Art de vivre in Provence with aix&terra gourmet grocery producer
Provence is one of those magical destinations: blue skies, warm days, balmy evenings, healthy cuisine, wonderful architecture, incredible heritage and the accent of the local inhabitants. It is as much an art of living as a geographical area!
Artisan gourmet producer Aix&terra celebrates and reinvents traditional recipes based on the best culinary know how of Provence. They produce manually and naturally their recipes in their Provence Manufacture, with ingredients, fruits, vegetables and truffles from their region.
The story starts in 2010 in Aix en Provence. At that time aix&terra was a small shop located place Richelme, well known for its lively market place. When Marina and Richard discovered it, they entered in a shop full of colors and rich in tastes and scents.
The couple had just left Paris to settle in Mirmande where they had renovated an old bastide after falling in love with the region, well known for its gourmet heritage and friendly way of life.
The aix&terra fine grocery with its colourful and handmade products was just what they were looking for. Richard, born in Marseille, the grandson of a grocer, found there the warm atmosphere and the scents of the traditional provencal store from his childhood. For Marina who is originally from Barcelona, in Spain, it represented the joyful spirit of the South. It was love at first sight.
Overnight they dropped everything and purchased the store with the vision for aix&terra to represent the creative and always reinvented Provence art of cooking.
The first workshop in Mirmande
Marina and Richard decided to turn aix&terra into a brand and a production workshop: la "Manufacture en Provence", from the latin "manu factum" which translates handmade.. The human component in the production process is essential as well as the quality of the ingredients used.
Over the course of 5 years, while retaining the historic boutique of Aix-en-Provence, they gave a new impetus to the grocery store by developing and reinventing recipes to celebrate and revive the best culinary traditions of Provence.
Richard Alibert was the former CEO of Bonpoint, a well known French couture house for children, and worked at Valrhona, a French preimum chocolate manufacturer, before directing several fashion houses (Celine Europe, Cacharel). He elaborated gourmet collections presented in elegant packaging with the colors of the main ingredient: color of eggplant for the eggplant caviar with truffle, black for the Nyons Olive Oil, yellow for the cream of lemon from Menton ...
Marina Alibert, former head of Nuxe Spa Printemps Haussmann and a passionate cook is the lead in the kitchen lab. At her side, a production team accompanies the creation and daily production of creams and jams.
The couple moved the workshop in Mirmande in a kitchen inside the old barn adjacent to the family home. It’s in this small workshop that they started the production of their artisan recipes.
The “manufacture en Provence”
Soon enough, the workshop ended up being too small. Marina and Richard Alibert were looking for « a place unique and beautiful, in line with their brand ». In 2016, their dream came true and they built their manufacture along the famous route 7 in Saulce-sur-Rhône between Valence and Montélimar along the river Rhone.
Route 7 is France's most legendary—and most delicious—road "La Nationale Sept" (the National 7), or "N7," was France's very own Route 66, the mythical summer-trip road for generations of French people. The meandering path, about 600 miles long, snakes its way from Paris to Menton, a small town near the border with Italy. During its heyday in the 1950s and '60s, the road was dubbed La Route des Vacances. A newly extended paid vacation for French workers, combined with the production of a new affordable automobile, the Citroen 2CV, French Singer Charles Trenet dedicated even a famous song to the Nationale 7.
Today the company is strong of 15 people and their handmade products are sold in 200 stores.
The manufacture is open all year long to the public and is an original concept conceived as a big open space with three areas:
- the workshop. Behind large glass windows visitors discover the daily work of the artisan makers. Every day the team produces manually the gourmet creams and jams in their big copper cauldrons. The ingredients are picked fresh by local farms and delivered to the manufacture every day so that they can be processed immediately and keep all their original flavor.
- the table. After having discovered the workshop, visitors can enjoy lunch on the premises and taste recipes making the best of exclusively fresh products from local markets and aix&terra creations. On the fixed price menu you can find for example eggplant caviar toasts with black truffle, raviolis with black tapenade, fresh cheese from the Drôme with its gourmet lemon cream, a totally pink tart with raspberries and rose cream and not to forget the sunny aix&terra ice creams (Mandarin from Corsica, basil, calisson …).
- The fine grocery. Visitors can also buy all the aix&terra products in the grocery section.
In the words of Richard, "what differentiates us from our competitors is that we are precisely a manufacture in Provence and we elaborate all our products with the best ingredients from all the Provence region, from the Drôme area to Menton; this is what distinguishes us from most of our competitors who do not create and do not produce their recipes with fruit, vegetables and truffles of Provence. This generates a great demand on the quality of our ingredients."