Provence Feature


An Appetite for Provence

Ever wondered what it might be like to cook in Julia Child's kitchen? Or look at fresh vegetables with a local's eye? With a food history as richly varied as its produce, Provence is the ideal place to expand your culinary repertoire by signing up for some cooking lessons.

At a time when "fresh" and "seasonal" are the words on every food-lover’s lips, Provençal cooking has never looked more modern—even if many of the most popular recipes are centuries old. Vividly colored vegetables and olive oils—tasting of artichokes, almonds, or freshly cut grass—form the basis of most meals, with meat or fish often a secondary ingredient. Most sessions involve several days of classes with accommodation included, but day programs are also available, such as Les Petits Farcis’s classes and tours in Nice. However long the program, you will leave with a deeper knowledge of southern French culture and a taste for market-fresh produce that will never fade. No wonder Provençal cooking holidays have never been more popular. —Rosa Jackson

Matisse Shopped Here

Founded in 1861, the Cours Saleya is one of the most atmospheric outdoor markets on the French Riviera. Wander and savor, just like Matisse (whose apartment overlooked the market), such specialties as pissaladière (caramelized onion tart) and socca (a chickpea-flour pancake). Recognizable by their smaller stalls, farmers sell the freshest local produce.

Cooking with Friends

If you loved the film Julie & Julia, treat yourself to a week of classes in Julia Child’s old kitchen under the guidance of Kathie Alex. Weathered copper pots dangle from hooks over the workstation where Alex studied with Simca Beck (famed coauthor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking). The course of classic favorites starts with Sunday dinner and ends with Saturday breakfast, with cooking classes in the mornings and free time in the afternoon. (No address listed: too many people drop by to see Julia Child's kitchen.) 562/221–1417 $2,650 per person Schedule varies.

Les Petits Farcis

Longtime food writer Rosa Jackson runs market tours and cooking classes in the heart of Nice's Old Town. Classes begin at a café facing the market, before an informative tour during which Rosa picks up seasonal produce from small farmers for the day’s class. Then it’s a short walk to her 17th-century apartment, with lessons in traditional Niçoise cooking, which has a strong Italian influence. Each class ends with a convivial lunch that includes a platter of local cheeses. 7 rue du Jésus, Nice 06–81–67–41–22 From €195 per person Year-round.

Mas de Cornud

Nito Carpita and her personable husband, David, run this cooking school from their home; you can come on a Wednesday for a market tour, cooking class, and lunch or, instead, sign up for several days of cooking lessons. Nito regularly brushes up her skills at professional schools all over the world and her kitchen has 10 well-equipped workstations. The focus is on traditional Provençal cooking, and guest chefs have included the likes of Jacques Pépin. 7 petite rte. des Baux, St-Rémy-de-Provence 04–90–92–39–32 From €155 per person Apr.–early July and Sept.–mid-Oct.

Provence Cooks

Madeleine and Erick Vedel run two separate businesses: Madeleine’s hiking and biking tours with a focus on food and local artisans, and Erick’s one-day cooking classes. Their location in Avignon means that they have access to the finest produce, seafood, and Côtes du Rhône wines. Erick’s classes involve three hours of cooking, during which students prepare four to six typically Provençal dishes for lunch or dinner. 1041 chemin des Vendages, Avignon 06–88–50–03–62 From €250 for 1 or 2 people Year-round.

Updated: 2014-04-21

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