One of the great delights of visiting Provence is the prospect of settling down at an outdoor café for a café au lait, a pression (beer from the tap), a Pernod or a simple Orangina.
There is no better way to round off a morning at a busy market or start an evening with a group of friends. In Provence with its abundant sunshine, the outdoor is almost always available and almost always inviting.
Unfortunately - especially in the high season - we see more and more cafés set their tables around lunch time or in the evening, thereby turning themselves into a brasserie rather than a true café. You can try to insist on being a customer of a café and just order a drink. But often the proprietor will make it clear that you need to eat as well as drink. Otherwise, what's the point of the cutlery and paper placemats?
Still, there are plenty of cafés in Provence that are true to their origins. Some are tiny, others are huge. Drinks only, sandwich maybe, but not standard. At Sénéquier in Saint-Tropez, you can have a pastry with your tea or coffee, but you need to get up and buy it yourself at the patisserie in the alley behind.
For the dedicated café traditionalist there's the Mordus des Cafés historiques et partimonieux d'Europe, an association that strives to preserve traditional cafés in Europe. Cafés that have been in existence as such for at least 80 years, cafés that are convivial, without televisions or game machines. In Provence a number of cafés have been approved by the association. You can find some of these selected cafes in our Cafes, Delis & Juice Bars listings.
Modern delicatessens are opening up all over the place now, but are especially popular in the more affluent areas of St Remy, Aix & Avignon. They offer a range of local produce, including olives, saucisson, preserves and pastries and some will sell a range of local wines.