“Food-lovers of all eras have never been able to utter the word ‘truffle’ without tipping their hat”
– Alexandre Dumas
It’s winter in Provence, and one of the consolations of colder days and longer nights is that it is also truffle season. France produces more truffles than any other country, and 80% of them come from Provence. So if you love truffles there is no better place to be at this time of year.
In the middle ages, monks were banned from eating truffles due to their apparent aphrodisiac effect. Today you are free to indulge.
Pigs, dogs and goats are used to hunt for the truffles, though small flies may also mark the spot. The Ancient Greeks believed that a strike of lightning on damp soil created a truffle. In fact they are fungi that grow around the right sort of tree, like an oak, but they were right about the dampness of the soil, as truffles grow best after rain. The location of fertile truffle grounds is highly secretive, you will never be told where to go and look, unless you are being deliberately sent in the wrong direction. Fortunately you can buy truffles more easily than finding them.
You’ll find markets across Provence from November to March with the biggest markets in Carpentras and the small village of Richerences – north of Avignon. Truffle markets are held every weekend throughout the season, along with tastings and demonstrations.
On the third Sunday in January there is even a Truffle Mass in Richerenches- with proceeds going to charity. This is a joyous and typically French affair, presided over by the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Diamond, in their ceremonial cloaks and hats.
During truffle season, many restaurants have special truffle menus in which they create all sorts of uses for the truffle in Provencal dishes, even desserts. Although the classic Provencal dish will always be scrambled eggs with truffle – brouillade aux truffes.
Provence Truffle Markets, running from November to March
Richerenches truffle market: Saturday morning, in avenue de la Rabasse. This is the French capital of truffles.
Carpentras truffle market: Friday mornings, in front of the tourist office. The oldest truffle market in France, dating back to 1155.
Riez truffle market: Wednesday morning.
Valreas truffle market: Wednesday morning.
Aups truffle market: Thursday.
Provence Truffle Festivals
Aups: 4th Sunday of January. With a truffle market, truffle hunting demonstration, truffle dog competition, exhibitions and truffle-based menus at all the village’s restaurants.
Menerbes: late December.
Le Rouret: mid-January.
Rognes: the Sunday before Christmas.
Pernes les Fontaines: late January.
Pelissanne: late January
Carpentras: early February
Off-season is a great time to visit Provence, so take a look at our hand-picked Provence vacation rentals.