- annamikemc Mar 10, 2008 07:50 AM
Well, I haven't even been on my Paris trip yet and I'm already planning my 2009 trip to Provence!
We'll be spending around 10 days in the area in April 2009 and will be exploring as far west as Nimes and Uzes, as far east as Roussillon, and up to the Orange area above Avignon. We've already been to Aix and Marseille so we will not be going that far south. With that in mind, we're looking for a list of recommendations in various price ranges to consider, so then we can research and narrow down from there. We'll have a couple of more pricey starred meals, and also would love some local smaller favorites. We prefer French food when in France, but it doesn't have to be all Provencal in focus. We will also have a car so we are not limited to areas with TGV access. We've looked at the guidebooks and online, but there are so many that I'd love personal recommendations!
Thanks in advance!
Given where you've visited before, I have two different areas to suggest as a home base: around Vaison-la-Romaine, and the valleys around Les Baux de Provence.
Using either as a base, there are lots of options for wonderful meals within fairly short drives. While in those areas I stayed at hotels and a b&b. In retrospect, I wish that I had rented a house or apt so that I would have been able to cook since local markets were wonderful (near les Baux, in les Maussane les Alpilles).
Yes- while I wish I could say that I've lived in the area as johnmarseille has, I do love the area and have stayed there several times over the last ten years or so. Around St Remy is a great location to have as a base for one of your weeks. Here are some suggestions for you to consider, not yet mentioned, at 3 different levels:
First- the highest end (and most expensive):
l'Oustau de Baumaniere in the valley of Les Baux de Provence
La Petite France, a little further along in the valley in Maussane-les-Alpilles
Le Bistrot du Paradou, Le Paradou
Also, there are wonderful wineries to visit. Here is one thread that mentions a few, as well as books for background reading:
Hope this is helpful.
I've been living in the area for twenty odd (very) years and have a couple of ideas: Le Vieux Castillon in the village of the same name near le Pont du Gard (great hotel and fabulous 1 star restaurant that tastes like 2, Relais et Chateaux), le Mesclun in Seguret, in one of the wine villages near Gigondas, modest and inventive restaurant in a "perched village" with tons of style; le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, fine hotel and legendary restaurant, a kind of little paradise out of the blue in not the most attractive of areas; le Grand Hotel in Sete, inexpensive but stylish hotel, good restaurant in a real French port most tourists don't visit. Now I know you said you're not going to Aix or Marseille, but let me just add for those who are reading these posts and might want to come down here : le Petit Nice in Marseille (new three star Michelin entry), unthinkably good and expensive, totally classic call but I had to mention it; le Peron in Marseille (new 1 star); l'Amphytrion in Aix--great value and food, and the chef Bruno Ungaro is great. Hope this helps a bit. If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask.
I can highly recommend L'Auberge de la Loupe (some say Loube) in Buoux which is not that far from Menerbes. It's closer to Apt, but well worth the short drive. You will rarely get such a wonderful, Sunday lunch as this place serves. I can also second the recommendation of Le Vieux Castillon. Up above Apt is the lovely, small town of Saignon. There's a lovely, small hotel and restaurant there - perfect for a lunch stop. It's Auberge du Presbytere.
The ones who say LOUBE are the correct ones. De La Loube is the family name of the owner. Auberge de la Loube is worth the visit for either dinner or lunch, but be sure to reserve in advance, lest you arrive and find he has filled all the places he will serve that day and meal. We went on a Saturday in September and he turned away 2 couples, both of which had not reserved. He was serving 20 places that day and he had 19 taken. Better he should restrict the number of places he will serve than lower his quality, Although he has a slightly gruff manner, he is a very warm and friendly man.
It was about 9 years between my two visits to the Auberge de la Loube, but nothing at all had changed except for some building works. I've always booked ahead and gone for the Sunday lunch. After that meal, one just wants to lie in the grass and nap and look up at the beautiful Provencal sky. :-) I'm getting the urge to go again!!