Cucuron is one of Provence’s prettiest villages and every May it hosts one of its strangest festivals: Le Mai de Sainte Tulle.

Le Mai de Sainte Tulle dates back to 1720, the time of the Great Plague that killed 100,000 people in Marseille, and had spread out to the provinces. In Cucuron, 1,000 lives were lost when the villagers prayed to Sainte Tulle for salvation. And suddenly… the plague stopped in its tracks.

To thank Sainte Tulle for saving them, every year since and for ever more, the people of Cucuron pledge a poplar tree as high as their church in honour of their saint.

To take part in the 2016 running of this intriguing festival, head to Cucuron on May 28th. You will be met with a tide of humanity bearing a great poplar tree, ridden by a child dressed in period uniform and bearing the tricolore flag, till they reach the church square.

With shouts of encouragement and much advice, the tree is hoisted into position against the church to verify it really is as high. When the bells are rung, the village is safe for another year, and Provencal dancing ensues.

If you miss the festival itself, the tree remains in place outside the church of Cucuron until the 14th of August every year.

And we have many hand-picked Provence vacation rentals ideally placed for a visit to Cucuron.