Its sun-drenched land and its valleys carpeted with orchards, lavender fields and olive trees make Provence an unmissable culinary destination.

In addition to tapenade, aioli, ratatouille and bouillabaisse, Provençal cuisine has lesser-known wonders, to be discovered urgently during your stay in the region. From Nice to Avignon, via the Alpilles and the Luberon, here are five local specialties that will amaze your taste buds.

La socca in Nice

A tourist emblem of Nice, this famous pancake made from chickpea flour, olive oil and salt is eaten hot, straight out of the oven, in many restaurants in the city. Thin and crunchy, the socca is cooked on large tinned copper plates before being cut into six to eight pieces. Both crunchy and soft, it is particularly appreciated as an aperitif or for a snack during a stroll in town. Among the most popular addresses in Nice are At Pipo (13 rue Bavastro), La Socca d’Or (45 rue Bonaparte), Chez Theresa (Cours Saleya stand) and La Socca (215 avenue de la Californie).

Aubergine papeton in Avignon

Made from eggplant caviar and beaten eggs and served with a fresh tomato coulis, aubergine papeton is an Avignon specialty. Also called “aubergine des Papes”, it takes its name from the papal tiara-shaped mold in which it is cooked. This summer recipe dates back to the 14th century when the cook of Pope John XXII, whose palace was then in Avignon, imagined this flan inspired by Italian cuisine. Also to be tasted in the region: crespeou, a cake of omelets, herbs and vegetables that can be eaten cold, as an aperitif or as a starter, with a tomato coulis or a basil sauce.

Arles sausage

Sausages from Arles
Sausages from Arles © Wikimedia

The Arles sausage is a charcuterie from Bologna which was imported to Arles in 1655 by the Arlesian charcutier Godart. At the time called sosisol, the original recipe was a mixture of lean donkey meat, pork and beef, pork fat, salt and spices, but donkey meat was gradually abandoned. 15 to 20 cm long and weighing around 300 grams, Arles sausage is still found today at la Farandole, run by the Genin family (11 rue des Porcelets).

The pignolat of Nostradamus, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Nostradamus pignolat is a pastry specialty from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in the Bouches-du-Rhône, made from pine nuts, sugar, rose water and fennel. Inspired by the recipe mentioned in the Treaty of jams and fardements, written by Nostradamus in 1552, this cake was brought up to date by Anne and Hermann Daguin, owners of the pastry shop. The Little Duke (7 boulevard Victor-Hugo), who are committed to reworking ancestral sweet recipes that have fallen into oblivion.

The galapian d’Apt

A galapian d'Apt
Un galapian d’Apt © OPetitMarseillais

It was in 1994 that this cake made with mill flour from the country of Apt, ground almonds, eggs, sugar, lavender honey and candied fruits was born, as part of ‘a competition organized by the Confrérie du fruit confit d’Apt. Created by master pastry chef Alain Bouchard (34 rue des Marchands), galapian perpetuates the tradition and art of confectionery (a technique of preserving fruit by sugar, attested from Antiquity) which has earned the city of Apt the title of world capital of candied fruit. Today, this cake is sold in most pastry shops in the city and is eaten mainly at tea time or for afternoon tea.

Melanie Rostagnat reporter