10 Best Local Foods from the South of France

Updated: Mar 15, 2019

Whenever I go to France, I make sure that all the boxes from my food "must have" list are checked. I better not miss one or I will feel like my trip was kind of "nahhh."

I don't want to sound presumptuous (well maybe a little) but I have to say, that French Food is one of the best cuisine in the whole wide world because of the textures, colors and complex flavors you find in many recipes. Don't get me wrong, I'm also a big fan of Asian, Indian, and Latin cuisine but French food is vital for me.

There is no doubt that eating is a part of the French culture. It is not even just about the act of eating, or what it is to eat, but also the whole preparation and rituals around it that makes it so special.

Each region, and even each town, has a star dish to be proud of. In this article today, I would like to list 10 local dishes YOU must try, if you go to Nice this summer!

Did you know that most of the dishes listed below were originated in Nice, et oui Madame?!

I hope you enjoy this list. You might learn some recipes, stories, and where to find them :)

PS: because I can't choose my favorite, this list is not in order.

#1: Farcis Nicois

What is it?

Farcis Nicois is typically a dish you will eat during summer time although you can find it all year long but for some reasons it just tastes better in summer time!

Originally it was mainly composed of onions, tomatoes, zucchini, stuffed with meat (pork, veal, beef or both) and cooked in the oven. You can include more vegetables

such as potatoes, eggplants.

This is very simple to prepare and an almost fail-proof recipe (although you could burn it...Yes, I speak from experience!). This is a make-ahead dish that can be enjoyed at room temperature or hot.

Here is how Papie Cook makes it:

For 6 persons

2 red bell peppers

2 green bell peppers

2 eggplants

2 white onions

2 zucchinis

3 tomatoes

500 grams of ground beef ( +/- 1/2 lbs)

1 egg

2 slices of white bread

1 glass of milk

2 cloves of garlic

1 whole parsley

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

1 tsp of EVOO

nutmeg to taste

salt to taste

black pepper to taste

Pre heat oven at 200 degree celsius ( 400 degree farenheit)

1- Peel off the onion skin, cut off the ends of the zucchinis and blanch the eggplant for 5 minutes in the pressure cooker filled with salted water.

2- Mix the ground beef. Add parsley and garlic with an entire egg. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste (abt.1 tsp).

3- Wet the sliced bread with the milk and incorporate it in the ground beef.

4- Dig the vegetables. Incorporate the inside of the tomatoe in the ground beef mixture as a final step.

5- Fill in the meat mixture into the holes made in the veggies.

6- Place the yummy vegetables in a baking pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and slightly pour EVOO over each vegetable.

7- Cook to a pre heated oven for 25 minutes. Let it rest and serve with a nice side salad and fresh rose wine.

Bon appetit!

#2: Socca

This is in the appetizers category. If you go to Nice and you don't try Socca, girl, you will miss out! It is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower (ok, that may be a slight exaggeration).

Often found in the food trucks, or in some restaurants in the old Nice, Socca is something you eat in between dinners, or during a walk...

What is it?

It is a chick pea crepe. The secret is to add a good amount of black pepper that enhance the flavor. It is to die for! It is one of the thing that you can't stop eating.

It is served on a plate and broken down in pieces, making it easy to eat.

Where to find it:

Adresse: Chez Pipo Restaurant

#3: Aioli

Oh my god!!! Dilicious (not a typo mistake, I just say it like that lol)! This dish is a must-try! Also, a summer dish.

How to prepare Aioli:

1- Get fresh mediterranean fish found at the local poissonerie

Anywhere you'll go, you'll find one. They are so beautifully displayed and fresh that you just want to grab it all. Good to know: Ask your fish salesman, a"poissonnier," to prepare a whole platter of seafood. It will cost somewhere between 30 euros to maybe 50 euros.

And speaking of seafood platters, if you are in Menton, please check out this restaurant. It is worth every penny. Friendly staff, fine food, amazing ambiance. Last year, I had a seafood platter for 30 euros, it was amazing!

Back to "how to prepare Aioli"

Usually cooked with white fish which is similar to sea bass or any other mediterranean fish.

2- Boil vegetables, leaks, navets, potatoes, eggs

3- Prepare the Aioli. The secret weapon. The star of the dish. The magnificent delicacy. Don't buy it, make it....Seriously, it takes no time to prepare it.

4- Put the Aioli sauce in a ramequin. Place your boiled vegetable on a plate, enjoy and please don't kiss your significant one after eating (no kidding)!

#4: Beignet de fleur de courgette (zucchini flower beignet)

This is also in the appetizers category. I HAVE to eat them every time I go to France in summer. I'm addicted to them!

Very easy to prepare but please don't mind the calories because you are on vacation, plus you can go hiking another day!

