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Credit: Ann Schmidt Flavours of Provence Expert Emily Durand says feast your eyes and your taste buds... The cuisine of France is rightly famous, in fact the “gastronomic meal of the French” is UNESCO listed as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” In France there is a way to savour, to mix and match, there is an art to eating and drinking, everything flows together making food much more than just a time to eat. It is a cultural event, artistic, pleasurable and indulgent, inspiring you to partake in a harmony of senses that please more than just your palate. To fully grasp all that Provence can offer, ideally you should spend a week to nine days here to enjoy a true taste of sunny southern France. You will have time to go as far south as the Mediterranean, as far west as the Camargue, as far east as the Luberon and as far north as the Ventoux/ Cotes-du-Rhone region. These four areas of Provence not only complete the true gourmet Provence experience but also allow travellers to immerse themselves into the different cultural and historical elements of this sunny southern region. For foodies, or even just the curious at heart, Provence is the ideal location for exploring flavours and culinary delights. It is the Garden of Eden which has supplied the locals for centuries. Treasures such as mushrooms, truffles, thyme, rosemary and wild fennel, asparagus and lavender abound here.
In Paris, during the 50’s, sophisticated dinner parties always had something “truffle”. If what you served lacked truffle, you sure wouldn’t tell your friends the truth for fear of being “out” of the “in” crowd. Left: Aigues-Mortes, Camargue; below left: hrbes de Provence; above: melons from Cavaillon Region – Camargue Start with what is known as the “cowboy culture” in Provence. White Camargue horses, bulls, flamingoes, rice fields and salt marshes are all situated where the Rhone River splits before flowing into the Mediterranean, this is the fascinating region known as Camargue. Getting up close with producers and locals to discover more about the land and agricultural practices which are unique in the world is important in a foodie tour and brings connection to the product itself. From a sea shell found only in the marshes (la telline) to the raising of bull and the salt marshes lining the Mediterranean, Camargue is one of the world’s most intriguing agricultural centers. Region – Mediterranean The “real” Provence region does not extend all the way to the French Rivera (Cannes/ Nice area) but it does include Marseille and Cassis. A foodie trip to Provence would never be complete without Bouillabaisse - a fish stew with a unique broth flavored with saffron. Many chefs and restaurants have the authentic recipe (“authentic” being sometimes unique to the chef cooking). I enjoy taking my guests to a small family run restaurant in in Cassis for this experience. Region – The Luberon Welcome to my hometown, Cavaillon, the melon capital of Provence. Melons were introduced from Italy and to give you an idea of just how luxurious this fruit was considered to be, Alexandre Dumas donated 300 of his published works to Cavaillon public library in exchange for 12 melons a year! The Luberon is also a prime area for truffle growing. No culinary trip to Provence would be complete without an educational and mouth-watering truffle hunting and tasting experience.
And much, much more
Our Contributors Karen Booth-Burns
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