Before moving to France I’d never heard of the Camargue. I first learned about the region when I went to an Abrivado in my adopted hometown of Uzès. The summer festival featured “wild” black bulls that charged down the middle of the street, held of course by strikingly beautiful white horses. Seeing the amazing creatures, I had to find out more. And of course, I had to discover its food and since food is king in France you can imagine that the Camargue Feria du Riz is a big thing. But more on that in a minute.
What I learned about the Camargue was that the sandy spits of marshlands and pastures that sit at the convergence of the Rhone River and the Mediterranean Sea make up one of the most successfully managed ecosystems for plant and animal life in the world. Over 400 species of birds, along with horses, bulls, flamingos, rice, shrimp, vineyards, and salt fields fill the area that covers approximately 360 square miles. One by one, I’m trying to educate myself.
Today I’m thinking about rice. Red, brown, black, white …there are about forty rice varieties grown in the northern marshes of the Camargue. Red rice is the most famous, especially among the droves of tourists who visit each year. Rice from the region is popular with the French, too. Thirty percent of the rice consumed in France comes from the Camargue. Hence why the Feria du Riz is so important!
Arles’s Feria du Riz
If you want to see and taste and experience the ways Camargue rice is grown and prepared in this part of the world, there’s no better time or place to visit Arles than during the Feria du Riz. The festival is held near the middle of September and marks the end of the region’s ferias or bullfights.
There are parades, concerts, bullfights, horse shows, and a food market with educational displays and booths that offer tastings and sell local products. All this and a heavy dose of French/Spanish tradition.
You’ll find paella of all sorts. Each variety is served from boiling, hot caldrons. Each is made with a different home recipe. There are rice dishes with moules (mussels), calamari with rice, and beef with rice. Rice, rice, and more rice. It’s a festival celebrating the food that has been a staple of the south of France’s diets since the middle ages.
Your Own Taste of France
Let’s Eat The World’s Chef Eric has rice dishes that are typical of France and he’s added his own twist. I urge you to try one — along with a glass of rosé wine, of course. Add some flamenco music then close your eyes and think about the ancient, Roman city of Arles and the Feria du Riz.
For more information on the Arles Festival du Riz, visit BarefootBlogger.FR
Come enjoy the region with us during our Week long French cooking holiday of 5 days of classes, tastings & tours + 7 nights of accommodations in a luxury villa.