The Good Life in Provence
Provence can undoubtedly offer the good life (gorgeous climate, stunning scenery, rich culture and history), easily accessible by way of your luxury property, but it’s also the ideal location for food and wine lovers, with countless opportunities to indulge in some of France’s finest food and drink.
You’ll notice a lot of Mediterranean-influenced dishes here, which create a distinct cuisine that’s unique to this part of France. Dine al fresco when the weather is warm and sunny – your seat will offer you a view of the sea or the countryside. Life in Provence is a joy!
Authentic Provencal Cuisine
Chefs in Provence rely on traditional French cooking techniques, then add the seafood and spices that are so obtainable along the Med. The mountains are close by, too, indicated by the rich garlic, goat cheese and olive oil found in many recipes. The Herbes de Provence, the cornerstone of just about any meal here, include basil, caraway, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, geranium, juniper and scallion, making every dish flavorful and exciting. During the spring, a lot of restaurants will update their menus for the upcoming months, offering dishes based on the fish, meat and produce that are most available at the time.
Bouillabaisse is Provence’s traditional fish stew, flavored with delicate herbs and spices. The dish had its start in Marseille, so you may want to head there to orders yours, specifically to the Old Port or La Canebière quarter. Pair it with a bottle of local white wine.
Common Dishes and Specialty Foods in Provence
Goat cheese is often accompanied by fig, and other must-try Provencal cheeses include hearty Banon and creamy Tomme. (You may want to take a cheese tour to get a true taste of the area’s fromages.) Pissaladière pizza is also a staple in Provence, with thicker dough than traditional Italian pizza and topped with anchovies, onions and olives.
In Marseille, fresher-than-fresh seafood is often paired with chilled pastis, which is an anise-flavored aperitif common in the South of France (and an ideal way to cool off on a warm day). Berries are another go-to treat during the summertime, and you’ll find them used in a number of desserts, like tarts and handmade ice cream, as well as jams.
Food Markets in Provence
Practically every town in Provence has its own market, and they’re most bountiful and colorful during the springtime, when you’ll find seasonal produce like white asparagus and purple artichokes, plus the first strawberries of the year and bright violets to decorate your table. The Carpentras market, a favorite amongst true French foodies, is located in the Mont Ventoux region (near the Alps) and is open on Fridays, while the Marseille fish market is perfect if you’re looking for the freshest catch of the day.
Consider hiring a private guide to take you on your first tour or two of the local market – you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the customs of these markets, which have been around for centuries.
Food Tours and Experiences in Provence
Truffle hunting is on every epicure’s bucket list, and Provence produces a majority of France’s truffles, with Mont Ventoux being the most fertile region. These earthy, flavorful mushrooms, the most highly-prized of which is the black truffle, are harvested from early November through January. There are plenty of options for a truffle tour in France, including this Truffle and Wine Tour from Your Private Provence, where you’ll hunt for and taste truffles, and also discover new wines, visit wineries and talk to wine growers about their craft. If you want a more customized food or wine tour, Exclusive France Tours designs bespoke experiences based on what you’re most interested in seeing.
Other opportunities include picking olives at an olive farm; watching a saffron producer extract the spice from the flower; and taking a Provencal cooking class, like this one that Patricia Wells hosts in her own 18th century farmhouse. And don’t miss the Christmas festivals and markets, where you’ll be able to try and buy holiday delicacies like chocolate nougat; candied and dried fruits; sugared almonds; and hot spiced wine.
Provence’s Regional Wines
Provence has been creating wines for more than 2,000 years, going back to when Marseille was founded by the Ancient Greeks in 600 BC. Their rosé is the most famed wine of the area, though the region is also known for having full-flavored reds. For a taste of some of Provence’s finest rosés, tour the Domaine Bertaud Belieu. Wine season in Provence begins in the fall, which is also the time when local markets will fill with tangerines, chestnuts, apples, grapes and hazelnuts (which sound like the perfect way to outfit your cheese board).
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