Did you miss Part One of our series on French food and wine? Find it here.
When you travel to France you will be enticed with an almost overwhelming number of delicious food and drink options. With so many choices, making a final decision can be difficult. For a good meal, your best bet is to look for specialties from the region you’re in, whether it’s the port of Cherbourg, in Normandy, or Sète, in Languedoc. Similar to Italy, each region of France is known for its own unique dishes and wine varieties.
In Part Two of our series on French food and wine, we’re exploring the delectable cuisine of the sun-kissed south of France.
The Food and Wine of Southern France.
With its mild climate, abundant sunshine (with an average of 304 days without rain, Sanary-sur-Mer is said to be the sunniest place in France) and easy access to the sea, the cuisine of southern France is ripe with fresh produce, crisp wines, and Mediterranean influences. Provencal cuisine uses less sauces and more fresh herbs than other regions in France.
Bouillabaisse: This well-known fish stew hails from the port city of Marseilles. Local fish like turbot, red rascasse, and mullot are cooked together with shellfish including mussels and spider crab, with leeks, potatoes, celery and tomatoes in a broth seasoned with garlic, onions and herbs de Provence. Traditionally the dish is served in two courses, the broth first, followed by the fish, but these days it’s common to have them served together.
Brandade de Morue: In the south of France, this is a common dip made from emulsified salted cod and olive oil, and can be served either with bread or potatoes.
Ratatouille: Thanks to the Disney movie of the same name, this vegetarian favorite is now one of France’s best-known dishes. Ratatouille is a stew made from local vegetables including tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers and onions and seasoned garlic and herbes de Provence.
Côtes du Rhône Wines: This southern wine region produces reds, whites, and rosés. Most of the reds and rosés are made from the Grenache grape. Grenache wines are spicy in flavor, low in acidity, and high in alcohol content. White wines are made from the Grenache Blanc grape, and similar to the Grenache grape, are high in alcohol. The whites often have a citrusy flavor.
Rosés: Pink-hued rosés are made from red grapes but only contain a partial amount of the grape skins. In Provence, rosé makes up two-thirds of all wine production. While pink wines are often assumed to be sweet, in this region most of the rosés are very dry. Rosés are meant to be served ice-cold, so the next time you’re spending a sunny summer day in Saint Tropez, grab an outdoor chair at a café and say “yes way” to the rosé.
Soup au Pistou: Liguria, in Italy is famous for its pesto, but along France’s Cote d’Azur it’s all about pistou. Like pesto, pistou is a thick sauce make from garlic, and lots of basil and cheese, but it doesn’t contain any pine nuts, the other main ingredient in pesto. In this Provencal dish, a vegetable soup with white beans is served with a giant dollop of pistou.
Salade Niçoise: A fantastic lunchtime meal, Salade Niçoise was invented in Nice, France. The salad ingredients include fresh tomatoes, olives, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs and tuna, all dressed with olive oil. While the main ingredients stay the same, there’s still plenty of room for variation–the tuna can be fresh or canned, the salad can be served warm or cold…. the possibilities are almost endless.
Socca: Another specialty of Nice, socca is a local street food favorite. It’s a simple flatbread made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil, that’s poured into a hot pan and baked. The next time you’re in the south of France craving an afternoon snack, pick up a slice at a local bakery. It pairs very well with the regional rosé.
Sunshine, turquoise waters, and incredible cuisine—what’s not to love about the south of France? Learn more about cruising to the French Riviera here.
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