Champ de Tournesol et lavande en Provence

Provence

A heritage to discover

In the south-east of France, between the Alps and the Mediterranean, there is a region full of natural and cultural riches: Provence. With a Mediterranean climate, mild winters, hot and dry summers, and almost 300 days of sunshine per year, its living environment is optimal.

What is Provence?

It is a geographical area with an exceptional vernacular heritage. Alterning countryside landscapes and coastline of the Grande Bleue, its territory is extremely diverse. Historically, it takes its name from the Roman period when it was part of a province of ancient Rome: Narbonnaise.  Today, Provence is one of the most visited regions of France: it attracts thanks to its cities (Marseille, Aix en Provence, Arles, Avignon…), its natural sites (creeks of Marseille, islands of Porquerolles, Camargue, Alpilles, ochres of Rustrel, lavender fields…) or thanks to its monuments resulting from a historical and cultural inheritance (quarry of images of Baux de Provence, village of bories in Gordes, Cistercian abbeys of Sénanque, Silvacane and Tholonet…).

Provence hides its mysteries behind their obviousness.

Jean Giono

Beautiful treasures of Provence

The scents of aromatic herbs from the Provençal hills, the colors of the small typical villages in the four corners of the region, the frenzied games of pétanque, the song of the cicadas in summer, the taste of the tapenade produced by the local craftsman…All this shows how much Provence awakens the senses. Provence is above all an art of living where everyone feels a certain pride in conveying their Provençal roots.

Through the Félibrige, Frédéric Mistral, to name but one, codified the Provençal language and created the first franco-provençal dictionary: Tresor dóu Felibrige.  Famous artists have contributed to its fame: Marcel Pagnol, Jean Giono, Edmond Rostand, Fernandel, Raimu, Charpin, Henri Alibert, Gilbert Bécaud, Paul Cézanne, César Baldacchini, Pierre Puget, Henri Espérandieu…

Provence keeps alive ancestral traditions such as the Christmas festival with its nativity scene and its santons, the Carnival festival during which the puppet “Caramentran”, guilty of multiple evils, is burned on a pyre.

The Provençal people are also one of its richnesses: they are very attached to their region and especially enjoy good food. From the hills to the coastline, Provençal cuisine seduces with its many flavours: in summer, the colourful and fragrant markets represent a real horn of abundance and are very popular. This local cuisine, mixing many vegetables and fruit vitamins, meat and fish, olive oil and aromas, is healthy and tasty. This article would be incomplete if we had not been interested in it.

Gastronomy in Provence

The gastronomic specialities are numerous, apart from the traditional Bouillabaisse and Soupe au Pistou, or aïoli, we will draw up the most objective and exhaustive list possible.

  • Provencal aperitifs, dishes and desserts

    La fougasse : Provencal bread that is close to the Italian focaccia. They can be made in many different ways: with olives, anchovies, dried tomatoes, Provencal herbs, etc.

    La pissaladière : a variant of pizza covered with onion compote and topped with anchovies. A speciality of Nice that can be found throughout Provence.

    La tapenade : a mixture of olives, capers and anchovy filets crushed in a mortar, with herbs from Provence and garlic added. In the green tapenade, the capers are replaced by pine nuts and almonds.

    La caillette : speciality of the Dôme Provençale, mixture of lean pork meat with spinach and chard, all covered with strainer.

    Les petits farcis : vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, aubergines, onions…) hollowed out and stuffed with meat or sausage meat, breadcrumbs and the famous Provencal herbs.

    La ratatouille :  a stew of various vegetables (tomatoes, onions, zucchini, peppers) that must be sauteed in garlic and olive oil.

    Le tian provençal : baked vegetables gratin

    Les tomates à la Provençale : Tomatoes cut in half and covered with parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs.

