Provence, with its sun-kissed landscapes and rich, fertile soil, is a region where nature's bounty thrives.

The Mediterranean climate, characterised by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, creates the perfect conditions for growing a variety of unique and flavorful products. The Mistral wind, which sweeps through the Rhône Valley, helps to keep the air dry and the crops healthy. This combination of natural factors results in an abundance of exceptional produce that embodies the essence of Provençal cuisine and culture. Let’s explore some of the most cherished local products that you simply must experience when visiting Provence.

Fougasse
melons at a market
olives farmers market

Olives

An essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, olives are a symbol of Provence. The entire region is dotted with olive groves, with the olive trees themselves playing a special role in the area's agricultural heritage. Provencal olives are often cured in various ways, producing a range of flavours from tangy to sweet, and are a staple in many dishes across the region like tapenade and pissaladière.


Best place to purchase

Visit the Moulin Castelas in Les Baux-de-Provence for a wide selection of high-quality olive oils and a chance to see the traditional pressing process. Their tours and tastings offer a deep dive into the history and production of olive oil.

Melons

Described as "tasty" by Abbot Jacques Delille and a "masterpiece of the summer" by Voltaire, the regional melon is a must-try during your holidays in Provence. The Cavaillon melon is a favourite amongst locals for its exceptional sweetness and aroma.


Best place to purchase

The Cavaillon Market is famous for its melons. Held every Monday, it is the perfect place to taste and buy the best melons Provence has to offer.

Candied fruits

Brightly coloured and irresistibly sweet, candied fruits are a Provencal delicacy. Apt, in The Luberon, is known as the world capital of candied fruits, making it the best place to indulge in these sugary delights. The process of candying fruit dates back centuries and involves slowly cooking the fruit in sugar syrup, preserving its natural flavours and textures.

Best place to purchase

Head to Confiserie Saint-Denis in Apt for an extensive selection of candied fruits from cherries to oranges and pears, all made using traditional methods.

Berlingots

The berlingot, a sweet from Provence, specifically from Carpentras, is one of the oldest candies in France. These colourful, hard candies come in various flavours and are a nostalgic treat for many. Berlingots are known for their distinctive pyramid shape and their stripes, often flavoured with mint, anise, or fruit essences.

Best place to purchase

Confiserie du Mont Ventoux in Carpentras offers a huge array of berlingots, made using age-old recipes. Visiting this shop is like stepping back in time, where you can watch the candies being made and sample different flavours.

Lavender

Of course, lavender is the emblematic plant of Provence. Lavender is used not only in perfumery but also in culinary creations and health remedies, thanks to its soothing properties. Beyond its visual appeal and gorgeous smell, lavender is a versatile plant extensively used in perfumery, cooking, and health remedies. In perfumery, lavender oil is a key ingredient in many perfumes and colognes, prized for its clean, fresh scent that evokes the essence of the French countryside and is often blended with other floral, citrus, or woody notes. Lavender is used in cooking to infuse honey and syrups, as an ingredient in baked goods like lavender shortbread and cakes, and as a component of Herbes de Provence, used to season meats, vegetables, and stews. Known for its calming effects, lavender is also widely used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce stress, and its essential oil is commonly used in diffusers, massage oils, and bath products to create a spa-like atmosphere at home. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of lavender also make it both popular and beneficial in skin care products.

Best place to purchase

For wellness products, L'Occitane en Provence in Manosque offers a wide range of high-quality lavender items, from essential oils to cosmetics. For culinary uses, Les Lavandes de Champelle in Sault offers a variety of lavender-infused products like lavender honey, syrup and dried herbs, perfect for cooking.

Candied fruits

Brightly coloured and irresistibly sweet, candied fruits are a Provencal delicacy. Apt, in The Luberon, is known as the world capital of candied fruits, making it the best place to indulge in these sugary delights. The process of candying fruit dates back centuries and involves slowly cooking the fruit in sugar syrup, preserving its natural flavours and textures.

Best place to purchase

Head to Confiserie Saint-Denis in Apt for an extensive selection of candied fruits from cherries to oranges and pears, all made using traditional methods.

Berlingots

The berlingot, a sweet from Provence, specifically from Carpentras, is one of the oldest candies in France. These colourful, hard candies come in various flavours and are a nostalgic treat for many. Berlingots are known for their distinctive pyramid shape and their stripes, often flavoured with mint, anise, or fruit essences.

Best place to purchase

Confiserie du Mont Ventoux in Carpentras offers a huge array of berlingots, made using age-old recipes. Visiting this shop is like stepping back in time, where you can watch the candies being made and sample different flavours.

Apricots

One of the most common fruits in the Mediterranean region, apricots from Provence are known for their sweet, tangy flavour and juicy texture. They are often used in jams, desserts, and even savoury dishes. The apricots from Provence are celebrated for their deep orange colour and rich taste, which comes from the region’s huge amount of sunshine and fertile soil.

Best place to purchase

The Apt Market is renowned for its fresh apricots. Held every Saturday, you can also find a variety of locally produced apricot-based products, such as preserves and pastries.

