Eating The Tour de France – Stage 3: Bouillabaisse

The third stage of the 2009 Tour will take the riders across mosquito infested Rhone river delta, and as wind blows in off the salt-marshes of the Camargue, the lead riders will no doubt feel the pinch. As Western Europe’s largest delta, the Camargue is home to thousands of birds and if the riders can get their heads up they might be lucky to spot a flamingo.

This damp corner of France is perfect for growing rice and the region is well known for its red rice, but if I had just powered my way through the best part of 200km of French country side I would be looking for something a little more hearty than a bowl of rice.

The industrial port of Marseille, where Stage 3 starts, is famed for its fish stew Bouillabaisse. A heart provencal fisherman’s favorite (bouï abaisso in Provençal, meaning boil and press “bout et abaisse”) this flavorsome stew was usually made from the unsold fish at the daily market, with other local shellfish added for good measure. Traditionally Bouillabaisse was a poor mans food, and never contained expensive ingredients such as lobster which you might find at the finer restaurants of Marseille. Served with a rouille, another provencal peasant dish, Bouillabaisse is healthy, hearty and the perfect meal for Stage 3 of the Tour de France.


  1. 1. Combine the saffron and hot water in a small bowl and set aside to infuse. 
  2. 2. Place the stock, tomato, leek, carrot and celery in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
  3. 3. Meanwhile, to make the capsicum rouille, place the bread in a large bowl. Cover with plenty of cold water and set aside to soak. Squeeze the excess water from the bread with your hands and place in a blender. Add the peppers, garlic, chilli and oil, and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl.
  4. 4. Add saffron/water mixture to tomato mixture and cook for a further 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add fish, prawns and mussels to the soup and cook, covered, for a further 2-3 minutes or until seafood is just cooked and mussels open. (Discard unopened mussels.) 
  5. 5. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup among serving bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Top with a dollop of capsicum rouille and serve with fresh baguette.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 11:02 and is filed under Cycling Recipes, French Recipes, Tour De France Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Tim Greenhalgh

    Brilliant Tom! Le Tour is my sporting highlight of the year – it’s a majestic event and now with added gastronomie. Thanks – I’ll be watching and eating my way with you for the next three weeks.
    What will you be eating on the top of Ventoux?!

  2. .hmmessage P
    font-size: 10pt;

    glad to here it tim – not sure what the feast will be at the top but plenty of cote de rhone to take the pain out of the legs…
    just about to post todays recipe so keep an eye on the blog. any recipe suggestions more than welcome

    Tom Kevill-Davies 

    The Hungry Cyclist – Pedalling The World For The Perfect Meal 

    t. 0789 621 5282

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