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Provence: A Foodies Paradise

Farmers Market in Aix en Provence
Farmers Market with Fresh Vegetables in Aix en Provence
Whether you are a confirmed foodie or just interested in enjoying the local flavors be sure to include some of the exciting food related activities in your visit to Provence.  Not only are there many delicious foods to try but also a host of food tours, cooking classes and fresh produce markets. Your mouth will be watering from the moment you step foot in this magical corner of France.

The South of France has a distinct gastronomy from the rest of the country due to its mild climate, rich soil and easy access to the treasures of the nearby sea. Provence cuisine has also been influenced by its foreign neighbors around the Mediterranean. The region's cuisine uses luxurious amounts of olive oil, fresh vegetables (especially eggplant), seafood and aromatic herbs like basil, rosemary and thyme.

Must-try Foods in Provence

Bouillabaisse is a traditional soup or stew with at least three types of fish and seafood. Marseilles Bouillabaisse is served as a broth with the sautéed fish and bread smothered in fish-flavored Provencial sauce. Salade Nicoise is best tried in Nice and in Menton try their famous lemon dishes. Aioli is a sauce known around the world but it originates in Provence. The garlic mayonnaise is served with boiled vegetables, fish or eggs. Another great addition to your meal is tapenade, an olive dip mix of chopped olives, garlic, anchovies, capers and olive oil. Soupe au Pistou is a light vegetable and bean soup made with the French version of pesto. Daube is a comforting winter beef stew braised in red wine and rich with garlic and herbs. If you're near Carpentras from November to March try the mouth watering truffles in an omlette aux truffles. Ratatouille comes from Provence and the rich vegetable stew is usually served with plenty of bread to mop up the juices. Caviar D'aubergine is a condiment made from eggplant, garlic and spices and served as a dip or spread on bread.

If you have a sweet tooth try the delicious nougat and the egg-free nougat noir. Les fruits confits are candied fruits produced in Provence according to traditional recipes. In Aix-en-Provence you'll love the Calissons d'Aix cookies covered with almond paste, candied fruit and white icing. Provence is known for its delicious red and  rosé wine and you could base your whole vacation around the many winery tours. One of the top Provence wines not to miss is Chateauneuf du Pape which is produced near Avignon. Bandol is a well known dark red Provence wine. Be sure to also try Provence's aniseed-flavored liqueur Pastis.

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Provence

Provence has many cooking classes so this is just a taste of what awaits you. Patrica Well's Cooking Classes in Vaison-la-Romaine are run by a celebrated food critic and classes are conducted in her farmhouse. The Taste of Nice Food Tours and The French Way – Food Tours of Nice both rank highly on Trip Advisor's list of things to do in Provence. The walking tours will introduce you to the local flavors and there is an option of an olive oil tasting tour. Another olive oil related activity is a tour of Le Mas de La Tapi in Moures near the Baux de Provence. You will be taken on a walk through the olive groves and taught about how the oil is produced and the correct way to taste it.  You can also see inside an olive farm at CastelaS in Les Baux de Provence and Domaine Stalenq Huile D'Olive in Seillans. Here you can see the mill and taste award winning oils. Also high on the list is a private tour with Provence Cuisine through Aix en Provence which includes a visit to the local food market. Provence Gourmet is a company offering a shopping trip to the market, then a cooking class preparing traditional dishes and finally a delicious lunch. Aix en Provence offers multiple cooking classes many in quaint country farmhouses. Among the best known are La Villa des Chefs, Atelier Culinarion – Stages de cuisine and L'atelier cuisine de Mathilde cooking courses in French and English.

Where to Stay in Provence?

What better way to complete your foodie experience in Provence than by bringing your finds at the market back to your own kitchen in one of France Homestyle's vacation rental homes or apartments to prepare a truly Provence culinary experience.  Using one of our rentals as your home base in Provence, you can explore the hidden jewels of restaurants, cooking classes from local experts, or tours of the many wineries, orchards or markets in the area.  Goult Villa is an enchanting property dating back to the 16th Century located in the Luberon Valley complete with central courtyard, natural stone pool, gardens and gourmet kitchen.  In Aix Area of Provence, La Maison du Bonheur is a property that provides the ideal combination of country living with close proximity to village life. Recenly renovated, the Provençal-style kitchen opens directly onto the patio for dining al fresco next to garden, shade trees and a large fenced swimming pool.  And if you aren't in the mood for doing your own cooking you are within walking distance of Puyricard a small town outside of Aix-en-Provence where you will find several restaurants and three boulangerie-pâtisseries.