FOOD AND DRINK EXPERIENCES IN PROVENCE

France is known for attaching great emphasis on their national cuisine, with food experiences in Provence a great starting point for any self-confessed foodie. After all, the French are just as passionate about their traditional recipes as they are modern fine dining.

The majority of French chefs and talented home cooks tend to avoid shopping at busy supermarkets. Instead, they will visit the independent delicatessens, purchase meat from the butchers and bread from their local baker.

Likewise, as a market tour in Provence will showcase, there is an incredible array of fresh produce available in the South East of France. Especially given the likes of busy fishing ports such as Marseille or within the quiet village of Cassis.

In fact, food and drink experiences in Provence go far beyond the family mealtime – it’s very much a way of life. One whereby gastronomic French Haute Cuisine will equally sit alongside a wine tour in Provence, meeting the talented sommeliers. Providing a combination of fantastic Provencal food, while sampling some of the best wines in the world.

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Food and Drink Experiences in Provence

True Provençal cuisine is exuberant but modest and focusses on conserving the taste and quality of seasonal ingredients. These include the basics of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, saffron, anchovies, olives and a wide variety of herbs.

As for the simple statement of “French food”, this tends to conjure up images of Quiche Lorraine, French onion soup, Coq au vin or Boeuf Bourguignon. However, authentic French cuisine will often originate from a specific region, opening your palette to a variety of alternative dishes.

As an example, seafood is extremely popular in Provence, where you’re likely to find some of the highest quality “Moule et Frites” in France. However, elsewhere on the menu alongside the French classics are those more regional delights.

Therefore, we’d recommend going for an authentic bowl of “Bouillabaisse”. The Provencal favourite being an intriguing complexity of flavours. Traditionally made using scorpionfish from the shores of Marseille as its main source of protein.

Although if you’re after something quick for lunch, you’ll probably see Quiche Lorraine in almost every patisserie in France! As well as a buttery croissant with breakfast or a portion of French fries to keep you going during a walking street food tour.

Here at tabl. we offer guests a variety of food experiences in Provence, along with wine tours, cooking classes and much more. 

Food and Drink in Provence

The region of Provence includes the French Riviera in the South-East corner of France. Where the beautiful landscapes of the Massif des Calanques meet the vibrant and exciting cities of Avignon and Marseille. As for authentic Provençal cuisine, the cookery techniques often consist of powerful flavours, yet produced with simple, fresh ingredients.

The Mediterranean climate of Provence influences rich cuisine, offering a variety of quality products. Where there is an abundance of vegetables and mixed herbs available, along with freshly caught seafood. As you travel through Provence, you will find many dishes will feature olives and olive oil. In particular when it comes to seafood specialities such as sea urchins and sardines.

It’s a cuisine that can be both unique and comforting. One in which often being reinvented by a new generation of gastronomical chefs. As such, foodies from all over the world continue to return year after year, trying out new food and drink experiences in Provence.

Just like their food, the French are also very passionate about their drinks.

Although, despite wine tours in Provence being extremely popular, it’s not always about the famous wine regions. In fact, if you take a look in your cupboard, the chances are most liqueurs are indeed French imports.

Alongside wine tours in Provence and the hills of the Chianti vineyards, the south of France is a chance to discover stronger drinks such as Chartreuse or Benedictine. In fact, the French are quite versatile when it comes to providing drink experiences in Provence. Whether it be designing a new trendy cocktail or opening an old bottle of liqueur after dinner.

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Drink Experiences in Provence

If you are looking for an alternative to food and drink experiences in Provence based around wine tasting, then a night out at any local bar will feature an extensive drinks menu. As such, here is a list of some of the alternatives to wine that have originated from our French friends:

Absinthe

This gorgeous aniseed tasting liquor came originally from Switzerland. However, the French started producing it in the 19th century, and the French took to it with gusto, with a projected 35 million litres consumed in France each year. Fans of Abinsthe included the famous Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso.

Pastis

Another aniseed characterised aperitif that is served with a dash of water or neat, over ice. It’s a drink fairly similar to other Mediterranean favourites, such as Ouzo and Sambuca.

Benedictine

Benedictine is actually a herbal, yet alcoholic drink. One in which legend states it was originally made by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey in Normandy, back in the 16th century.  Traditionally, it contains a secret concoction of twenty-seven plants, served after a large dinner to help digestion. It is also whispered to have medicinal credentials, although be warned it is very strong!

Chartreuse

While Benedictine started out as a legend, Chartreuse was definitely made by monks in the 18th century. Chartreuse continues to be produced in French monasteries to this day. The green liqueur, is an acquired taste, containing as many as 130 herbs and flowers.

Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier is popular all around the world. An orange flavoured cognac which can be served straight, on the rocks and sometimes in a fancy cocktail. However, traditionally it is normally served as a dessert accompaniment.

Kir

Kir’s main ingredient is white wine (crème de cassis). Alternatively, other variations include a peach liqueur or sometimes champagne, whereby it would be named “Kir Royal”.

