Grambois gets a jump on Christmas

Grambois Christmas star.

Grambois Christmas star.

Christmas markets are everywhere these days.  But none can compare with the original version in Germany.  I miss the real thing, those romantic, storybook holiday markets:  tiny twinkling lights (usually white or golden – not a jumble of gaudy colors), hot glϋhwein, savory sausages, spicy cookies, church bells, Christmas carols – all basking in German gemϋtlichkeit.

Grambois tree and Christmas cat.

Grambois tree and Christmas cat.

Since I am usually disappointed with French Christmas markets, I rarely visit them. Grambois was an exception. I read that this nearby perched town would

Santa arrives in Grambois.

Santa arrives in Grambois.

start the holiday season early with a Christmas market this weekend, Nov. 16 and 17.  And, an American, the Provence head of a charitable organization, Calcutta Rescue, would be there with a stand selling items made by poor Indians.

There are plenty of Brits, Dutch, Belgians, and some Germans, living among the French in this picturesque part of France.  But, very few Americans.  I wanted to meet him and learn more about Calcutta Rescue.grambois.1

Glen Kendall, originally from Grand Junction, Co., lives with his Dutch wife in this burg of 1100 citizens.  He had been working for a software company in London when he saw an ad for an administrator for the Calcutta based charity.  He got the job and was off to Calcutta for a year.  He said he’s been to other parts of India, but nothing prepared him for Calcutta. “It’s full of energy 24 hours per day, chaotic, filthy, polluted.”  He lived in a Muslim slum where the electricity worked about two thirds of the day.  The people made the job.  “The poor people have a joie de vivre that’s inspirational.  It makes you happy to be alive. It’s hard to believe they live under a piece of plastic.”

Kendall in Calcutta

Kendall in Calcutta

Calcutta Rescue (www.calcuttarescue.org) helps the indigent of Calcutta, most of whom live on less than one euro per day.  The organization runs three medical clinics and supports more than 600 poor children, most living in the streets, providing them with funds to go to school, clothes, two meals per day and medical care. A handicrafts project was started to teach former clinic patients how to sew.  They learn a skill which can help them survive.   They make clothes and handicraft items (cards, bags, embroidered napkins, etc).  The latter are offered at the Grambois Christmas market. I especially liked the small embroidered bags containing Indian spices.grambois.2

Kendall saw that I had a camera.  “Let me show you something most visitors to Grambois don’t see, “  he said.  He led me outside of the old village, down some steps to an incredible tree, a multi-trunked oak thought to be more than 300 years old.  And, he told me where to wander for more photos.grambois.4

We frequently drive on the main road below ancient Grambois. One time we followed the twisty road uphill to the village, but did not get out to explore.  Now was my chance. It’s worth a trip.  The town’s origins date to the 11th century.  Vestiges of 14th century walls still stand.  There’s a Romanesque church, a bell tower, a fountain, and meandering stone alleys – all restored.  Plus, lovely views of the Luberon hills.grambois.9

Those hills were alive with a rainbow of fall colors glowing in the strong Provencal sunshine.  It was warm – not at all like Christmas.  But I am glad I visited this holiday market and discovered Glen Kendall, Calcutta Rescue and inviting Grambois.grambois.8

info.calcuttarescueprovence@gmail.com

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Stay tuned.  Post on Wild and Wonderful Corsica coming very soon.         

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7 responses to “Grambois gets a jump on Christmas

  1. Sounds like a lovely market and a great opportunity to meet some interesting people. I’m surprised I didn’t see signs for the market as I drove past Grambois yesterday. Maybe I was dutifully keeping my eyes on the road. I did notice signs for a Christmas market in La Tour d’Aigues tho! That’s next week!

    • It’s very nice, with the stands spread out throughout the village — some indoors. Ceramics, sausages, soaps, hats, decorations — plus the items from Calcutta Rescue and more — are offered.

  2. I am glad and proud to modestly belong to the team of CR ,selling items on the stand of Grambois Market . it makes me meet lots of interesting people and realizr how happy we are to live in a spoilt society when others are so poor .

  3. Thank you for your efforts. I hope you sell lots for the benefit of Calcutta’s needy.
    .

  4. How many times I’ve driven that road and looked up at at perched Grambois, thinking I’d stop, but never did! Thank you once again Leah for pointed out something worthwhile right under my nose! We’ve all come to depend on you for scouting, reconnaissance and inspiration as we become a bit jaded and settled in our routines :-)

  5. Gayle S. Padgett

    Hello Leah,
    Thanks for sharing this uplifting story…really amazing what Glen has helped to achieve in India and how he continues to contribute from tiny Grambois. Years ago I met a market vendor from Grambois and he urged us to visit which we did–so adorable and such fantastic views. We’ve been back a few times since but never saw that magnificent tree.
    How we adore German Christmas markets…any chance of a Kartoffelpuffer in Provence?
    Gayle

  6. Thanks Gayle and Lynne for bieng faithful blog followers and providing such gratifying comments. Yes, Grambois is lovely and Calcutta Rescue is a very worthwhile cause. If you want a kartoffelpuffer, Gayle, I think I’ll have to make it for you… next time you visit. I crave a tiny Nuernberger bratwurst.

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