There are a variety of recipes out there—some need sparkling water, some don't. I used to put eggs, what a mistake! I recently tried some without eggs and they were so good. Much crispier. I gave up the eggs ever since, but I added fresh mint. It enhances the flavor, adds freshness... perfect for a hot summer dinner.

You can pair it with nice side salade frise and a fresh rose wine et voila....

Here is link for a great beignet recipe.

Or watch them being prepared at Restaurant Chez Marius in France!

#5: Tapenade

This is a spread. My mom is the queen of tapenade. Made from black olives but not just any black olives, NO! The Olives from Nice, also know as "Olive Nicoise", s'il vous plait! (Visit your local Whole Food store—they should have them.)

Better eaten on a piece of warm crafted baguette, Tapenade is served during appetizers, just before lunch or dinner with a glass of wine or pastis (local adult beverage).

This is something you can put together in no time when you have your neighbors over and want to look fancy.

You can serve it on a platter with carrots, celery and voila!

#6 Salade Nicoise

Originating in Nice, this salad made it big. We can find this type of salad anywhere from LA to China. According to the traditionalist/purist technique, this summer salad excludes any boiled vegetables! This salad only uses raw, crisp and colorful vegetables.

The dressing is simply made with olive oil, vinegar, mustard and herbs.

If you want to eat this salad the traditional way, you can learn how to prepare it in this cookbook written by the former mayor of Nice, Jacques Medecin.

La bonne cuisine du comté de Nice

# 7 Filet de rouget

This fish is found in our Mediterranean Sea. An excellent source of protein, this low fat fish is excellent. There are many ways to prepare and eat this fish but always make sure to avoid it raw and check that you don't have any food allergies before eating any type of fish.

More info on rouget: French or English

Recipe Rouget "tunisian style"

Pre heat oven 30-45 at 200 degrees cel. (400-410 degrees F.)

1- Cover the fish filets with a mix of salt, coriander seeds, small hot peppers, fennel seeds and cumin.

2- Sizzle them in a pan for 5 to 8 minutes on each side flipping the fish one time.

3- Stuff the fish with fresh coriander leaves, ginger and cut garlic (options: stuff it with cooked celery and onions. Sprinkle fish with Paprika).

Add coconut milk and cook it about 10 minutes.

4- Finish cooking the fish in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes. Garnish with green onions or chives.

#8 Pan Bagnat

This is a typical sandwich from the South of France that is perfect during summer. This is the type of sandwich that families prepare for a picnic on the beach.

Adored by kids and adults, this sandwich is loaded with flavor. The most significant flavor in this sandwich is the celery. The traditional Pan Bagnat is served on a round bread! I refuse to eat it in a regular baguette and so should you! If you eat it, eat it right :)

This is composed of hard boiled eggs, tuna, celery, tomatoes, onions, olives, anchovies, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, and THAT'S IT.

Sometimes, simple things are the best!

Where can you find it:

Almost anywhere. In supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, food trucks. Ask locals or check trip advisors to find where to buy it.

Have you tried this sandwich in Nice? Let us know your favorite place in the comments below.

#9: Ratatouille

SO GOOD that it deserved its own movie. Also, from Nice, this vegetable stew is named in its Provencal language (La Ratatouia Nissarda). A summer must have!

It is very versatile dish to eat. It is one those dish that keeps on tasting better the day after and the day after that.

Tips for the leftover ratatouille:

Crack an egg the day after and serve it as an omelette and side green salade. Mix the left over with cooked spaghetti, sprinkle with cheese.Yum!

Main vegetables: Zuchini, eggplant, tomotoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, bay leave, thyme or herbe de provence, marjoram

(By the way, a dried herbs mix could be a great gift idea to bring back to family and friends! Read more about inexpensive, but thoughtful, vacation gift ideas from France in our upcoming article!)

#10: Pizzaladiere (Onion pizza)

This is also an appetizer. Whenever Papie Cook makes it, it just flies off the plate! The dough is thicker than pizza dough, but is soft.

The word "pizzaladiere" comes from the Latin piscis, which later became pissalat (via peis salat-salted fish).

It is composed of caramelized onions, annchovies, thyme, and small black olives "olive nicoise." Serve it warm or cold.

The smell of the freshly-made pissaladiere in the streets of Nice... OMG. It awakes all your senses! Mmmmm.

Et voila, that concludes our "Best Local Foods from the South of France" bucket list!

If you wonder how much weight you might gain after a trip to France, don't you worry! Everything is petite in France, and so are the portions, that's the secret!

I hope you enjoyed our bucket list of French foods! Which one was your favorite? Be sure to share in the comments below!


© 2019 by The Sisterhood of Traveling Ladies.