Calvados

This is certainly not one for the faint-hearted, due to its particularly high alcohol content. Calvados is an apple brandy, made largely in the Normandy region rather than the south of Provence. Traditionally, Calvados is extracted from cider made from home-grown apples.

Chambord

Chambord is well-known for its often intricately designed bottle. The liquor has been around since 1685 and is made up of raspberries, blackberries and vanilla that have been soaked in cognac. It is also the starting base for the famous “Sex on the Beach” cocktail.

Food and drink experiences in Provence are a great way to try out tasting something different. Although, that’s not forgetting we also have a number of popular wine tours in Provence available too. Which can also be booked online, before you set off on your travels to France.

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Popular Food Experiences in Province

Along the South Coast of France, you will find a variety of food and drink experiences in Provence. Including authentic cuisine at fine dining restaurants and a chance to discover where the locals eat during a food walking tour.

There are plenty of food tours in Provence designed to help you understand the local way of life and daily traditions. With the help of a local tour guide, you’ll not only learn all there is to know about Provencal cuisine, but the best places to eat it.

Nearly every town in Provence has its own colourful market, where you’ll find fresh seasonal produce such as white asparagus and purple artichokes. If you happen to be visiting the Mont Ventoux region, near the Alps, try the Carpentras market. It’s a thriving marketplace, open every Friday and a firm family favourite among the locals.

Alternatively, how about hiring a specialist foodie to take you on a tour of a local food market? This way, you will gain a much better understanding of the customs of the market. As well as discovering all about its produce and the history of the surrounding area.

Food and drink experiences in Province are all about giving yourself a few hours to immerse in a warm and friendly atmosphere.  Not only that but with a food market tour, you will be able to taste fresh produce. During which you also find out how to choose fruit and vegetables according to what’s in season. Expert tour guides will often be more than happy to share authentic recipes, so you know exactly what you need to buy.

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Private Dining Experience in a Lavender Field

Are you visiting France for a special occasion? Then food and drink experiences in Provence can be a wonderful way to celebrate. As a fantastic and romantic foodie experience to put on your bucket list, is the chance to have a private dinner surrounded by fields of lavender.

It’s not only one for the photo album, but with tabl. you can dine in style with a renowned chef. This unique way of dining can be arranged through tabl. by booking online here.

Other food opportunities include Provençal cooking classes that offer a fun, family-friendly experience. While at the same time helping you to master traditional French cooking. Exploring the food culture with an experienced French chef is a great way to develop an appreciative palate. An absolute love of food and a desire to share the French culture with others is all you need!

Why not gain your own apron and chefs’ hat as you check into a cooking workshop in Avignon with tabl. Learning the secrets behind cooking authentic, local Provencal cuisine.

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Traditional French Food in Provence

Traditional French food can often vary from those local specialities in Provence. So, whether it’s Bouillabaisse from Marseille or the local take on a Boeuf Bourguignon, here are some regional dishes you really must try:

      • Bouillabaisse. The famous dish mentioned earlier in this blog. Made with a variety of fish from the Mediterranean that includes tomatoes and herbs.
      • Pan Bagnat. A healthy French fast food, mainly eaten can you believe? When playing a game of boules or pétanque.
      • Pissaladiêre. This is a dish quite like a pizza and covered with various toppings such as onions, anchovies, garlic and black olives.
      • Ratatouille. A well-known Mediterranean dish of mixed vegetables like aubergines, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
      • Salade Niçoise. A tasty wonderful salad made with local ingredients, which might contain tuna and black olives.

Selection of French food from other regions:

        • Baeckeoffe. This is a tasty meal consisting of potatoes, onions, mutton, beef, pork and Alsatian white wine and juniper berries
        • Choucroute garnie. White cabbage cooked slowly in wine or sometimes vinegar and eaten with sausages, pork and potatoes.
        • Bœuf Bourguignon. Gorgeous mouth-watering casserole of beef cooked in a good red wine from the region.
        • Coq au vin. We all love this simple but delicious dish – chicken braised in red wine with lardons and mushrooms.
        • Escargots de Bourgogne. A very famous dish of tiny French snails cooked in their shells and served with parsley butter.
        • Buckwheat Pancakes. The pancakes are also known as ‘galettes’ and filled with anything from meats, cheese or vegetables.
        • Crêpes. Gorgeous little pancakes that are filled with anything sweet, or can be savoury-filled with cheese and ham.
        • Poulet à la Bretonne. Chicken cooked slowly in Brittany cider with bacon and beans.
        • Bourride. Whitefish that is stewed in wine with vegetables added.
        • Encornets Farcis. Cuttlefish that is stuffed full with sausage meat and various herbs.
        • Macarons de Nancy. In essence, a sweet, scrumptious macaroon.
        • Quiche Lorraine. The aforementioned and very famous tart.
        • Rum Baba. This is a small yeast cake that is literally saturated with sweet rum and filled with whipped cream.
        • Moules-Frites. Simply a standard across France, a pot of mussels served with French fries.
        • Raclette. Gorgeous dish of melted cheese usually served with sliced potatoes, gherkins or pickles and ham.
        • Gratin Dauphinois. We all love this dish served with a meal – oven-baked sliced potatoes and cream or creme fraiche.
        • Foie Gras. A special French delicacy that is made from the liver of a goose or duck which has especially fattened up to produce this well-known classic.