    La panisse : made from chickpea flour, it can be found in the form of a sausage to be cut up in food shops, but in the Estaque district, it is sold in the form of 2cm thick slices, already cut up and fried. Often sold by the dozen, sprinkled with ‘fleur de sel’ and pepper, they are eaten standing up or on the terraces of the Estaque cafés, in a paper cone. 

    Olive oil: inseparable from Provençal cuisine and more broadly, Mediterranean, the AOC Olive Oil of Provence perpetuates its extraction and marketing. Healthy and tasty, it is recommended in many diets. Numerous oil mills in the region allow the Provençal people to make their own oil. The olive tree is representative of Provence.

    Les alouettes sans tête : Headless larks are beef roulades stuffed with garlic, salt pork and parsley which are cooked in a tomato sauce containing mushrooms and wine.

    La gardiane : A dish from the Camargue made from bull meat cooked in red wine. This dish is often eaten with Camargue rice.

    Les pieds et paquets : “Feet and packets” are an essential tripe recipe from our region, which always come in the form of bundles of tripe and sheep’s feet, was born in the Pomme district of Marseille.

    L’aïoli : Aïoli is a garlic sauce prepared with a mortar and pestle, using only garlic emulsion and olive oil.

    La poutargue de Martigues : A luxury product made from muggy eggs (fish). It can be eaten grated on spaghetti.

    La sardinade : sardines placed on a grill and covered with herbs from Provence, thymes and a drizzle of olive oil.

    L’oursinade : sea urchin tasting or sea urchin coral sauce.

    L’anchoïade : a sauce made with anchovies, black olives, garlic and olive oil.

    Les chichis-fregis : It is in the 3 chichis bars of l’Estaque (13016) that you must taste this little non-dietary pleasure that is often confused with Churros. Never tell an Estaquéen that the Chichi Frégi is nothing but a Churros! The Churros is twisted, thin and short, rather the Chichi is thick, puffy and about 20 cm long.

    Le gâteau des rois : Unlike in the North of France, in Provence, for the Epiphany we eat a brioche with orange blossom covered with candied fruits. The tradition is that we allocate the pieces of the cake according to the will of the youngest person under the table. In the brioche there is a bean and a porcelain subject.

    Le gibassié : This is a kind of oil pump that is a little crunchier.

    Les navettes : These are dry cookies traditionally prepared for Candlemas instead of pancakes, especially in Marseille. It is made of wheat flour, sugar, eggs and orange blossom water.

    La pompe à huile : fougasse made with bread dough, olive oil, sugar and egg. It is usually eaten at Christmas: it is one of the 13 desserts.

    Les calissons : melon and almond confectionary, a speciality of Aix en Provence.

    Les fruits confits : candied fruit is a confectionery that consists of replacing the water in the fruit with sugar. Speciality of d’Apt.

    Le nougat : speciality made from beaten white eggs, lavender honey and almonds. Many towns in Provence produce it.

Cheeses

Here the grass is not fat enough to graze cows and sheep! But goats, on the other hand, are very present, and their milk is used  to make delicious cheeses, mild or strong in taste, gladly topped with herbs. A delightful way to end the meal!

– Le Banon (AOC)
– La Brousse du Rove (AOC)
– Le Picodon (AOC et AOP)
– La Tomme de Provence
– La Cachaille

Wines

All the wines are presented in white, rosé and red. Provence, thanks to its exceptional climate, is a land rich in viticulture. Many wines are  AOC (controlled designation of origin) and AOP (protected designation of origin). Some of these wines are offered at large gourmet tables, and organic farming is developing here too. Oenologists, sommeliers and guide-interpreters will help you appreciate them, at the table, in a tasting workshop or during discovery tours on the wine routes.

Nos suggestions
Place Bargemon à Marseille, vue sur le Vieux-Port et Notre Dame de la Garde
Finding accommodations in Marseille
Friche Belle de Mai Marseille, salle de restaurant
Restaurants in Marseille
3 cyclistes au parc du Pharo
All activity providers