A Guide to Tasting the Best Truffles in the South of France

Truffles are highly prized in the south of France
Truffles are highly prized in the south of France | © Eaters Collective / Unsplash
Alex Ledsom

Not to be confused with the chocolate kind, truffles are a fungi found under the soil in the French countryside, and a highly prized gourmet ingredient for chefs and foodies all over the world. Find out how they are grown, what they are used for and where to eat them in the South of France.

Don’t Confuse Chocolate Truffles With Fungi Truffles

Truffles mean different things to different chefs: pastry chefs will think about the chocolate kind, while other chefs will go gooey-eyed at the prospect of the fungal variety. Chocolate truffles were first created in France in the 19th century and were given their name because they looked like the mushroom truffle, which is a fungi, and looks rather ruffled and crumpled when it is found in the countryside. Chocolate truffles have a ganache centre, and are rolled into a ball, coated with chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder. So, not at all the same – but both are delicious!

Truffles, southern French style

Fungi Truffles Are Found Under the Ground

The black Perigord truffle, cut in half

Truffles Were Traditionally Found by Pigs and Now by Dogs

Truffles in France were traditionally hunted down by pigs. To female pigs, truffles smell like testosterone, so they are the best truffle hunters. Dogs are used today, as pigs would sometimes eat everything they found and ruin the truffle beds. The animal paws the ground when it has found a truffle, but more often it sniffs it out with its mouth and the tracker grabs it quickly. The dogs used in the south of France are usually not purebred dogs. They are chosen for their great capacity to smell the truffle (the fungi spores begin to smell strongly when it’s the right time for them to be harvested, and that is why animals are relied on more than humans to tell when they are ready to be picked). Once discovered, a portion of the truffle is put back into the ground so that it can repopulate the earth with fungal spores that will grow again the following year.

Pigs were traditionally used for hunting truffles

The South Of France Has Perfect Truffle-Growing Conditions

Truffle eating became popular in the Royal Court in the 18th century, but the truffles were very hard to cultivate. No one realised the relationship between their smell and when to harvest them, or their symbiosis with trees, until the 19th century. The south of France has sweet limestone soil and the necessary hot, dry climate in which truffles thrive, and huge tracts of land were planted for truffle cultivation. Most truffles are now cultivated. The Périgord region in southwest France is associated with truffles, as is the Luberon in inland Provence. In these places, traditional truffle hunting with animals and trackers is hugely popular.

The inside of a truffle

Truffles Are Some of the Most Sought-After Foods in the World

Truffles are incredibly expensive, because of the intensive way in which they need to be harvested. The largest one in the world was found in 2014 in Italy and went to auction in New York, where Chinese bidders offered $1 million for it. As soon as they are taken out of the ground, truffles begin to evaporate water and become dry. For this reason, they’re sent to markets and restaurants immediately, adding to the high cost.

Truffles are often used in fresh pasta dishes

The Top Places to Go to Eat Amazing Truffles

If you are going to go anywhere for truffles, the undisputed place to go in the south of France is the restaurant Chez Bruno in Lorgues. It’s set in the countryside, halfway between Nice and Aix-en-Provence. This Michelin-starred restaurant incorporates truffles into every dish in some way. Menus start at €76 and stretch up to €193. In Carpentras, northeast of Avignon, you can head to Chez Serge, renowned for its Autumnal Truffle Bistrot, which is reasonably priced at €21 for a truffle omelette or starting at €69 for the truffle menu.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article