Food and Drink Experiences Provence

Popular Restaurants in Provence, France

Defining what makes for a particularly good restaurant in Provence is somewhat like selecting your favourite film or ideal holiday. In that ultimately, it comes down to the individual and personal choice. As while a traditional foodie may be looking for an authentic local restaurant, others may be searching for those that are completely re-inventing the classics.

However, there’s one thing for certain and that’s restaurants in Provence are widely recognised as among some of the best in the world. In fact, with the South of France considered to be the heart of French cuisine, it is here where the prestigious Michelin Star originated.

As such, we take a look at just 5 of the most popular restaurants in Provence. Where you can book a table at one of the world’s leading locations for French Haute Cuisine.

Le Louis XV at the Hôtel de Paris, Monaco

Monaco is famous for its chic Grand Prix and the lifestyles of the rich and famous. It is also one of the best places to enjoy authentic French fine dining restaurants. The Le Louis XV restaurant is run by the famous French chef Alain Ducasse. Who became the first chef ever to accomplish restaurants carrying three Michelin Stars. The restaurant itself presents exceptionally presented dishes all served in luxurious neo-Baroque surroundings.

Auberge du Vieux Puit, Fontjoncouse

This is a superb 2 Michelin-starred restaurant slightly away from the touristy areas. Snuggled in a small village within the Corbières Hills, head chef Gilles Goujon devises creative and innovative dishes. Our recommendation would be to try a tasting menu, which start from €98 per person.

Mirazur Restaurant, Menton

This restaurant on the French Riviera is widely regarded as one of the very best restaurants in Provence. It certainly has amazing views, as you look out over the beautiful bay. The Mirazur boasts two Michelin stars which have been duly earned by the Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco. The menu features his own take on fashionable and traditional Italian dishes.

L’Atelier de Jean Luc Rabanel, Arles

This restaurant presents a culinary food experience that’s constantly evolving! Jean – Luc Rabanel devises healthy dishes that use fresh and flavoursome produce. The single menu has thirteen tapas dishes in the evening and seven at lunchtimes – all brimming with vibrant flavours. Ideal for any health-conscious foodie, looking for exciting food and drink experiences in Provence.

Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers Sainte Marie

Another of Alain Ducasse’s world-famous restaurants in Provence. It may be small and easy to miss, but it still comes with an enormous reputation. Although, please ensure that you book well in advance as there is often a waiting list for tables. As for pre-reading the menu – it is dictated solely by the seasons and as such, changing all the time.

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Food Festivals in Provence

Surprisingly annual food festivals in the South of France are somewhat hard to come by, despite the French cuisine being popular around the world. Instead, we’d recommend booking food and drink experiences in Provence that follow the daily life of the locals. After all, you can find regular food markets in both the major cities and smaller villages.

However, if you are still on the lookout for food festivals in Provence, here a few ideas to tantalise your taste buds.

Marseille Provence Gastronomie

Following an investment of almost 5 million euros, Marseille and the surrounding areas have benefited from a year of food events. These officially started in 2019 and continued throughout 2020. Making way for everything from pop-up street food stalls to a Michelin-starred cooking class in Le Vieux-Port.

Truffle Fairs in Provence

Food and drink experiences in Provence don’t come much more indulgent than treating yourself to the taste of truffle. In fact, there are a number of truffle festivals within Provence throughout the year. Although, ideally you should look for those in the winter months, as this is when they tend to be in season.

As a contrast of events, we’d suggest both Ban des Truffes in Richerenches and Avignon’s annual Truffle Fair. Richerenches is but a small commune of around 600 residents, but keen truffle hunters flock to the village in December. Meanwhile, Avignon is likely to be more accessible if you’re simply on holiday in Provence looking for something different.

Festival of New Oil

While wine tours will remain one of the most popular food and drink experiences in Provence, they can often be combined with trips to the nearby olive vines. Again, the winter is harvest season, so ideal for those visiting between the end of November and late January.

Although not necessarily a regular food festival in Provence as such, farms will often open up their vines at the turn of the year. Especially when they’ve prepared a new blend of olive oil they wish to promote, hence creating the “festival of new oil”.

Les Halles: Avignon’s Gourmet Food Market

Foodies will be in their element at the Les Halles Gourmet Food Market. At what was once known for creating an occasional festival atmosphere, the indoor food market has since become a staple on any shopping trip.

Here there is an abundance of choices all under one roof. While it may get busy, late morning on a Saturday is the best time to follow the local chefs around. As they tend to shop just prior to preparing for lunch service.

Food and Drink Experiences in Provence

Here at tabl. we have food and drink experiences in Provence for every occasion. With scenic wine tours, authentic food experiences, cookery classes with local cooks and much more. As such, giving you a chance to experience real food with real people.

Book your food and drink experiences in Provence today and enjoy the very best in Provencal cuisine.