Explore the region’s fine foodie offerings, for a taste of the Provençal life. From iconic wine regions to farm-to-table produce, Provence is a coveted destination for foodie travellers.
Provençal cuisine is a rich helping of vibrant colours and tastes, borne out of verdant farmland that offers rich pickings at local markets. Fresh ingredients are a staple of the region’s cooking, where some of Provence’s most famous exports, like Ratatouille, are a showcase of the quality of the produce. Try favourites like Bouillabaisse in its home of Marseilles, or Brandade de Nîmes in its namesake, and be sure to dip rustic offerings into healthy amounts of tapenade and aioli. Elusive truffles can also be found from November to March. The joy of Provençal cooking is its freshness, rich flavour, and glorious mix of Mediterranean and mountain produce.
From the rich tipples of Provence’s wine regions to the bountiful harvest of its lands, it is of no surprise that Provence is something of a foodie hotspot. A serious collection of Michelin-star restaurants and fine-dining establishments stretch from Nîmes to St Tropez, offering refined evenings filled with fine fare prepared by skilled hands. If you’ve come here for the truffles, Chez Bruno’s preparation is famous in the region. L’Oustalet is hidden in the hillside medieval village of Gigondas, itself set in a famed wine region. Rustic charms abound, exemplified in the superlative offerings of this charming restaurant. For a more cosmopolitan feel, Aix’s Les Lodges de la Sainte-Victoire offers a creative reinvention of southern classics, in the hands of chef Mathias Dandine. The terrace looks out over the distant mountains, a view that compliments the exquisite dining. Provence has no shortage of fine restaurants – discover your own favourite across the region.
The food markets of the region lie at the heart of Provençal life. They bustle with the hum of locals carefully selecting the day’s produce, haggling with the vendors and putting the world to rights. From the famous Sunday market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to the historic (since 1155!), award-winning Friday’s at Carpentras, Provence’s markets are a hive of activity, where tempting foodie treats await. You’ll find them in all the bigger towns and cities, where streets are lined with a colourful patchwork of fresh produce and freshly-made treats to keep the punters going as they shop – take Toulon, for example, where you can sample local oysters from the Bay of Lazaret and the Toulon speciality cade. It’s there where true tastes of the region are to be found plentiful and affordable.
Wine has played a key role in the region ever since the Ancient Greeks first settled here. As the Romans took control a few centuries later, the wine produced in Provence was already renowned across the Mediterranean for its quality. Hot summers and mild winters made for a climate perfect for growing vines, cementing the region’s famous export for generations to come. When the railway crossed the land so did the wines, winning acclaim across Europe that continues to this day. From famous reds to iconic rosés, reward your palette in Provence.
Famous Wine Regions
Across Provence you’ll find a host of celebrated wine regions packed with idyllic estates that produce some of the world’s finest bottles. The Côtes du Rhône is probably the best known, synonymous with celebrated wines including Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Côtes de Provence to the east is famous for its refreshing rosés, an intrinsic part of the Provençal lifestyle. The region also produces fine reds similar to Côtes du Rhône, though remains less well known. Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence produces a range of delicious wines, oft distinguishable by their higher concentration of cabernet sauvignon and organic vineyards in abundance. On the coast, Cassis and Bandol add to the extraordinary variety on offer. Tiny Cassis is famed for its dry whites, whereas Bandol is acclaimed for its deep reds.
Find your Tipple
With such fantastic variety at your doorstep, there’s just one thing for it: crack open a bottle and fill a glass. Your options are as varied as the wines. Whether you wish to pitch up at a local’s haunt in town, which is guaranteed to stock a fantastic variety of local wines, or you wish to explore the regions and buy at the source, Provence positively encourages either. For tastings at sun-drenched estates, the choice is seemingly endless – for classic charms try Villa Baulieu whose famed vineyard has flourished for over two-thousand years. For a more modern approach, Chateau la Coste offers exquisite pickings in grounds filled with contemporary art, whereas the newly opened Carré du Palais in the heart of Avignon provides passionate professionals who will guide you through traditional methods and help you to discover the very best of the Rhône Valley.