Provence is more than a simple destination, it's a whole way of life!
It's no coincidence if the South has inspired so many artists, writers and poets... it is the epitome of a peaceful, chill and stress-free lifestyle. Even Aznavour concurred: "It seems to me that misery would be easier to handle in the sunshine". And it's true! We may not be the richest people in the world, but we're definitely the happiest!
And then there's lunch. Provencal food really is a joy: the perfumes, the generous dishes handed down through the generations, sauces that simmer away gently, the scent of summer, sunshine and the sea. It's just fantastic!
One of our favourites is a delicious beef stew (daube), a family dish that you take time to savour. And it's almost as much fun making it as it is serving it! In fact, if you fancy trying it out, here's the recipe (even if everyone has their own 'best recipe' of course…):
- 1 kg stewing beef
- 3 carrots
- smoked streaky bacon
- thyme bay leaf, parsley, juniper berries, 4 cloves
- 5 onions
- 6 garlic cloves
- red wine vinegar (half a glass)
- orange zest
- 1 ½ litres red wine (no point using your finest vintage right?)
To make the marinade: take 3 chopped onions, the herbs, 2 garlic cloves, the chopped carrots and diced meat (nice and fatty). Add the vinegar, cover with red wine and chill in the fridge for a day (or all night, even better).
To cook: take a large iron pot, add the streaky bacon, a dash of olive oil, the 2 remaining chopped onions, the orange zest (not too much eh?), then bring geeeently to the boil. Take the meat (drain first) and brown it in the pot. Add the remaining garlic and everything in the marinade (use a skimmer). Cook up well, then add the marinade 'juice' and BOOM! Leave to cook for 3 hours (you can leave it for longer if you want but, er hum, everyone might be feeling peckish by now). Serve with pasta or potatoes and Enjoy!
Provence is all about pretty little villages too – perfect for a Sunday stroll -, olive groves (yes, we love our olives), vineyards where you can sample a nice glass of rosé, lavender fields that remind you of those little sachets your grandmothers used to put in her cupboards, the sea, the gulls (they eat pigeons by the way…) and, naturellement, pastis!
There are loads of great places to discover:
Aix-en-Provence with its pretty paved streets. Just down the road is Château La Coste – a 495-acre vineyard and magnificent hub of art and wine. What could be better?!
Camargue, with its wide-open spaces, pink flamingos, and free-roaming horses and bulls.
A walk on Sainte Victoire mountain in the footsteps of Cézanne, where you can see the landscapes he painted.
The 'Calanques' fjords, to gaze in awe, revel in the turquoise waters, climb, walk, bathe and picnic, with all the family or even on your own.
Les Baux-de-Provence, a little medieval village set amid almond orchards and olive groves, crowned with a ruined 11th-century castle, maze of little lanes and breathtaking views over the Alpilles. Don't miss a stop-off in Mouriés, Eygalières and Maussane-les-Alpilles too.
Arles, with its beautiful old paved streets and Roman remains, now UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Parc du Mugel in La Ciotat, with its botanical garden – a genuine voyage to exotic climes!
The 'Route des Crêtes' mountain pass road between Cassis and La Ciotat via Cape Canaille (its 394-metre cliffs are the highest in France!). The views are simply breathtaking and the descent at sunset is awe-inspiring!
Provence is all of that and more: happiness, rays of sunshine, good humour and making the most of life... It's fabulous – and we love it ! Anaïs et Pedro
"We are Anaïs and Pedro, we love loads of things, like the States, Japan, pizzas, Motorhead, Vietnamese food and karaoke… On our blog, we talk about our travels and the places we love in Marseille and elsewhere. We also host really fun evening events from time to time."
Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us!
A gourmet treat…
Provence has been famed for its candied fruit from time immemorial. In the early 16th century, the region was fairly impoverished. Fruit grew here in abundance, but much of it was lost every year.
In a sauce or salad, red is the colour!
Not having qualifications doesn't mean your life is ruined
Can anyone resist an almond? Everyone raves about these little nuggets of happiness you can savour every which way – fresh, dried, whole, grilled, sliced, ground or made into a cream or milk!
The Gourmet's New Eldorado
It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago
It all starts with a crushed clove...
Provencal cuisine simply wouldn't exist without garlic
Francis lived happily close beside his tree...
Picked ripe from the tree, figs are simply to die for. They can also be scattered on trays and left to dry in the sun for 3 days: "That's the best way to keep your figs all winter – we serve figs at Christmas as one of Provence's famous 13 Desserts," smiles Jacqueline Honoré.
A story that will make you turn to jelly...
As yellow as sunshine and as warm as a winter fireplace... The quince isn't very pretty, but the people of Provence love it. You could even say that a passion has been born between this irregular-shaped fruit, somewhat resembling a dented, rustic pear and our lovers of jams, jellies and pastes.
When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).