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Since the Gard area of France is still an agricultural region of small farms, locally grown produce stars on menus that change daily to showcase the best of the season. Highlights include asparagus in spring; cherries, apricots, peaches and plums in summer; wild mushrooms in fall; and truffles and game in winter.
Le Grau-du-Roi is the second-largest fishing port on the French Mediterranean coastline, and Gard’s seafood, especially octopus, squid, tellines (tiny clams dredged from the delta of the Rhône), razor shell clams, sea bream and sea bass, is exceptionally fresh. Gard also produces excellent olive oil, notably that of Oliveraie Jeanjean in Saint-Gilles, just south of Nîmes. The most distinctive cheese is pélardon, a tangy goat’s milk cheese, served fresh, aged or marinated in olive oil with herbs.
Two traditional Gardoise recipes appear regularly on menus: gardiane de taureau is a stew of Camargue bull’s meat braised in wine, and brandade de morue, a specialty of Nîmes, is a dish of whipped salt cod and potatoes with garlic.
Gard is also a major wine region and produces one of the most famous French rosés, Tavel, which comes from a town of the same name on the west bank of the Rhône, north of Avignon. Made principally from Grenache and Cinsault grapes, Tavel was the first rosé to achieve AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status when the system was introduced in 1935. The Costières de Nîmes, as the vineyards surrounding the city are known, also produces some outstanding wines, including organic ones from the Domaine Gassier in Caissargues, especially the lush, velvety red Grenache de Bek. Indeed, across the region a younger generation of winemakers are also producing excellent wines, notably at the Domaine de L’Aqueduc near Uzès and Domaine Roc d’Anglade in Langlade.
Within the past few years, Gard’s restaurant scene has quietly developed into one of the best and most reasonably priced in France. This is because many talented chefs are forsaking large cities to open restaurants in a region with fine produce, reasonable rents and an excellent quality of life. Here is a selection of our favorites.