The land where ‘terroir’ is king | Posted: 14 April 2015
Self guided walking holidays in France
Self guided walking holidays in France
Self guided walking holidays in France

The timelessness of Haute Provence, brought so lyrically to life in the novels of Marcel Pagnol ('Jean de Florette' and 'Manon des Sources') is as far removed from the glitz of the French Riviera as it is possible to imagine.

“He put a plate in front of me – two small round goats’ cheeses, specked with herbs... he watched as I cut off a piece of cheese and ate it. It was ferociously strong. My palate had been perfectly primed and the wine tasted like nectar.”

Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence)

This region of gently rolling hills and pretty villages is where the quintessentially French concept of terroir – whereby nuanced flavours reflect the land from which they emerged – rules the roost.

And Pagnol’s hilarious episode in which the Parisian interloper Jean’s ambition to cultiver l’authentique – to go ‘back to nature’ in his new-found rural idyll – is misunderstood by the malevolent-but-clueless Ugolin (who believes ‘othentics’ are some kind of exotic new vegetable) underscores the importance of ‘keeping it real’ to all who live here.

Related Holidays & Further Information

Scents & Flavours of Provence

Experience an enjoyable sensory overload as you spend a week savouring the flavours of Provence while walking through some of the region's most enchanting landscapes.

More about our gastronomic weeks in Provence >

Relax at la Campagne Berne

Spend a leisurely week at the Marine Apartment, la Campagne Berne, near Pierrerue, and let hosts Eric and Bruno guide you to all the best local artisan food producers and village markets.

More about La Campagne Berne >

So when you visit, you can expect to be surrounded by all the fruits, flavours – and indeed scents – of the land, which is brought vividly to life as you wander around. Fragrances of lavender, rosemary and wild thyme pervade the air, while a deliciously simple cuisine – centring on plump red tomatoes and creamy goats' cheese – seduces the palate.

This sensory overload coalesces brilliantly around hill-top Forcalquier on market day, and Eric Delætre-Boulanger, our charismatic hotelier in nearby Pierrerue, considers a short trip into town – should your stay fall on a Monday – as ‘absolument indispensable ’.

While the vibrant weekly market is something of a showcase for the many local artisans, for much of the time they ply their trades amid more tranquil surroundings. In the nearby hamlet of Lurs, you can buy top-quality olive oil direct from the mill in the square; and in Forcalquier itself you could pay a visit to Miel d’Or, a renowned honey producer, or call in at a traditional distillery whose famous Pastis is made from no fewer than 65 types of aromatic plants and spices.

Add to this the much-prized local saffron, and the Unis Verts Paysan, a farmers’ cooperative selling direct to the public, and you can see why Forcalquier has been declared a Site Remarquable du Goût (a Site of Exceptional Taste)!



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