The cuisine of France is renowned for many reasons – across the country menus offer tempting regional dishes. The taste of the south though is very different from that of the north, influences from neighbouring Italy, from Spain and North Africa, have left their mark.
The sun-drenched French Riviera, lapped by the Mediterranean Sea, is a melting pot of tasty dishes as all those influences come together to create some truly breath-taking flavours.
The gentle climate lends itself to al fresco dining for most of the year, even in winter, and here you’ll enjoy bold flavours like garlic, olive oil and herbs that give the food a unique quality and make it among the best in France.
Here’s a must-try list of fabulous gastronomic delights for you to discover the exquisite flavours for yourself…
Visit a Market
Cours Saleya credit @ A.Issock, Nice Tourism
The markets of the south of France are famous for their vibrant atmosphere, fresh seasonal produce and colourful characters. Visit the Nice market, the Cours Saleya, and relish the endless stands of local Socca, Pissaladiere and Salad Nicoise served in a bun as a snack called a pan bagnat. As you enjoy the scent of sea salt olive oil and smoke wafting around you, you’ll definitely be tempted by the exotic spices, fresh local fish, organic honey and home-made jams, flamboyant flowers and juicy fruits, soothing, deliciously scented lavender and local arts & crafts.
Fish and Pastis in Marseille
The world's greatest bouillabaisse is made in southern France and Marseille, in particular, is famous for the flavoursome fish stew. Almost every restaurant, from Michelin-star venues to tiny cafés will serve their own version. Check out the ‘Panier’ area, the famous old district for great people watching from the pavement and terraces.
Before your meal though, enjoy sipping a Pastis like the locals (who call it Pastaga). This aniseed flavoured and very strong liqueur should be enjoyed with ice, and perhaps a little water if you want to keep a clear head!
Divine Wine visits
Porquerolles, credit @ Julien Maucery, Hyeres Tourism
There are masses of choice for vineyard visits all along the French Riviera. Much loved by the locals are the wines from the vineyards of Bellet. Just ten minutes’ drive from Nice airport, the dozen or so vineyards from one of the smallest Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) regions in France. Located high in the hills, requiring a drive up some very steep and winding roads you’re guaranteed a warm welcome and a fabulous tasting of some unique wines from the land where grapes have been grown for two millennia.To go even more off the beaten track, visit Hyeres-
To go even more off the beaten track, visit Hyeres-les-Palmiers, a little town outside of Toulon which boasts over 8,000 palm trees. From here take a 15 minutes cruise to the island of Porquerolles to see its vineyards and savour liqueurs while you have a game of petanque. Try Domaine Perzinsky for its wonderful views and shady terraced tasting area.
The allure of Antibes beach restaurants
Antibes has lured many admirers over the years, from Picasso to Miles Davis, drawn by the dazzling blue sea, the warm architecture and the culture. This is a place of fishermen’s districts and wharves, markets and pine groves where the living is good. Head out to the surrounding villages like Vallauris for an authentic taste of Mediterranean cuisine in a gorgeous surrounding. Here, beach restaurants and traditional brasseries are plentiful and you’ll find the prices are much lower than in the main tourist areas.
There isn’t much that beats dining at a restaurant along the sea’s edge at night when the air has cooled and the sky is filled with stars. Watching the twinkling lights of the boats, listening to the soft sound of jazz being played on the beach and the gentle waves lapping the beach as you dip into a freshly made tapenade made from sun dried tomatoes – priceless!
French Connections has oodles of fabulous villas, gites, B&Bs and apartments all over the south of France, just perfect for your any time of the year gourmet visit!