Var cuisine contains all the ingredients which make Provencal cooking famous - olive oil and honey made from sweet smelling garrigue plants as well as Provencal wines such as the full-bodied reds and roses from around Bandol.
Look for ‘degustation’ signs for tastings. La Domaine de la Pierre Plantee at Ste-Maxime offers a 90 minute tour of their olive groves with tastings at 1000 on Tuesday and Friday mornings from April to Sept.
Most restaurants create Provencal dishes made with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, onions, herbs and there’s a great selection of fish restaurants to choose from along the Cote d’Azur in resorts like St Tropez and Bandol. Try Toulon mussels. Daube de Sanglier (wild boar) a la Provencale is a traditional autumn stew in many parts of Provence including Var.
Fine fruit comes from Frejus - especially peaches - and cherries and figs grow in the hills around Sollies-Pont. The chestnut trees of the Massif des Maures produce fruits for Confiserie Azurienne in Collobrieres including sweet marrons glaces, puree and even chestnut ice cream.
Chestnut fairs selling chestnut jam and honey take place in the autumn at places like la Garde-Freinet and Gonfaron. Even the leaves of sweet chestnut protect Banon goat’s cheese and help give it its flavour.
Subterranean ‘black diamonds’, or truffles, grow naturally amongst the oaks in the forests of Var, prospected by trained pigs and dogs. Markets for these gastronomic delights take place from November to March.
The market at Aups - the third largest in France - takes place on Thursdays from November to February and restaurants offer special truffle menus during the Truffle fair in mid January.