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Spanish Paella in Provence

Spanish Culture in Provence

It is easy to believe yourself in Spain when visiting the south of France in summer. At almost all village festivals, Abrivados and fêtes votives, Camargue cowboys run their white horses and bulls through the streets in their traditional colourful attire. Women wear beautiful Soleiado or flamenco dresses, and the irresistible music of the Camargue gypsies and frequent cries of Olé can be heard everywhere. We all think of ourselves as Spanish, then. Most of all, the wine flows freely, and every restaurant offers Paella menus.  Not perhaps the authentic Valencian version, made with snails and rabbits. This version contains everything to please everyone – from chicken and chorizo to squid (or, more often, cuttlefish), prawns and mussels, all cooked with delicious saffron-flavoured rice.

Making Paella

But we don’t have to wait for a summer festival to make Paella – we can make it all year round. And we don’t even have to stick to the ultimate Spanish decree that the dish should never be served after sunset and should always be made by a man!

For authenticity’s sake, you might want to invest in a paellera, a low, wide, inexpensive pan – though it can be made in any low flat pan.

Spanish Paella Provence Finished

Paella Recipe

blankPetra Carter
Although paella is considered a Spanish dish it is very common to find it at markets in Provence. The vendor cooks up their version of this hearty rice dish in a paellera. The exact cooking time will depend on your ingredients and how long the rice takes to cook.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French, Provencal, Spanish
Servings 8 people


  • 8 chicken thighs and 8 drumsticks skin-on, bone-in
  • olive oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) chorizo sliced into ½ cm rounds
  • 1-2 Onions cut in wedges
  • 2 large pinches of saffron
  • 2 1/2 L (10.5 cups) Chicken stock
  • 4 Squid or 2 Medium Cuttlefish chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Peppers cut into strips or pieces
  • 2 handfuls of Fresh or Frozen Peas
  • 1 tsp, heaping Paprika smoked or dulce
  • 700 g (3 cups) Round-grained Paella Rice
  • 16 large Raw Shell-on king prawns from sustainable sources
  • 700 g (3 cups) Mussels cleaned
  • 1/2 bunch Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley
  • 2 lemons


  • Start by frying the chicken pieces in a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-hot flame, until nicely browned.
  • Remove the chicken from the frying pan and arrange on the cold paella pan.
  • In the same frying pan, fry the chorizo slices with the onion wedges for a few minutes, then remove from the pan and add to the chicken in the still-cold paella pan.
  • Meanwhile heat the chicken stock, pouring a few tablespoons of it into a small bowl to infuse with the saffron.
  • Finally, briefly fry the squid (or cuttlefish) and the peppers in the frying pan, then add to the chicken, chorizo and onion mixture and spread it all artfully over the surface of the paella pan.
  • Scatter with peas, sprinkle with the paprika and the saffron-infused stock, and finally the rice.
  • Now put the paella pan over high heat and warm through the ingredients for a few minutes.
  • Pour over the hot stock, stir briefly to mix and turn the heat to medium to high, checking continuously that it doesn’t burn, but don’t stir again. After about 10 minutes, turn the heat to medium and artfully place the prawns and mussels on top of the ingredients. Cover the paella pan with aluminum foil and cook until the rice is soft but still has some bite.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with wedges of lemon.


Keyword Chicken, Mussels, Rice, Saffron, Sausage
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Market Day Cotignac Paella Provence

More on Paella in Provence

Read about a midsummer’s eve – La Grande Paella – a festive village dinner and social event.

Saffron like grapes, milk and other natural products is impacted by terroir. Apparently, crocuses grown in North Africa will produce saffron that has a slightly different colour and aroma from that grown in Haute Provence. This spice is one of the most expensive in the world due to the intensely laborious production process. There are roughly four flowers for each bulb, and each bloom has three stigmas. It takes about 200-220 flowers to produce 1 gram of saffron (or between 150-200,000 flowers for 1 kilogram). Discover the story of a saffron grower in Provence’s Jabron Valley.

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Petra Carter

Petra Carter

Petra Carter is the smiling face behind the cooking school Le Pistou. The cookery school is centrally located in Uzès, right next to the tourist office and steps away from the main boulevard. The one-time garage was wholly transformed into a bright, lofted space equipped explicitly for cooking classes.

This lady - previously the food-editor of Irish Tatler - has developed several options for classes at le Pistou Cookery School. There are workshops and multi-day classes where students dive into the magic of cooking with flavours of the South of France.

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