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A picturesque pocket of Villefranche, along the coastline of Nice in France.

A Gastronome's Guide to the South of France

Beyond the shimmering glitz and aqua-blue tranquillity of the of the French Riviera, the south of France is a must-see destination for those interested in exploring some of the best food, wine and history that France has to offer.

Let’s face it, since forever France has generously over-delivered its gourmet goodness to us from all corners. For this we
are eternally grateful. But as you start to explore, it’s evident that each region is distinct, with their own terroirs, histories and customs shaping the produce, recipes, wines and flavours that distinguish each pocket from the next.

A textbook example of this is the confluence of Languedoc-Roussillon and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur territories that make up what we know as the south of France. From the sun-kissed beaches of Nice to the rugged coastline of Marseille, the bustling markets
of Avignon to the medieval charm of Carcassonne, each corner of this glorious region offers a unique blend of flavours and experiences that humbly push aside the singular perception of it as a millionaire’s playground.



Join us for a recreation of this special flavour quest aboard Oceania Cruises’ Riviera from Rome to Barcelona, November 1st to 14th 2024. Selector publisher Paul Diamond will be hosting a small group tour that will begin in Rome and finish in Barcelona on board Riviera.

Tour includes: Rome, private tours, dinners and tastings across three days in Tuscany, private winery excursions and tastings and lunches across Etna and Provence, as well as on-board masterclasses, exclusive dinners and tastings across the itinerary. This is a small group tour and spots are strictly limited.

Nominate your interest to receive details by emailing taturramurra@travelassociates.com

Find out more



If freedom and exploration is important to your travels, then driving is a must to get beyond the well-worn tourism paths. If you are coming from Paris, head south via the A71, then the A75 and across the Gorges du Tarn on the Viaduc de Millau – a sight to behold. The Millau Viaduct is a multi-span cable-stayed bridge completed in 2004 and is the world’s tallest bridge. Apart from being the least congested and least tolled route between Paris and the Mediterranean, the villages that surround the gorge are some of France’s most beautiful. Well worth a visit, especially Peyre, uniquely built into the rock hill that sits on the river Tarn.

Southern Gateway - the spectacular Viaduct de Millau

Southern Gateway: the spectacular Viaduct de Millau.

Flavour icon of the South of France, it's a classic French cassoulet.

Flavour icon of the South of France, it's a classic French cassoulet.



From there, east onto the Alpes-Côte d’Azur side, or west towards Languedoc-Roussillon, the choices are many and varied, but generally the place you’ll wind up first before heading west or east is Montpellier. A relatively young city with an abundance of art and history melding nicely with its bright beachy character, Montpellier is where you can start to get a sense of what truly defines the south of France, with its delightful fusion of Mediterranean ingredients, Provençal herbs, and artisanal heritage. If hunger calls, a good place to start is with a cassoulet. Invented in the south, this centuries-old stew is a gastronomical identity and a big deal; so big in fact that it has its own world championship. Variations are endless, but expect generosity and richness to accompany this slow cooked sausage, confit (typically duck), pork, and white beaned masterpiece. Washed down with a punchy red, your welcome to the south will be complete. 

A daily delicacy in France, visiting a classic fromagerie (cheese) market stall with all the goods.

A daily delicacy in France, visiting a classic fromagerie (cheese) market stall with all the goods.



Known as the capital of the French Riviera, Nice is a cohesive blend of local and tourist-focused interests. As you mooch along the Promenade des Anglais between the bustle of the city and the basking beachgoers on its grey pebbled beach, you might find yourself hankering for an authentic Niçoise salad, loaded with ripe tomatoes, briny olives, and tender tuna washed down with a tart glass, or perhaps a bottle, of local Rosé. From there, head to the colourful Cours Saleya market, and grab some freshly baked socca (a chickpea pancake) laced with ripe fruits and or vegetables. Rosé is everywhere here, but the nerds might want to head to the nearby hills of Bellet, where vineyards overlook the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Here, you can get intimate with the delicate strawberry and citrus flavours that characterise Bellet Rosés. 



As France’s second-largest city, Marseille is a wild melting pot that boasts a culinary scene as diverse and vibrant as its inhabitants. Begin your culinary exploration at the Vieux Port, where fishermen unload their daily catch amid the bustle of the market. Here, you can sample a dizzying array of seafood delicacies including the iconic bouillabaisse. This classic is a rich, heady and fragrant fish and seafood stew loaded with saffron and fennel that will have you loosening the belt well before you can see the bottom of the bowl. For a taste of Marseille’s multicultural influences, venture into the historic neighbourhood of Le Panier, where narrow cobblestone streets are lined with North African spice shops and bustling cafés. To quench your thirst, head to the nearby vineyards of Cassis, where steep limestone cliffs plunge into the azure waters of the Mediterranean. Here, you can sample the region’s renowned Cassis wines, made from the variety Marsanne. 

Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille

Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille.



Nestled between Marseille and Saint-Tropez, Toulon is a hidden gem known for its picturesque harbour and delectable seafood cuisine. Start your culinary journey at le Marché du Cours, Lafayette, where fishermen sell their daily catch straight from the boat. Here, you can feast on platters of freshly shucked oysters, succulent prawns, and briny sea urchins, accompanied by a glass of chilled
Picpoul de Pinet, a crisp white wine from the nearby Languedoc region. Afterward, explore Toulon’s historic Old Town, where narrow cobblestone streets lead to charming bistros and bustling brasseries. Be sure to try the local specialty, bourride, a creamy fish stew flavoured with garlic and saffron, served with a side of crusty baguette for dipping.

Bouillabaisse, an iconic dish for the South of France.

Bouillabaisse, an iconic dish for the South of France.

The fresh, daily produce available at Cours Saleya market in Nice, France.

The fresh, daily produce available at Cours Saleya market in Nice, France.



Renowned for its majestic papal palace and ancient city walls, Avignon is a treasure trove of historical and culinary
delights waiting to be discovered. Begin your gastronomic adventure at Les Halles d’Avignon, a bustling, covered market where local producers showcase their finest fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and charcuterie. Here, you can sample a variety of Provençal specialties, from creamy goat cheese to aromatic truffles, while sipping on a glass of Côtes du Rhône Grenache. Explore the streets of the Old Town, where hidden courtyards and medieval squares are home to some of the city’s best restaurants and wine bars. Be sure to try
the local specialty, pissaladière, a savoury tart topped with caramelised onions, anchovies, and olives, paired with a glass of full-bodied Châteauneuf-du-Pape.



Carcassonne is medieval treasure with turrets and towering ramparts offering a taste of medieval France. Begin your culinary adventure at le Marché de La Bastide, where local artisans sell a variety of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and honey. Here, you can have another cassoulet, paired with a glass of robust Minervois red shaped by Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Carignanor, even Piquepoul Noir. 

Fortified wall surrounding the city of Carcassonne in France.

Fortified wall surrounding the city of Carcassonne in France.

Rosé rules the South of France

Rosé rules the South of France.



Situated near the border with Spain, Perpignan is a beautiful blend of French and Catalan cultures, reflected in its incredible culinary scene. Begin your gustatory journey at the Marché Saint-Charles, where local vendors sell a tantalising array of fresh produce, cheeses, and cured meats. Here, you can sample Catalan specialties such as boutifarra sausage, calcots onions, and crema catalana; a creamy custard dessert flavoured with orange zest and cinnamon that really hits the spot for sweetooths. Afterward, explore the city’s historic centre, where narrow cobblestone streets lead to hidden squares and sun-drenched terraces. Be sure to try a local version of paella with a glass of crisp Côtes du Roussillon wine. 

The wines of the South of France epitomise the region's rich cultural tapestry and centuries-old winemaking traditions.

- Paul Diamond



Nestled in the heart of Provence, Aix-en-Provence enchants visitors with its picturesque streets, charming markets, and rich heritage. Renowned for its vibrant café culture, it’s a charming town full of sun-dappled squares where locals and visitors alike gather to savour a simpler, slower pace of life. Take a stroll along the Cours Mirabeau, lined with elegant plane trees and bustling cafés offering a taste of the region’s lovely wines and cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the vibrant markets, where fragrant herbs, ripe fruits, and artisanal cheeses beckon from every corner. 

The ubiquitous vine and village vista of Provence in France.

The ubiquitous vine and village vista of Provence in the South of France.



The wines of the south of France epitomise the region’s rich cultural tapestry and centuries-old winemaking traditions, showcasing the diverse terroir and varietals that have made it a global viticultural powerhouse. Seek out Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre blends in Côtes du Rhône for robust reds brimming with dark fruit and spice. For refreshing whites, turn to the crisp acidity of Viognier and Roussanne in wines from Languedoc-Roussillon. And don’t miss the iconic Provence Rosés, crafted from Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre, offering delicate floral aromas and vibrant fruit flavours. Whether sipping by the Mediterranean or amidst rolling vineyards, these wines embody the essence of southern French terroir and its unique relationsh

Words by
Paul Diamond
Published on
20 Mar 2024


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Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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