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French Truffles from Provence

Provence is the largest truffle producing region in France

featured in Local produce Updated

Provence used to produce 1000 tonnes of truffles each year. Now, thanks to deforestation and a focus on vineyards, the production is down to 30-60 tonnes, which is around 80% of all the truffles produced in France.

Truffles are a fungus - an underground mushroom so to speak. They require limestone soils, a warm climate and a nice tree (usually oak) in which to grow under.

Truffle hunting season lasts from November to March and these days, dogs are used to hunt them down rather than pigs, who were perhaps a little too fond of the truffle themselves. The most prized truffle is the 'truffe du Perigord' or melanosporum tuber. Chefs adore them, and winter menus are stuffed full of dishes containing the 'black diamonds'.

You can buy them in markets throughout Provence but beware of cheaper imitations such as the 'truffe de Borgogne'. The best markets to visit include St Paul Trois Chateaux, Richerenches, Carpentras and Valreas. Truffle festivals are also held in Richerenches (January), Menerbes (December) and Carpentras (February).