Pears

With more than two thousand varieties, pears are a popular fruit grown in France. Provencal pears have particularly rich flavour. They are used in a variety of regional dishes, from desserts like tarts and poached pears to salads and savoury dishes. The pear season in Provence typically runs from August to October, harvesting during the late summer and early autumn months.

Best place to purchase

Marché des Arcs in Arcs-sur-Argens offers a variety of fresh pears and other local fruits. The market is a vibrant place to explore and taste the region's bounty.

Aix-en-Provence calissons

This shuttle-shaped sweet, made from candied melon paste and crushed almonds, has been a speciality of Aix-en-Provence since the fifteenth century. Calissons are traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas season but are available year-round.

Best place to purchase

Le Roy René in Aix-en-Provence is renowned for its authentic calissons. The factory even offers tours and tastings, allowing visitors to learn about the history and production of this iconic sweet.

Tapenade

A popular Provençal dish, tapenade is made from puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, and olive oil, and is a flavourful addition to any meal. It is typically spread on bread or used as a condiment for meats and vegetables. A quintessential Provençal dish, tapenade is a savoury spread made from puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil. It is a staple in Provençal cuisine, often enjoyed as an appetiser during leisurely meals with family and friends.

Best place to purchase

If you find yourself visiting Nice, La Maison de l'Olive is a great place to purchase a variety of delicious tapenades and other olive-based products. The staff offer samples and suggestions for pairing and overall it is a great stop for olive lovers.

Figs

The fig is a highly symbolic fruit of Mediterranean culture. In Provence, it holds a significant historical, cultural, gastronomical, and economic place. Figs are versatile and can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or incorporated into various dishes and desserts. Their natural sweetness and chewy texture make them a local favourite in both sweet and savoury recipes.

Best place to purchase

Visit the Fig Festival in Solliès-Pont in August to taste and purchase the finest figs of the season. This festival celebrates the harvest with tastings, cooking demonstrations, and plenty of fresh figs.

Truffles

Known as the "black diamond" of Provence, truffles are a highly sought-after delicacy in Provence. The Vaucluse and Drôme regions are particularly famous for their truffles. If you are a truffle lover, check out our article dedicated to truffle hunting in Provence.

Best place to purchase

The Richerenches Truffle Market is held every Saturday from November to March, and it is the place to go for truffle lovers.

Carpentras strawberries

Thanks to the sunny climate of Provence, these small, fragrant, and crunchy red fruits are harvested from March to June. Carpentras strawberries are celebrated for their exceptional taste and are often enjoyed fresh, in desserts, or made into jams.

Best place to purchase

As the name may suggest, the Carpentras Market on Friday mornings is the best place to find these delicious strawberries.

Nougat

Nougat is one of the most prized sweets in Provence. This honey and almond treat is often enjoyed during the Christmas season as a key component of the traditional thirteen desserts of Provence.

Best place to purchase

Nougat Jonquier in Ollioules produces exquisite nougat using traditional methods passed down through generations. Their nougat is made with local honey and almonds – a true Provencal delight.

Asparagus

With the arrival of spring, it is time for asparagus to shine. Green asparagus is the most common variety grown in Provence and is known for its tender stalks and slightly nutty flavour.

Best place to purchase

Marché Forville in Cannes is an excellent spot to find fresh asparagus during the spring months. The market is also a great place to discover other seasonal vegetables and local specialities.

Cherries

In Provence, a large portion of the cherry production is transformed into candied fruits, sweets, lollipops, and jam. Fresh cherries are also enjoyed during their short season from May to July.

Best place to purchase

The Venasque Cherry Festival in June is the perfect place to enjoy fresh cherries and cherry-based products. The festival hosts tastings, cherry-picking, and various fun cherry-themed activities.

Fougasse

A traditional Provencal flatbread, fougasse is a staple on tables throughout the region. This bread is often shaped to resemble an ear of wheat and is often flavoured with local ingredients like olives, herbs, cheese, or anchovies.

Best place to purchase

Le Fougassier in Marseille is famed for its delicious and diverse fougasses, baked fresh daily. The bakery offers a range of flavours, from traditional to innovative combinations.

Navettes

Traditionally prepared for Candlemas, these small, orange, blossom flavoured biscuits are now enjoyed year-round. Navettes are shaped like small boats, symbolising the arrival of Saint Lazarus in Marseille.

Best place to purchase

Four des Navettes in Marseille has been baking these iconic biscuits since 1781. The bakery is a true landmark and part of the furniture of Marseille.

Poutargue

Known as "Mediterranean caviar," poutargue is a luxurious and rare Provencal speciality made from dried and salted mullet roe eggs. It is often grated over pasta or served thinly sliced with bread and butter.

Best place to purchase

Maison L. Petrossian in Marseille offers high-quality poutargue, prized by connoisseurs. This gourmet shop sells a range of other goods and fine seafood products.

market food

Provence is more than just sun and beaches; it is a trove of exceptional gastronomy too. We hope that after reading this article, you have gained a deeper understanding of the sheer number of fantastic foods, produce, and flavours that come from Provence. Many of these dishes are steeped in history, and it is a real testament to the region to honour them in this article. We hope that on your next visit to Provence, you get to enjoy some of these delicacies.

A bientôt,

The Provence Holidays Team