Keith Van SickleLocal Food ProducersTaste

Richerenches, The Truffle Capital of the World or at Least Provence

The black truffle season has begun, thrilling chefs the world over.

Black truffles are one of the culinary delicacies of France, and their pungent, earthy taste enlivens many a plate. One classic dish is scrambled eggs with truffles, a simple recipe that lets the flavour of the truffles shine through. Another that highlights the truffle’s flavour is chicken with truffle and mushroom cream sauce.

France produces about half the world’s black truffles, mostly from Provence. They are difficult to farm, so most are foraged in nature, especially among the roots of trees like oak, hazel and chestnut. Traditionally, truffle pigs were used to find them, using their acute sense of smell. But pigs have fallen out of favour because they like to eat the truffles they find! Now truffle hounds are the leading animal used, which don’t find truffles tasty.

Black Diamonds

Because they are rare and hard to find, Provençal truffles are known as black diamonds and are expensive—over $1,000 a pound at retail! With prices like this, it is understandable that truffle hunters jealously guard their favourite hunting grounds, keeping them secret from the competition.

Richerenches, The Truffle Capital

©Tourisme Richerenches –

To find lower prices, consider shopping at one of Provence’s weekly truffle markets, which run from November to March. There are ten (10) main truffle markets, and the most famous is in the small town of Richerenches, the self-styled Truffle Capital.

The market is held on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm, though it is best to get there early. It’s on the Avenue de la Rabasse (rabasse is the Provençal word for truffle.) This year marks the market’s 100th anniversary so it should be lively. It’s fun to wander the market and survey the offerings, sniffing away and then buying if it strikes your fancy. They won’t be cheap, but they will be less expensive than in the fancy shops.

A Special Offering

One highlight of the truffle season in Richerenches is the famous “Truffle Mass” held on the third Sunday of January. It is designed to honor Saint Anthony the Great, patron saint of truffle hunters, and to revere the black truffle. And it is unique because when it comes time for the offering, many congregants put black truffles on the offering plate instead of money.

Richerenches, The Truffle Capital - La mess des truffes

©Tourisme Richerenches –

After the final songs of the mass are sung, members of the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond collect these offerings and leave the church, followed by the congregation. The Brothers solemnly weigh the truffles, which are then auctioned off in front of the mayor’s office, with proceeds going to the church.

La Mess des Truffes
January 21, 2024
The mass starts at 10h30 at l’Église Saint Denis (the doors open at 10h).
For those who do not get a seat in the church, there will be a big screen inside la Maison Templière.
Following the mass and the truffle auction, there is a gourmet feast, with truffles, of course, for approximately 75€. Advanced booking is required.

Here is a video of the truffle mass and auction.

More Recipes with Truffles

Chocolate-Lavender Truffles
A tasteful dessert that comes from Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm. A high-quality product that tastes amazing and is easy to make!
Check out this recipe
Okanagan Lavender Farm Canada
Spaghetti with Eggs and Truffles (Lu Spaghetti a L'Ou)
Truffles are an excellent addition to just about everything. Their earthy flavours marry perfectly with rich, creamy dishes. The pasta recipe comes from disgraced former Nice mayor Jacques Medecin. I may have forgotten the scandals embroiled his career, but I remember his wonderful cookbook celebrating Nicoise cuisine. So I modified the recipe slightly from Jacques Medecin's original.
Check out this recipe
Spagetti Truffle Hunt Pasta
Crushed Black Truffle Mash Potatoes
Easy to make and a really tasty side dish.
Check out this recipe
Searching Black Truffles Chefs Cooking
Mushroom and Black Truffle Omelette
Delicious and easy a quick lunchtime meal or light dinner.
Check out this recipe
Mushroom Truffle Omelette
Risotto with Black Truffles
Risotto is a terrific dinner party dish, easy to prepare in front of your guests while they drink a cocktail.
Check out this recipe
Black Truffle Risotto Recipe

Celebrating 100 Years

At the end of August each year, the Ban des Vendanges occurs in Avignon. This is the official signal to Rhône Valley winemakers that they can begin the grape harvest. In the tiny village of Richerenches, the Ban des Truffes on December 2, 2023, was the official opening of the black truffle market for the 100th year. The market, which started in 1923, is one of the largest black truffle markets in France, with upwards of 700 kg sold during the peak season. Besides black truffles, this town also has the first Knights Templar commandery (circa 1136) in Provence.


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Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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