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The Provence region

   

The heart of Provence is in the hills that bind the sea to the Alps. These are the sloping vineyards; the cultivated lands and the colorful scenery that charmed Cezanne (Aix en Provence), Van Gogh (Arles), Chagall or Giono. In Provence or the Midi the local people have a soft singing accent which evokes their whole relaxed lifestyle. They have no greater pleasure after a hard days work than to enjoy a delicious and hardy meal shared with friends...

This is the picturesque Provence of Pagnol, Raimu, and Fernandel.

Here one can find 900kms of beaches, inlets and marinas, 27,000km2 of snowy peaks, forests and pine groves all awash in sunlight (about 3000 hours per year)! Provence is both picturesque villages in the hills and busy metropolises possessinginternational airports (Nice and Marseille). Provence is of course olive groves and lavender; but there are also the famous vineyards of Côtes du Rhône, Côtes de Provence and Bandol (see our Wine & Provence page), everything growing to the hum of the cicadas!

   

Specialities

Aïoli: A mayonnaise sauce with garlic. "Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) epitomizes the heat, the power, and the joy of the Provençal sun, but it has another virtue - it drives away flies." Frédéric Mistral (1891)
Berlingot de Carpentras: Berlingot (From the name Bertrand de Goth) of Carpentras. Around 1313, the last teacher by the name of Sylvestre, had made a baked caramel, its found with a quantity of syrup not used. He had the idea of recooking the caramel adding mint and lemon.
Biscotin: Sweet cookie. Made in Aix en Provence.
Bouillabaisse: Seafood dish and originally a fisherman's dish. In the traditional Marseilles bouillabaisse, fishes are cut up in front of the guests or family.
Calisson: Delicious confection made with almonds and candied melons. Calisson appeared in Aix in its modern shape around 1473 for a meal made for Roi René's second wedding.
Brousse: Provencal cheese, mainly from sheep's milk.
Fabrics: In the seventeenth century, the linens coming from the Indies through Marseille via the sea, had bright colors causing a sensation throughout the South of France. Because of their costly prices, imitations were inevitable. The south France textile industry tried to copy the new indiennes first exactly, then creating a provencal art.
Fruits confits: The village of Apt is known for its fruits confits (candied fruits): include apricots, clementines, prunes, pears, melons, clementines, cherries...
Herbs de Provence: A mixture of dried herbs from Provence, dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, savory...
Pastis: The provencal much-loved drink made with plants and spices. Mixed with fresh mineral water, it is a fine aperitif for any occasion...
Pissaladière: Onion Tart, Nice's version of the Italian pizza, made with onions, olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme, sea salt, anchovy fillets, nicoise olives, bread flour.
Pistou: The French version of Italy's pesto usually served with the fish soup.
Poutargue: Speciality of Martigues with mullet or muje roe covered with fine salt and turned over regularly, grated on to a slice of farmhous loaf.
Santons: Provencal Crib figurines made out of terracotta
Tomatoes: Queen of the Provence summers, gorged of sunshine, the finest tomatoes one could possibly imagine...
Tomates provençales: Tomatoes covered with garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs and olive oil and roasted in the oven.
Ratatouille: A provencal dish made with eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
Soap: Big blocks of olive oil based soap have been crafted for one thousand years in Provence.
Socca: Socca is a popular snack food of Nice made from chickpea flour.
Tapenade: Paste made with black olives, capers, anchovies, fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, coarse salt, served as an appetizer on bread croutons.
 
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