11 February 2017

Le Riz de Camargue

We've found a new French product that is very good. New to us, that is, but not new to France. People have been growing rice in the Camargue area of southern France for a thousand years. For generations the rice was fed mainly to livestock, it seems, and it only took off as a product for human consumption after World War II. The Camargue is the delta of the Rhône River, west of Marseille and southwest of Provence, on the French Mediterranean coast.

There are at least two varieties of Camargue rice. This one is the red variety, and there's also a brown Camargue rice. (I think there's a black rice variety too.) We've tried both brown and red, and we like both. Now I read in an article from last year that the production of Camargue rice has dropped from 120,000 tons per year to only 70,000 tons over the last few years, partly because of competition from Asian rice producers and importers, and because of reduced French government subsidies for rice growers.

The red Camargue rice takes 25 to 30 minutes to cook. Soaking it for an hour before cooking it seems to shorten the time required. The cooked rice has a pleasantly crunchy texture and a nice taste. We enjoyed eating some with the leftover stew of beef, carrots, onions, and red wine we had for lunch a couple of days ago. The label above says the rice is especially good served with duck (canard) and with game (gibier), seasoned with garlic and aromatic herbs.

Camargue rice was granted an IGP — Indication Géographique Protégée — by European authorities in the year 2000, and French consumers re-discovered it. It's ironic that production has gone into such a steep decline now. One of the advantages of rice production in the Camargue, which basically a coastal salt marsh, is that the rice plants actually desalinate the ground they grow in and can turn it into fertile agricultural land.


  1. Love the Camargue rice...es! Not seen ot tried the brown, tho'.... we use the white, the red and the black... discovered the Red when we were looking for anti-mice tins... it was on offer...we haven't looked back since.....the white is in all the supermarkets, the others we get from Terry Fruits and the All Green Pea.... and there's also a round, Arborio type.....excellent in a risotto!
    I would love to visit the Camargue....the bird life is exceptional....the agriculture pretty unique and then...there are the wild horses!

    1. We get the Camargue rice at Grand Frais in Vineuil, south of Blois. Have you been to the Grand Frais in Tours yet?

    2. No... nor the Paris Store, which we have just located thanks to Goooogle!
      Time is our biggest problem.... especially with Pauline's low energy at the moment....
      Descartes is close by and Chatellerault is closer...by four kilometres.... than Loches....
      so we tend to go there.

  2. I'm curious about the cooking method. Do you cook it in boiling water, and then pour it off, like when one is cooking noodles? Or does it cook in such a way as to absorb all of the water? My French au pair family did the noodle-style method, but that wasn't what I was used to. When I cook rice here, I put it in double the water than rice (so, 2 cups of water for one cup of rice), and bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a very low flame so that it barely simmers, cover it, and cook it 25 minutes for white rice, and about 45 or 50 for brown rice. I usually let it sit with the lid on and the heat off after that amount of time, for another 10 minutes. Then, the rice is tender, and has absorbed all of the liquid.

    Since your label's cooking directions just say to cook it in boiling water, which method do you use?

  3. They look like the wild rice that we can get either from Minnesota or some parts of Canada. Depending on their quality and freshness, sometime it may take more than 30 mins to cook. I usually cook them to mix with other ingredients for turkey stuffing.

  4. I'll have to try this kind of rice. It looks interesting.


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