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Provence’s best food & drink

  • Provence, France

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 20 March, 2024

Provence’s ‘cuisine of the sun’ is based on olive oil, along with plenty of garlic, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Olives notably give its cuisine its special twist: by themselves or mashed into a tapenade. Anchovies, truffles, basil and pine nuts add pizzazz.

Vegetables often hold centre stage, stuffed or artfully sliced and baked in a tian but you’ll find seafood from Marseille and lamb from Mont Ventoux.

What to try

Bouillabaisse started as a humble fisherman’s soup but is now so important it has its own charter of ingredients: restaurants that follow the rules will have one on the walls.

Other classics include Provencal lamb with garlic, and spicy beef stews such as daube or gardiane de taureau. Try fougasse is like Italian focaccia, but stuffed with olives or onions and lardons.

Accompany your meal with Chateauneuf-du-Pape or an excellent rose from the Rhone valley. The favourite aperitif is anise-flavoured pastis, invented here in the 1930s and now an essential part of Provencal life.

The dining scene

Marseille is the place to go for an edgy food scene and ambitious new bistronomique restaurants – not to mention the old favourites where you go for a bouillabaisse around the Vieux Port.

The markets in Provence are the best place to whet your appetite for the cuisine du soleil, filled with colours and perfumes of the local produce – the melons of Cavaillon in summer, the truffles from the Vaucluse in winter.

Head to a wine bar to taste the local wines – Gigondas, Chateauneuf du Pape, Vacqueyras and Beaumes-de-Venise – with platters of charcuterie and cheeses.

 

Who to go with: tour operators

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Chocolate-making at the Puyricard Chocolaterie

  • Puyricard, Provence, France

Chocolate-making at the Puyricard Chocolaterie

Experience

Visit the most famous chocolate factory in Provence, just outside Aix in Puyricard, where you can go behind the scenes in their atelier or spend an afternoon at a hands-on chocolate-making workshop.

Adult price: 8

Min age 6

Good for age: 8+

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Les Compagnons

  • Avignon, Provence, France

View of an outdoor festival with lots of seated people drinking wine, with white stall tents behind

Experience

‘Les Compagnons’, an association of Cotes du Rhone winemakers, hold this harvest festival on a Saturday late in August at the Rocher des Doms in Avignon; there’s a parade, games and plenty of food and wine.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 1 day

When: Late August

Freq: annually

Olive oil tasting at Moulin Castelas

  • Les Baux-de-Provence, Provence, France

Olive oil tasting at Moulin Castelas

Experience

In the stunning setting of Les Baux, learn all about Provence’s greeny-golden nectar on these free tastings of these award-winning oils. Open all year-round, but short walks through the olive groves and visits to the mill are also offered from June to September.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2 hours

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Place Richelme Food Market

  • Aix-en-Provence, Provence, France

pretty town square with market stalls selling food

Experience

Each morning, Aix hosts one of Provence’s best markets, overflowing with the freshest fruit, vegetables, herbs, meats, seafood and cheeses from local producers. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, it expands tenfold and includes a massive flower market.

Good for age: 18+

  • Provence, France

  • Bucket List Experience

Postcard-perfect vineyards yielding world-famous wines – Provence is the home of the most prestigious Cotes du Rhone wines, including the reds of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Beaumes-de-Venise.

Good for age: 18+

Truffle hunting at Les Pastras

  • Cadenet, Provence, France

Close up of a labrador dog digging in the ground for truffles as people watch

Experience

Organic farm in the Luberon run by a French-American couple who offer summer and winter truffle hunts, and the chance to stomp on grapes the old-fashioned way during the harvest.

Adult price: 60

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 3+ hours

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Wine harvest at Les Pastras [grape stomping]

  • Cadenet, Provence, France

Wine harvest at Les Pastras [grape stomping]

Experience

An organic farm in the Luberon run by a French-American couple that offers the chance to experience a traditional French wine harvest, including a tour of the farm, lessons in cultivation, and the chance to stomp on the grapes. Weekdays only.

Adult price: 50

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 3 hours

When: Mid-Aug to Mid-Oct

Freq: annually

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

Many of the best restaurants are located in smart hotels or in fairly exclusive areas: Les Baux and the Alpilles, St-Remy, Aix, Avignon, and the villages of the Luberon.

See the Michelin guide for the region, which comes in handy for making the essential bookings in advance.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

The prestige course at Maison Brotte

  • Avignon

Maison Brotte shares its winegrowing know-how through a unique educational path, revealing all the secrets of wine making, the specificities of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Rhône Valley. On 500 m² of museum, you will be immersed in a memorable, warm and contemporary atmosphere, and follow in the footsteps of the winegrower.

Price €12

Min age 18

Rating 4.86 / 5 [131 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Aix-en-Provence Food Tour - Do Eat Better Experience

  • Aix-en-Provence

Our Aix-en-Provence food tour is a walking tour around the historical center. The tourist is guided by a "Foodie", a local "buddy" able to explain every detail of the selected restaurants, their preparations, and the relevant history/curiosities. Our tours are a mix of high-quality gastronomy as a way of showing French culture and lifestyle and a walking experience together with a local friend. This is the reason why we accept small groups only. We want to focus on a genuine exchange and give to each tourist the highest attention possible.

Price €95

Min age 0

Rating 4.81 / 5 [100 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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The discovery trail at Maison Brotte

  • Avignon

Come and discover a family estate in the heart of the famous wine appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Brotte family has been passing down know-how since 1931 and today, be part of the adventure by coming to discover their secrets. A tasting of 3 wines awaits you, as well as a visit to the Brotte Wine Museum! Museum created in 1972 by Jeanne Brotte, grandmother of the current owner. This Museum is unique in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, it will teach you everything you need to know about vines and wine, and the history of the Brotte family!

Price €8

Min age 18

Rating 4.81 / 5 [70 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Cooking workshop with an exceptional chef in Avignon

  • Avignon

Cooking classes start at 9 a.m. with an appointment at the Cuisine Centr'Halles located inside the Les Halles d'Avignon market. We start with a visit to the Market to talk about local products, taste and especially create our menu together. We'll choose our ingredients and craft our menu, then head back to the kitchen for our class and cook our lunch. Lunch is included and consists of the menu we have prepared, water, wine and coffee. The full event ends at 1:30 p.m. Cooking demonstrations are a fun and light alternative to cooking classes. These begin at 9 a.m. with a meeting inside the market at the Cuisine Centr'Halles. We start with a market visit and tastings at some of my favorite vendors. We then return to the kitchen to prepare my tapenade recipes and some other daily preparations.

Price €190

Min age 8

Rating 4.53 / 5 [64 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Half day: Wine-Tour in Provence

  • Aix-en-Provence

Sainte-Victoire circuit: Leave Aix-en-Provence aboard a vintage sidecar to discover the Sainte-Victoire mountain which inspired Paul Cézanne so much. Go through the Bimont dam and discover the Provençal villages of Vauvenargues and Puyloubier. You will go to the vineyards of Sainte-Victoire to meet the winegrowers, tour the vines and olive groves, visit authentic estates. Or Rognes circuit: Through the roads of Provence, you can enjoy a setting of vineyards, cypresses, olive trees and oaks... but not only! Indeed you will ride on an old collapsed volcano, which due to its flat surface does not allow you to be seen. You will then be able to observe in this volcanic territory the remains of the volcano and the eruption. Visit your choice: A wine estate and its contemporary art centre, a brewery or another wine estate. If the time is right, you can admire the lavender fields. *Picnic on the estate as an option

Price €481

Min age 0

Rating 5 / 5 [13 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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