More than two million people visit the beautiful French region of Provence every year. It is an area that is heaven for food lovers. The Mediterranean sea brings fresh fish and seafood in abundance and the rich soils provide fruits and vegetables that taste of the summer sunshine.
Provençal cooking is renowned for being full of flavor, highlighting the best of the natural ingredients. There are many dishes that you will only find showcased in the region, both rustic and refined. Ultimately Provençal cuisine is all about showcasing the best fresh produce that the area has to offer. For a foodie, you can easily spend a happy vacation exploring and enjoying some great food and fine wine in Provence.
A trip to the market
Provence has a plethora of incredible markets where you can buy everything that is fresh and seasonal, from figs and goat cheeses to beautiful local olives. You will also find dried herbs and spices that you can purchase in weight. You can easily spend a few hours at a market, sampling the bread that the French are so famous for and trying the pungent salamis, rich with pepper and garlic.
There is a wonderful market at Vaison la Romaine that is also tantalizingly close to the vineyards. Saint Remy de Provence is another chic market where you can also pick up plenty of fresh lavender and soaps. If you are inspired by your trip to the markets of Provence, then it is worth subscribing to a French-inspired monthly foodie box. You will find great cooking ideas and new recipes that are delivered straight to your door, allowing you to keep your love for all the food in Provence you’ve discovered alive.
Visit the olive groves
70% of the olive oil produced in France comes from the Provence region. They are regarded as the best in the country for growing the fruit. The olives are prized for their taste and there are many different types of oil made. Like a fine wine, the best olive oils are valued by foodies around the world. Whilst you are in Provence, it is worth going to visit one of the olive groves to see how the olives are grown and how the oils are produced. The olives are also prepared to simply be eaten, soaked in water and then rinsed before being stored in brine, often with garlic, rosemary, thyme and lemon. Try Moulin Castelas olive grove in Les Baux-de-Provence, they welcome visitors and offer tastings of their delicious oils.
Sample the seafood
The fish and seafood that is caught just off the coast of Provence is arguably some of the most delicious in the world. January and February is Sea Urchin season. Head to Sausset-le-Pins or Fos-sur-Mer to sample them fresh off the boat. In summer, the Provençal restaurants make the most of the mussels and sardines, cooked in a garlic and white wine sauce, accompanied by salty pommes-frites. One specialty of Provence are the mullet eggs that you will often find at markets, being dried in the sun. All year round Bouillabaisse is on the menu, a traditional fish soup served with garlic aioli – a must-try if you are staying in the region.
Provence prides itself on having the best and freshest ingredients. Even the simple cafes will serve you up delicious treats on a daily basis made from top-quality seasonal produce.