You may not have a year, but why not spend a glorious spring evening in Provence with our casual family dinner, inspired by a lazy country afternoon at La Bastide de Marie in Ménerbes. Famously relaxed, colorful and synonymous with great food, wine and the good life, Provençal dining is less about storybook kitchens and touristy china, and more about family, friends, living in the moment and enjoying the bounty of the season.
For a region that positively glows with Michelin Stars, true Provençal food is gloriously simple, yet rich in flavor. Little ones will love dipping veggies into traditional Provençal sauces, mopping up savory tomatoey sauce with crusty bread, and digging their spoons into the soft sweetness of a warm cherry clafoutis paired with an oozy scoop of pistachio ice cream.
Le Plat Principal (Main Course)
A rich and savory Poulet Provençal , eaten with crusty bread to mop up the complex, aromatic tomato, fennel and olive sauce.
A warm and traditional Cherry Clafoutis, served with store bought pistachio ice cream. If cherries aren’t your thing, try this Rhubarb Raspberry Clafoutis (pictured), served with vanilla bean ice cream.
Think rustic elegance. Provençal style doesn’t always mean an explosion of colored plates and linens. A crisp white tablecloth, and a big vase of simple sunflowers or lavender gives a nod to the relaxed style of the region. If the weather is warm enough to go alfresco, add some glowing lanterns to keep the mood alive as the sun goes down and the kids go to bed.
Up the atmosphere with some cool tunes from Carla Bruni or Django Reinhardt. Create a more modern vibe with this French Pop playlist. Authenticity Note: Traditional Provençal music, just like the food, is quite different from that of Northern France, with a significant Italian influence.
Enjoy our spring dinner with a fruity yet crisp rosé like this 2007/2008 Château d’Aquéria Tavel Rose ($19.29 at wine.com), or a bold and elegant Côtes du Rhône-Villages like the 2007 Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds ($19.99 at wine.com).
Try non-alcoholic options like Lavender Dry Soda , Orangina and Lorina Lemonade (pictured – available in many grocery stores) or mix up a traditional Citron Presse or Diabolo Menthe (7-Up, ice and a little mint syrup), which the kids will love!
Head out to the garden for a spirited game of pétanque/boules. This game is played with a smaller ball than Italian bocce, but you can always use an existing bocce ball set and improvise!
Got some time to yourself? Curl up with anything by Peter Mayle, A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan, Two Towns in Provence by M.F.K. Fisher or escape to storybook France with movies like A Good Year and A Year In Provence.
More Provence reading and cinema here.
The Real Deal
Fly into Marseille or Avignon, and drive to La Bastide de Marie in Ménerbes. This idyllic hotel and spa is set in the heart of the Luberon National Park, which makes it a great base for exploring the region of Provence. Surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and lavender-lined walkways, this bucolic paradise is also highly kid-friendly, with a fenced-in pool, cribs, high chairs, babysitting services and a childrens menu for picky eaters.
–Fiona VanAlstyne is a Hip Travel Mama contributor and Luxe Food&Wine editor.
If you are passionate about food like us, stop by Wanderlust and Lipstick each week for WanderFood Wednesday, where you will find amazing pictures and food that will inspire you to travel the world and bring the world’s cuisine a bit closer in your own kitchen!
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