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Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Lavendel - lavande - lavender

…and south of Valence, Provincia Romana, the Roman Provence, lies beneath the sun. There there is no more any evil, for there the apple will not flourish and the Brussel sprout will not grow at all. Ford Madox Ford

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (or PACA) has six départements (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse); Marseille and Nice, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, the great delta lands of the Camargue, Saint-Tropez, Cannes and the Riviera are here, but also the sparsely populated Maritime Alpes.

Its sunny climate means seafood, herbs, fruit and vegetables are often within plucking distance of the kitchen. Their quality demands minimal preparation – Provençal cooking is perhaps the least fussy in France. Much of it neatly fits the modern definition of a healthy Mediterranean diet: expect only a little meat but plenty of olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil and other fresh herbs, and goat cheeses. Nice’s specialities reflect its roots— it was known as Nizza and part of Italy until 1860.

For many people garlicky aïoli is the essence of Provence, along with bouillabaisse and ratatouille. Pastis is the favourite apéritif.

Provence’s wines, which go so well with its cuisine, grow in the ancient places near the coast, especially its quartet of tiny AOC districts Bellet, Bandol, Cassis and Palette. The Côtes-du-Rhône wine area is one of the biggest in France and includes powerful reds Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, as well as Tavel—considered by many the very best rosé wine in the world—and the sweet muscat apéritif wine, Beaumes-de-Venise.

aïgo boulido

garlic and herb soup


garlic sauce of the south

alouettes sans têtes

headless larks

bagna cauda

hot garlic dip


goat cheese discs in chestnut leaves


mushroom or artichoke dish


boiled sweet or hard candy


Marseille’s famous fish soup


salt cod and olive oil purée


piquant shepherd’s cheese

Brousse de Rove

rare fresh goat milk cheese


pungent cheese from Mont Ventoux

Caillou du Faron

crunchy chocolate ‘pebbles’


luxury sweeties from Aix

chichi frégi

French churros

croquette de Vinsobres

hard almond biscuits


beef stew, Provence style



Farigoule de Forcalquier

thyme liqueur

figue de Solliès

purple fig from Provence

fruit confit

candied fruit

gardianne de taureau

cowboy beef stew from the Camargue

herbes de Provence

dried herbs from the south

Les Treize Desserts

The Thirteen Desserts of Christmas

merda di can

‘dog poop’ gnocchi


mixed salad greens

Muscat du Ventoux

black table grapes from Provence

navettes de Marseille

sweet little Candlemas bisquits

nèfle du Japon


nougat de Montélimar

France’s most famous nougat

olive noire de Nyons

special wrinkly black olive


Carnival fritters

Origan du Comtat

Mont Ventoux’s oregano-scented liqueur

paella camarguaise

paella, Arles style

pan bagnat

the ‘wet’ sandwich of Nice


chickpea flour chips

papalines d’Avignon

oregano liqueur-filled chocolates

petits farcis

little stuffed vegetables

pieds et paquets

stewed lamb’s trotters and tripe


onion, anchovy and olive ‘pizza’


fry...or frites with gravy and cheese


green pasta from the Val de Roya


summer vegetables


ravioli—invented in Nice!



salade niçoise

France’s most famous salad


chick pea pancake

soupe au pistou

vegetable and pesto soup

suce miel

medieval honey stick


olive paste

tarte de Champsaur

jam-filled pie from the Alps

Tarte tropézienne

dessert from Saint-Tropez


deconstructed ratatouille

tourte aux blettes

sweet chard pie

tourtons des Alpes

fried sweet or savoury ravioli

vin cuit

‘cooked’ dessert wine

violet de mer

sea squirt

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by x1klima