This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.
Food in Provence – The Must-Eats of Provençal Cuisine16/09/2023
What to Eat in Provence
Provencal cuisine is distinctively French but with that special touch given by the Mediterranean climate that produces flavorful ingredients.
Seasonal and fresh vegetables like tomatoes and garlic and the fragrant “herbes de Provence” (a mixture of thyme, rosemary, savory, and oregano) are the base of most dishes you will taste while in Provence.
Rooted in the simplicity of family-style cuisine, here’s the best food in Provence, delicious Provençal food recipes that you absolutely need to try.
Provençal Food Recipes You Need to Try
What to eat in Provence? Here are the best foods you will find in Provence (classic Provençal dishes and sweets), and the descriptions will help you decide if you want to try them or not.
Bouillabaisse is one of the most famous Provençal foods. You might know bouillabaisse as a luxurious seafood stew, but this dish has humble origins. It was eaten by the fishermen in Marseille, who prepared it using the leftovers from their daily catch.
Bouillabaisse is made with a combination of broth and fresh seafood, which are served separately. As for the seafood, Marseille’s bouillabaisse must include at least four of the following species: scorpion fish, monkfish, white scorpion fish, fielas (conger eel), spider crab, capon (red scorpion fish), galinette (red mullet), St. Pierre (John Dory), slipper lobster, lobster. This long list allows restaurants and families to choose according to the arrivals and number of guests.
The long hours of simmering with vegetables, white wine, and aromatics (saffron, bay leaf, and dried oranges) give this Marseille food its distinctive and rich flavor and bright orange color.
The best place to try bouillabaisse is, of course, in Marseille, where this dish can cost from 80€ up to 130€ (when it has lobster).
TIP: Learn more about food in Marseille with this top-rated Marseille food tour with tastings.
One of the most popular Provençal recipes is, without a doubt, ratatouille. Arisen to fame thanks to the Disney movie of the same name, ratatouille is a traditional specialty from Nice.
Ratatouille is a vegan dish prepared with tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants, onions, and garlic. This Provence food can be enjoyed on its own as a vegetable stew with toasted garlic bread or as a side to roasted or grilled meat mains, usually lamb or chicken.
Ratatouille is one of the Provence foods that you can enjoy any time, as it is served either hot or cold.
TIP: This Nice food walking tour with tastings always gets the best reviews.
3. Soupe au Pistou
Soupe au Pistou is a very popular food in Provence. It is a fragrant vegetable soup made even more delicious by adding a pesto-like paste made from crushed garlic, basil, and olive oil.
Some people add cheese to the soup, but many locals think it is unnecessary (besides being too Italian). But with or without cheese, the soupe au pistou is incredibly tasteful!
This soup is usually enjoyed during the summer to enjoy and benefit from the fresh seasonal vegetables.
4. Lapin à la Provencale
Lapin à la Provencale is an incredibly fragrant and colorful rabbit stew that combines the characteristical flavors of this region in Southern France.
The meat is tender and juicy thanks to the cooking method in the oven, and the dish calls for the use of late-spring seasonal ingredients such as fresh tomatoes, black olives, and lemon.
What distinguishes the way to make the lapin à la Provençale is the use of the aromatic mix of herbs of Provence and dry white wine from Provence.
Served warm, this dish is everyone’s favorite and will become yours too!
Aïoli is a thick garlic sauce with a consistency similar to mayonnaise. It is made with simple ingredients: garlic cloves, egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, white pepper, and olive oil.
The rich taste makes aïoli perfect to be used as a dipping sauce, and in Provence, it is served mainly alongside seafood dishes.
However, aïoli is such a beloved food in Provence that it is served during parties and feast days in the version called Le Grand Aïoli, where the dipping sauce is put at the center of the plate and paired with boiled artichoke, soaked salt cod, tuna, and simply cooked vegetables.
6. Daube Provençale
Daube Provençale is a simple but delicious beef stew that used to be cooked and eaten by the 19th-century working class as a warm and calorie-rich dish.
Tender and hearty, the beef is marinated overnight in red wine and then slow-cooked alongside smoked port belly, carrots, black olives, and other vegetables. Before serving, the meat is seasoned with aromatics, including thyme and laurel.
To raise the already complex flavor profile to the next level, this Provençal dish has a secret ingredient: dried orange peels that make it truly unforgettable!
7. Agneau de Provence
Lamb is a staple of French cuisine, and it is one of the main ingredients in many Provençal recipes.
Agneau de Provence is a simple yet delicious dish with the rich taste of a traditional home-style meal. The lamb is slow-cooked in a heavy casserole in the oven, which is what makes the meat incredibly juicy.
The dish is usually served during family gatherings or dinner parties with friends, and it is enjoyed with sides of roast potatoes, crisp green salads, or pan-fried green beans with garlic.
To enjoy the agneau de Provence even more, accompany it with a glass of rich red wine.
Tapenade is a velvety spread made from black olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, and the fabulous mixture of herbes de Provence.
This food was invented in the port town of Marseille, and its name comes from the term that in Provence is used for “caper,” from an earlier version of the spread made only from mashed capers.
Tapenade is a popular Provençal food served mainly during apéritifs: it is eaten spread on a slice of baguette accompanied by a cool glass of pastis liquor.
The salty flavor of the spread pairs wonderfully with seafood, making it ideal for a fine sea-view lunch or dinner in Marseille.
9. Calissons from Aix-en-Provence
A sweet delicatessen, calissons are the best-known biscuits from Aix-en-Provence.
Made from almonds, candied melons, and oranges soaked in syrup paste, the biscuits are long-shaped and covered in white or colorful sweet icing. Calissons’ consistency is similar to marzipan, but they taste entirely different.
What makes these divine biscuits the most typical product of Aix en Provence is the particularly sweet local almonds used in its preparation.
You can find calissons in the markets of Aix-en-Provence and surrounding towns. Enjoy calissons with a cup of tea or coffee for a perfect end of the meal!
TIP: Don’t miss this top-rated Aix-en-Provence food walking tour!
Navettes are typical shaped-boats biscuits from the city of Marseille. Traditionally prepared for Candlemas Day, a Christian holy day, you can find them all year round.
The original version of these biscuits is still produced by a single bakery in town, the ancient Four des Navettes. Original navettes from this bakery are slightly different from the ones sold everywhere else. They are about 15 centimeters long and have a rather hard consistency that makes you appreciate their taste more once warmed up.
Elsewhere in Provence, navettes are smaller, softer, and have a more pronounced boat shape.
Whatever type of navettes you find, the slightly sweet, orange blossom flavor renders these biscuits utterly delicious.