles Paul Ricard

Christmas traditions in Provence

Rich in traditions, Christmas is a very important celebration in Provence in which the celebrations begin as early as November.

The period of the Advent is very important, mainly due to its fairs dedicated to “Santons”, who allow us to discover the artisans and to grow our “crèche” year after year. It takes place in houses in the beginning of December. These small painted terracotta characters are created by locals which come from Aubagne, Saint- Maximin, Barjol or even Marseille. Actually, many times have crèche festivals been organized by Mr. Paul Ricard on the Ile de Bendor, in the Vincent Scotto theatre.

The 24th of December, the Christmas table is set. It is traditionally made up of 3 white tablecloths and lit by 3 chandeliers and garnished with the wheat of Saint Barbara. There is an extra set of utensils for regardless the number of people sitting at this table to symbolize the poor’s seat. A small portion of the food is also put apart for him.

The day before Christmas starts with the “cacho-fio”. The youngest and the oldest must choose a bûche (which stands for wooden log in French) from a fruit tree and walk three times around the table.  The “papé” then puts the bûche in the chimney and blesses it with hot wine while speaking in Provencal.

The night is then split into 2 parts. First is the big supper which is served before the midnight mass. It is made up of 7 small dishes, which are essentially composed of vegetables, sometimes fish but never meat (Examples: spinach, garlic soup, anchovy purées…). After that, everyone leaves the table to attend the midnight mass, and in some towns, it is still possible to see a pastoral (theatrical nativity representation). It is only after the mass that the famous 13 desserts show up on the table. It is composed of 4 mendiants (each representing a different religious order); quince jelly, beignets, apples, pears, mandarin oranges, chocolates as well as the renowned Pompe a huile (galette made with fruited olive oil)… Depending on the regions and families, the selection of deserts may be different, but there is always 13 desserts because this number symbolizes the Messiah surrounded by his twelve apostles.

Les Îles Paul Ricard wish you happy holidays!

Portrait of Christophe Pacheco, executive Chef, “Meilleur ouvrier de France”

Image: Vanessa Cardoso – Site source : http://www.24heures.ch/

Christophe PACHECO arrived on Les Iles Paul Ricard in beginning 2015 to breathe new life the Iles Paul Ricard kitchens.

He discovered cooking at the age of 15 and was taught by the most renowned chefs. For him, cooking is a vocation, which he loves to pass on to the generations to come. He is a noble-hearted man who loves to satisfy fine gourmets. Christophe began to learn at the Jamin restaurant (ranked three stars in the famous Michelin guide), in Paris along Joël Robuchon. He then moved on to the Prince de Galles on George V Avenue. Eventually, he continued his career in La Closerie des Lilas and finally joined Guy Krenzer’s team, “Meilleur ouvrier de France” in catering.  He then decided to go on his own and opened his restaurant “Aux Armes de France” in Corbeil-Essonne (91), where he quickly obtained his fist Michelin star. (2004)

In 2007, he became in charge the events and restoration part of the Deauville resort in the Lucien Barrière Group. This is where he had the chance to meet Frédéric VINCENT, president of the SAHB (Societé d’aménagement et Hôtelière de Bendor) since September 2014.

In 2011, he decided to become the head of the gastronomic restaurant “Le Cinq”, of the Hotel and Spa “Au Coeur du Village”*****, in La Clusaz.

Then in September 2012, he became head of the kitchens of the gastronomic restaurant at a culinary school “Le Berceau des Sens” as well becoming responsible for education in practical arts of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. A school with worldwide fame in which he taught future hotel and restaurant managers.

With a burning passion, Christophe PACHECO is a competitor at heart who likes to fully embrace his passions, he combines precision with authenticity, “quality, pleasure, emotion, sensibility and elegance” are the words that define him. Thanks to his values and precision, he was prizewinner of the national cooking and patisserie contest in 2000 and awarded the title of “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” in gastronomic cooking in 2011.

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