Such is the diversity of the landscape, the towns, and the people of Provence, it’s only fitting that the cuisine of the region embraces these cosmopolitan influences and provides something to please the taste buds of any visitor. Taking inspiration from Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain, and Greece, the cuisine is distinct from most French fare, yet embraces local produce in the preparation of meals, infusing food with seasoning and spices both from the immediate locality and around the continent.
Inevitably, seafood is abundant across Provence, with the coastal ports and harbours providing a fresh source of quality seafood daily. From grilled red mullet to scallops, the locally sourced fish and shellfish are best enjoyed in a seafront establishment on a lazy afternoon. One of the best-known seafood dishes available in Provence is the classic bouillabaisse of Marseilles; a rich broth of seafood and seasoning that is served with thick slices of fresh bread.
In addition to the exquisite seafood, there is a range of stewed dishes that provide a wholly satisfying meal, whatever the season. Daube is a renowned stew of braised beef in wine, seasoned with herbes de Provence, packed with local vegetables, and slowed cooked in a traditional daubiere – a terracotta pot that condenses the ingredients and tenderises the beef, making it succulent and flavoursome. The well known ratatouille has evolved from its Occitan origins in Nice to become an influential ingredient in dishes produced as far afield as Catalonia and Italy, with its stewed vegetable mix packed with locally grown produce and seasoning.
Winemaking in Provence is reputed to have its roots early in the region’s history, with the planting of vines starting an industry that continues to flourish to this day. Such is the renown of its estates and vineyards, Provence enjoys the prestige of having eight major wine regions with AOC designations, marking their products as worthy of such classification. With a number of influences and grape varieties having been introduced to the region, the wines available provide crisp and fruity refreshment, with the rosés being particularly notable in domestic and international markets. Spicy reds and sweet whites are also available, providing wine drinkers with a rich selection of flavours to discover.