French food markets are legendary. They are amazing places to try local fruit, vegetables, baked goods and home-made produce. The Marché Forville is the largest covered market in in Cannes, located near the famous La Croisette promenade and at the foot of the historic quarter of Le Suquet.
It is a local institution and a delight to wander. From fragrant lavender to fresh figs, olives and spices to fresh breads and aromatic olive oil, there is a lot to enjoy here.
While at the market do sample some of the huge array of cheeses available. With over 400 varieties France is renowned for some of the world’s best cheeses. Cheese is taken very seriously in France with a separate course devoted to cheese even at informal dinner parties. One French proverb says “A meal without cheese is like a day without sunshine.”
In most French restaurants a cheese course is offered between the main and dessert courses and you have the choice to order a full platter of soft, semi-cured, pressed and blue cheeses, or just one or two.
With all that Mediterranean coastline and all the fishing boats it is no surprise that the French Riviera is the perfect place to find the most amazing seafood. Wherever your luxury charter yacht is moored there is likely to be a fish market nearby.
This just-landed seafood attracts some of the best chefs in the world and along with a clientele of prosperous, epicurean locals and tourists it is easy to see why there are so many Michelin starred restaurants along this gorgeous seaside strip, and a good reason why at least once you should leave the pampering of your personal crew and try one of the fabulous restaurants ashore.
One of the most prized seafoods in France is the lobster or homard. While there are many ways to serve this delicacy probably the most time-honoured dish is the Lobster Thermidor. The lobster is sautéed in wine or brandy then combined with a rich and sumptuous creamy egg-based sauce and served in the shell. This classic French dish is as luxurious as it sounds!
The other seafood that deserves a special mention is the oyster. Oysters have been part of the French diet since pre-Roman times and again the French take their oysters very seriously with French restaurants often offering a wide variety of choices based on size, shape and origin. Whether you’re an aficionado or are eager to try a new gastronomic delicacy there’s nothing quite like sitting in the sun overlooking the sea and eating French oysters.
The French Riviera is fortunate to have an incredible climate that is perfect for grape growing. It is world renowned for producing multi-award winning wine. The area is home to a large number of different wine due to the different soils, altitude and grape varieties grown. In the past it has been known mostly for its rosés however in more recent years there has been considerable focus on high quality reds as well.
The largest wine region is called Côtes the Provence, located roughly between Toulon and Fréjus. The main grape varieties used in this region are Grenache and Carignan, which produce the bulk of the rosé wine. However there are vineyards all along this coast with some very well respected estates in the area surrounding Nice, including Domaine De Toasc, Château de Bellet and Château de Cremat.
In addition to wine the French Riviera is the home of a classic aperitif, pastis made from anise and assorted plants and herbs, and always diluted with water to turn from clear to a cloudy light yellow. From the working waterfront bars of Marseille to the charming cafes in quaint villages; in the hands of old men playing petanque in town square to the tables of fashionistas in trendy restaurants, you’ll find narrow glasses of cloud-colored pastis everywhere.
One of the most expensive food items in the world truffles, and not the dessert kind, are a revered gourmet ingredient for chefs and food-lovers worldwide. Truffles are a fungi found underground in the shadow of oak and hazelnut trees and come in sizes ranging from a walnut to a fist.
They have a subtle but pungent and earthy aroma and add a umami flavour that is sure to wow. They pair beautifully with eggs, cheese and pasta, and there is something sublime about the simplicity of truffle butter spread on freshly toasted sourdough baguette.
The French love their canard (duck) recipes and it features highly in many forms on many menus. Foie gras is the much-prized delicacy made of the duck (or goose) liver. It is prepared into a mousse, pate or parfait and has a rich buttery taste.
Confit du canard is considered one of the finest of French dishes. The meat is salted and then slow roasted until meltingly tender. Another French classic that has been served for centuries is Duck a l’Orange. The slightly sweet sour taste created by the union of bright, zesty orange with the richness of the duck is delicious.
Some Local Specialties to Try:
Although the principal ingredient of tapenade is olives, this Provencal paste takes its name from "tapeno" or capers another of the key ingredient. Although only invented in Marseilles in the 19th century this timeless combination of anchovies, olives and capers has quickly established itself as a classic appetiser. Traditionally tapenade was made with the small black olives native to Provencal however today it is also made with green olives with the additional flavours of garlic, herbs, lemon or brandy.
Referred to as "the butter of Provence" aioli holds such an important place in the region's cuisine that local villages honour it in local festivals or "fete de la grande aioli". It is the name of both the garlic mayonnaise and the Provencal feast where it accompanies cooked and raw vegetables, salt cod, seafood and snails.
This classic French seafood stew originated from Marseille fishermen using the bony rockfish which they were unable to sell to markets or restaurants. It is loaded with clams, lobster and fish in a broth delicately flavored with fennel, saffron and pastis, a licorice-flavored aperitif. The broth is traditionally served with a spicy rouille, a mayonnaise-style sauce made with cayenne, garlic, bread crumbs and olive oil served on grilled slices of bread. It is the perfect finishing touch to a delicious dish.
This dish literally has dozens of interpretations and its ingredients are the subject of much debate. It originated in Marseille as a simple dish of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil. Since then hard boiled eggs, tuna (canned or fresh) and black olives have been added and are now considered traditional. However there are many other ingredients that may be added including green beans to artichokes and boiled potatoes. In whatever form your Salade Niçoise takes you know it will be fresh and delicious.
You probably have heard of ratatouille, a culinary specialty of Nice. It is a classic French stewed vegetable dish which typically includes eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers stewed together with herbs and spices or sautéed separately and combined later. As with any generic recipe there is no specific recipe but guiding principles with many modern variations using these ingredients.
For further information about the French Riviera and the luxury charter yachts available there please contact the Mediterranean specialists at Luxury Charter Group.