We will be returning to the area northeast of Pau for three weeks in September where we will be exploring in all four directions. Also will be doing some further afield overnight adventures. Would love thoughts on bistros, auberges, relais routiers, "reginal products" etc. The major activity of our last trip was to visit what ever town was having market day, stocking up and returning to cook with the help of a large glass of Floc de Gascogne. Heaven!
I was in Pau and Toulouse last September. We had some wonderful meals. Do you know which cities and towns you intend to visit, aside from Pau?. And what price range are you looking for in restaurants? We had a nice, very traditional dinner in Pau at Chez Pierre, and a pleasant one at Le Berry, an inexpensive brasserie that is the only decent place open on Sunday. I can recommend some places around Biarritz, Toulouse, and Carcassonne if you will be visiting them.
We will be going to the Biarritz/Bayonne area as well as Toulouse but passing on Carcassonne as we have been there. We would like to do a bit of exploring in the Pyrennes as well as the area between Pau and Agen. As far as price range we are somewhat all over the board. A special over the top meal is always a treat but some of our most favorite meals are in simple surroundings where the food of the region is the star.
One of the best meals we had in the area was at La Table des Freres Ibarboure in Bidart, near Biarritz (one Michelin star). The setting is beautiful, the dining room cozy and elegant, and the food is wonderful contemporary regional. The owners are very welcoming and the staff attentive. There are several menus at varying prices, not ridiculously expensive. One particularly nice touch on the table is the dish of piment d'Espelette, the local red pepper, which is great to sprinkle on everything. You should stop off in the nearby village of Espelette, it is charming and you can buy some pepper to take home. There is not a lot of great dining in Pau. Chez Ruffet, across the river in Jurancon, has 2 Michelin stars and is supposed to be very good and very cutting edge, but we opted for tradition and a lower price tag. Chez Pierre is interesting because the chef is part of a dying breed of rigidly old-fashioned French traditionalists. The food varied from moderately good to very good, but the one dish that is a must-have is the langoustine ravioli with cream sauce, tomato, and basil. Le Berry specializes in Chateaubriand, which I had along with very good smoked herring. Good food, casual, bustling atmosphere, filled with local people. Are you going to Lourdes? We found it to be a total tourist trap, but we did have a very nice bargain lunch at Relais de Saux, just north of the town. Excellent food in a rustic elegant inn. In Toulouse, we thought the best was Le 7, on the Place St. Sernin. We had a surprise 4-course menu with surprise wine pairings, and the whole thing came to less than $200 for 2. Also had good meals at Le 19 and at O Saveurs in Rouffiac-Tolosan, a few miles outside of town(1 Michelin star). Also had a very nice lunch at a charming traditional bistro, Le Bon Vivre, on the Place Wilson.
Having lived there for 1,5 year, i had the opportunity to try many places.
My favourites places were Le Berry and Chez Pierre, no doubt about it.
But for an extraordinary dinner and great occasion : go to Chez Ruffet. 2*, located in Jurancon, near Pau - 5km if i remember well... prices are very smooth and you'll enjoy great experience.