Food and eating in Provence

Provençal Mediterranean food and cooking

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Provençal food and the wines of Provence

Provençal food is classically Mediterranean; with most of the population living on the coastal strip, fish naturally play a big part in Provençal cuisine; but Provençal food is perhaps more famously reputed for its use of herbs and vegetables, notably aubergines, courgettes, bell peppers and tomatoes .

   The main herbs used in Provençal cooking are thyme, basil,  rosemary, oregano and fennel.
   However, if there is one item that characterises all types of Mediterranean food, it is the use of olive oil for cooking. Provençal cooking is no exception, and many of the finest Provençal dishes are based on Mediterranean vegetables and olive oil.

Popular Provençal dishes:

Among popular Provençal dishes, one can note:

Provence olives.
Olives have been grown in Provence for thousands of years. The most famous Provence olives are the fleshy black "Olives de Nyons", the  green Picholine olive, with a mild and nutty flavour, and the small "niçoise" olive that comes in a variety of colours.

Provence wines

Gigondas vineyard
Cotes du Rhône vineyard at Gigondas
Provence is the oldest wine producing area in France. The cultivation of the vine spread round the Mediterranean before the age of the Greeks and the Romans, and the first vines were grown in the area around Marseilles in the 6th century BC, if not earlier.
   Today Provence is famous for its red and rosé wines. Perhaps the most reputed of Provence's "appellation protégée" (previously appellation contrôlée) wines is Chateauneuf du Pape, from just outside Avignon.  A lot of the vineyards in the Rhone valley part of Provence are in the "Côtes du Rhône" designated area – which actually extends well beyond the limits of Provence. The region is also famous for its dry "Côtes de Provence" rosé wines, that are often served as an accompaniment to local dishes. Another well-known Provence wine is Bandol, produced in one of the oldest wine-growing areas of France; it is a distinctive dark red wine, which is very southern Mediterranean in flavour.
For more on French wines, see the French wine guide on

Provence sweets or candy
Les Calissons d'Aix: delicious slices of almond paste topped with a sugary covering.
Les fruits confits:  candied fruit, produced by traditional methods.

Photo top of page: in Provençal towns restaurants spill out into the narrow streets, shaded from the midday sun.

Map of Provence region
Provence region, covering the French Riviera, the Provence Alps, historic Provence and the area historically linked to Provence

A Gitelink guide
stuffed vegetables provençal
Stuffed courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes and peppers à la provençale

Dorades in Nice fish market

Red mullet on a Provençal market

Provence olives

Olives on sale in the market at Aix

Other useful resources
Provence online resources
Gites and villas in Provence
Regional tourist office
Driving in France
Bed and breakfast in France
Rural camping in the south of France

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