A voyage of discovery : Alpes Maritimes

27-04-2018
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Franceagroalimentaire.com continues its journey of discovery around France’s regions.

Here we introduce the very best of France; take a stroll through its picturesque towns and villages, savouring the finest gastronomy, culinary traditions and local specialities brimming with local heritage.

 

Alpes Maritimes – what’s the story ?

La Promenade des Anglais, Nice, Alpes Maritimes

Alpes Maritimes is a department in the southeast corner of France defined by the influence of the mountainous Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. The French Riviera, aka the Cote d’Azur, is known the world over for the cultural influence of Nice and its famous Promenade des Anglais. Further north, mountains dominate the landscape with its towering massif, and even in the foothills of Grasse.  Here the landscape is as diverse as the local cuisine, which is well-known for its sunny, Mediterranean flavours.

 

Menton lemons, the symbol of a region

With their bright yellow skins packed with essential oils and elliptical shape, Menton lemons are the pride of the entire department. Grown and celebrated every year in the town of the same name, the lemons are a particular favourite among top-name chefs. Around fifteen specialist citrus growers cultivate the fruit in and around Menton, Roquebrune, Saint-Agnès and Castellar.

 

 

AOP Bellet : the wine of a region

The vineyard, which gained its appellation controlee (AOC) back in 1941, is made up of a collection of family vineyards in the hills of Bellet. Enjoyed by Louis XIV and the President Thomas Jefferson, the wines have earned their stripes on the world’s finest dining tables. In the heart of the Mediterranean in the commune of Nice, the vineyards are blessed with a particular micro-climate created by their lofty position and the local Mistral and Tramontane winds which blow almost constantly throughout the valley. White wines, characterised by their floral, spicy style, are made essentially from the local Rolle grape variety, and Chardonnay. Voluptuous reds and original, elegant rosés are made from Folle noire, Grenache and Cinsault.

 

Mediterranean cuisine

Pictures of @germonprechris – The salade niçoise and pissaladière are famous abroad !

Known for its five valleys and picturesque villages perched upon high, the characteristic flavours, traditions and cooking styles closely affiliated to this most unique region have been honed over time. While the local “cuisine nissarde” is an undeniable reference, beyond the famed destination of Nice, visitors soon recognise a myriad of variations influenced by the surrounding towns, villages and ancestral traditions; think beignets (doughnuts), farcis (flavoursome stuffed vegetables) and barbejuans, (tasty cheese pastries), to name but a few of the most celebrated. Today, the region’s speciality foods and associated destinations are promoted through the original “Bistrots de pays” concept, which shines a light on local production, organic producers, innovative chefs and restaurateurs and others working in the food sector, together with all the artists and artisans responsible for making this such a unique region.

 

Michelin-starred fame : Christophe Martin

It was a meteoric rise to fame for Alain Ducasse’s protégé Christophe Martin, who cut his teeth at Monte Carlo’s Louis XV restaurant. The esteemed French chef subsequently took over the reins at “La Bastide de Moustiers Sainte-Marie”, where he strut his culinary magic for 5 years. And in 2018, at Lou Cigalon restaurant in Valbonne, the former home of chef Alain Parodi, Christophe Martin received his first Michelin star, having only taken up residency last spring.  Here the chef specialises in “rural and elegant” cuisine; simple, flavoursome cooking that relies on quality ingredients, favouring small, local producers. On the menu, featuring alongside other refined fare, local petits pois and caille de brebis (tangy sheep’s milk yoghurt), salt-cured cod served with Provence asparagus or rump of veal from Hautes-Alpes. The restaurant is a great destination to discover the countryside around Nice and the region’s gastronomic delights.

 

Alpes Maritimes in numbers

Region : Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur

Prefecture : Nice

Population : 1, 082, 440 habitants

Agriculture : France’s leading lemon producer

Getting here : By train, Paris – Nice in 5h 45 minutes. By air, from Paris CDG in 1h 22 minutes.