Provence is recognised for its olive oil, herbs, truffles, delicious fish and cheeses, plus the famous rice and salt of the Camargue. Here, producers blend the wonderful flavours of Provence with a savoir-faire and love of their land to delight your taste buds.
Tasty Olive Oil
And Herbs de Provence
Nicknamed the “gold of Provence” olive oil has been recognised at its fair value: oil from the Baux valley and its cousin from the Aix region are now protected by an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) label. To understand this ancestral know-how, head to the Domaine du Jasson, in La Londe Les Maures, or to the Moulin Castelas, in Les Baux-de-Provence. While you’re at it, pop over to the Ecomusée de l’Olivier (Eco-Museum of the Olive Tree) in Volx. Emblems of local gastronomy, Provence’s herbs are also the pride of the region. Provençal thyme, grown in fields by some 50 farmers or gathered in the wild, is now recognised by a IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée).
The “Black Diamonds” of Provence
The kingdom of the truffle, Provence is the top French producer of the “black diamond.” Robert Florent and his dog, Cannelle, will arrange a demonstration of “cavage” (harvesting) for you, followed by a tasting in La Bastide de Clovis, in Gordes. At La Ferme de Joël Gravier, in Pernes-les-Fontaines, Joel, Jean and Mireille welcome you like family to introduce you to the growing of truffle oaks and to share a “brouillade” (scrambled eggs) with truffles! Want to taste delicious dishes using this refined ingredient in an elegant retro setting? Book a table at Chez Bruno, in Lorgues.
Awarded a Label Rouge and an IGP, Sisteron lamb, bred in the Provençal Alps, is distinguished by its fine, sweet and succulent meat. To learn all about this local speciality and other regional delicacies, flip through “La Bonne Étape” cookbook – published by Brigitte Eveno. Passionate and inspiring, this work by chef Jany Gleize, connoisseur of Provençal cuisine and holder of a Michelin star, will show you the great power of local flavours.
Brousse du Rove and chèvre de Banon
Provence boasts two registered cheese specialities: Brousse du Rove and chèvre de Banon. The newest and smallest cheese AOP in France, Brousse, a roll of fresh farmsted goat cheese, is produced by less than ten producers on the mountain range between Marseille and Martigues. Recognisable by its fresh milk and almond flavours, it is eaten plain, as a dessert, or with orange blossom water or honey. Another goat cheese, chèvre de Banon, which takes its name from a small village in Haute Provence, is characterised by its soft texture and how it is hand-wrapped in a chestnut leaf. You can taste it at the Fromagerie de Banon.
Camargue Rice and Salt
Among the best fleur de sel in the world, Camargue salt, from the marshes and saltwater fields of Aigues-Mortes, will enhance any dish. Once displaced by wine-growing, rice cultivation in the Camargue, registered as an IGP, has re-asserted itself since the Second World War. Cultivated in the wilds by environmentally friendly farmers, it comes in several types: round for creamy desserts, semi long-grain for beautiful paellas and risottos, and long-grain for perfect salads to accompany meat and fish. To discover all the secrets of local Camargue cuisine, take a course with Roger Merlin at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Fish and Seafood
Treasures of the Med
All along the Provençal coastline, large and small fishing ports offer gourmet stops where fish, shellfish and crustaceans contribute to southern gastronomy’s success. In Marseille, the Vieux-Port fish market embodies this unwavering link between the sea and Provence. In addition to sardines, anchovies, sought after by the people of Provence, constitute the basic ingredient of the famous “anchoïade”, a cold dip mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper. The “poutargue” of Martigues, salted and dried mullet eggs, are also not to be missed. And to taste the purple Mediterranean sea urchin, visit towns along the Côte Bleue for their popular “oursinades”.