You can eat and drink well just about anywhere in France. But you can enjoy excellent dining throughout Provence in some of the most beautiful settings in the world.
From Arles to Saint-Tropez, via Marseille and Aix, Seafood, seasonal vegetables, 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 the land to delight your taste buds and create exceptional dishes that embody the Provençal identity.
When we think of Provence, we inevitably think about provençal cooking and olive oil. Olive trees have been grown in Vaucluse since ancient times and today they still shape the landscapes of the Luberon, Mont Ventoux and the Rhône valley.
In the Vaucluse, truffles are a genuine passion: at the foot of Mont-Ventoux, in the Luberon Mountains or the Popes’ Enclave, everyone awaits the end of November with bated breath to have some idea of the harvest, which lasts until March. The village of Aups is famous for its black truffle market, which takes place every Thursday morning from November to February. In January, the Truffle Festival is a gastronomic event not to be missed.
Camargue Rice & Salt
Among the best 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 reasserted 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.
The main Michelin restaurant guide for France is available from 9 February, and every year new restaurants in Provence earn their first Michelin-star no more so than in the Luberon where a cluster of nearby villages, including Ansouis, Bonnieux, Gordes and Lourmarin, are rich in stars, a testament to the quality of the produce of the region as well as the chefs who loving prepare the dishes.
One Michelin-star highlights include La Chassagnette, in Arles, Armand Arnal cooks the day’s harvest from the restaurant garden, and constantly reinvents his menu or La Petite Maison de Cucuron where you will be invited to taste new menus every week that are flavoured with traditional and Provençal accents. In a more sophisticated style, Dan B., in the Pays d’Aix, offers modern and creative gastronomy or if you rather enjoy southern dishes centred on seafood, beautiful pieces of meat and spices from around the world, head to L’Hostellerie Berard, in La Cadière d’Azur near Bandol.
Two Michelin-star highlights include La Bastide de Capelongue in Lourmarin or L’Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence where treasures from land and sea combine perfectly with vegetables and citrus fruit. In a chic contemporary setting in Arles, L’Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel invites you on a journey through fruits and vegetables or, if you enjoy fish, shellfish and seafood, seasoned with Provençal herbs and citrus and paired with a breath-taking view of the Mediterranean, make way to the Villa Madie in Cassis and don't forget to pair with some exceptional local wine.
There are also now three restaurants that have attained three Michelin-stars in Provence. One is the long-established Le Petit Nice in Marseille, where chef Gérald Passédat has created a cuisine that puts the spotlight on the city, as witnessed by his famous « Bouille Abaisse. ». In Saint-Tropez, in the setting of the très chic residence, La Pinède, young chef Arnaud Donckele is revolutionising Mediterranean cuisine at La Vague d’Or. Whereas a short walk from the famous Paul Ricard motor racing circuit, at the Hôtel et Spa du Castellet, Christophe Bacquié offers a fine and delicate cuisine that journeys between land and sea and infused with the sweet smell of Provence.
Whether it be extravagant cuisine or informal cuisine, Provence has a diversity of restaurants and bars to suit any palette. Do not forget that eating has strong cultural connotations and it is very important to take your time, often hours, to appreciate the gastronomical adventure. You will be delighted in your discovery of new products and new tastes.