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Jan 7, 2011 03:36 PM

Montpellier / Cevennes

Planning for a summer trip that will have me two days in Montpellier on my own and then a week in the Cevennes near Le Vigan with my family and some friends.

Any recommendations gladly accepted. I'll be on my own in Montpellier, so I'm not looking to splurge on Michelin stars, but I'm not on a starving student's budget either. We'll probably want at least one special meal once the families are together.

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  1. Montpellier : Le Jardin des Sens and La Maison de la Lozère for refined dining, le Saleya for a great outdoor lunch.
    Elsewhere: Ô Bontemps in Magalas (be sure to book), L'Entre-Pots in Pézenas, Café Plaisance in Béziers, Café de l'Entonnoir in the Sète covered market (book a couple of days ahead). Le Château du Port in Marseillan.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ptipois

      On Ptipois' recommendation, my family and I just headed to le Saleya. My kids are vegetarians, and le Saleya had no vegetarian options today; however, they're located right next to a place that had pizzas. We asked waiters at both restaurants if we could put two of the outdoor tables together, one from Saleya and the other from the pizza place. Both agreed. The kids' very prompt waiter came, took their order, delivered their meal, delivered the bill, and boxed the remainder -- all before our Saleya waiter deigned to notice us again.

      Well, that's not quite true. He did say "J'arrive" from a distance ("I'll be there"). He claimed the table we wanted to use was reserved; it wasn't. He claimed to be on his way. He didn't come. The food might be great, but we never got a chance to order. Why? Feh, who knows.

      A very (in our experience) atypical French experience -- unnecessary, gratuitous rudeness, seemingly to make a point about how things ought to be done - or not done. If he wasn't going to serve us -- come on, pal -- just freaking say so, and we'll figure something else out.

      The up side: a lovely sunny day in otherwise gorgeous Montpellier. And we stomped home and had a luscious lunch from our morning's marketing.

    2. Le Jardin des Sens has two or three Michelin Stars, so if you aren't looking for that, you can eat at La Compagnie des Comptoir in Montpellier, which is run by the same family - the Pourcel brothers (and there are also branches in La Grande Motte and Beziers).

      In (or rather near) Le Vigan is a lovely restaurant called Auberge les Quatre Saisons de Breau - its up the hill next to Le Vigan in a hamlet called Breau. I haven't been for a few years, but we have had really good food there at a good price. It was also where I first tasted Picpoul de Pinet - a lovely white wine from near Marseillan.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Theresa

        If you are interested in tasting the excellent wines from this region, try to get out to Montpeyroux for lunch at La Terrasse de Mimosa, a winebar with good bistrot food, very informed and enthusiastic staff and fine selection of local wines. You may also run into any of the local vintnors who tend to congregate here for lunch.

        1. re: Theresa

          I was in Montpellier on Saturday and we had a very good lunch at the Pourcel brother's restaurant L'INSENSÉ at the Musée Fabre near Place de la Comédie. I was with cousins and some of their friends who live in Montpellier and they told me the Compagnie des Comptoir is still in business but licensed and operated by another restaurant group. Le Jardin des Sens has two stars, lost the third star several years ago. There are several very good restaurants in the area north of Montpellier known as the Pic St. Loup which is between Montpellier and where you will be in Le Vigan. There are also several good places in Nimes and Uzes. I would be remiss to not say that there is some very good wine made in the Pic St. Loup region too.

        2. The marvellous Auberge du Cedre, in Lauret between Martin de Londres and Quissac, would be a useful addition to this list.

          Some menu limitations apply mid-week but otherwise there is a shaded terrace, good locally sourced food and wine list heavy on Languedoc and with decent prices.

          1. Thank you all for the recommendations so far.

            I may have a been a bit too general with the location. We will be staying in the village of Vallerauges, which is 20km north of Le Vigan, the nearest large town. If anyone knows of places in and around that area, I would be especially grateful.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Remsleep

              Abra Bennett, whom I trust, wrote about Le Jardin, where a talented chef merges his native African flavors with the produce and tastes of the Cevenole.

              10, rue du Four, Le Vigan


              I will add that, should you not be familiar with the area, the drive from Le Vigan down through St. Maurice-Navacelles to the east-west route 109 is extraordinary...straight down and straight up and then, do it again. Incredibly scenic.

              1. re: Remsleep

                I don't know how long you are prepared to drive for a good meal as the distances are small but the roads are windy and long-oh to be a bird. But in the little hamlet of Soudorgues, above Lasalle is a marvellous village restaurant Le Fageas. Just outside Durfort is Hotel Real for a good lunch-I find the supper tries to be a bit too fussy. Imbetween Colognac and St Roman de Codieres is the Auberge de Bourras-refined but tasty food in somewhere too small even to be a hamlet.
                If any of those are do-able for you I can find telephone numbers

                1. re: Peckhampam

                  Auberge de Bourras sounds like it's within easy reach. Google maps gave me the number. Thank you for the recommendation.

                  1. re: Remsleep

                    I have been going to l'Auberge de Bourras for some time...a handkerchief-sized dining area, and you have to walk through the kitchen to get to it! Good food, and while the chef's wife can seem a bit grim, she is quite nice. Just smile at her, a bunch. They are closing their doors after 30 years (so far, they haven;t found anyone to continue the business). They will be missed.

                    I also like Fageas (especially the gregarious team!), but in going that distance, plan to stay longer and have a good walk after lunch, the views are spectacular.

                    In St. Hippolyte du Fort, there is l'Armourier, which is quite good despite its unpromising location. The owner can be very slightly peculiar, just to forewarn you, his wife's cooking is first-rate.

                    A culinary high point (and a bit of a--legitimate--splurge) within reach of Valleraugue is in St.-Martin-de-Londres, and is called Les Muscardins...

                    Bon appetit!

                    1. re: tammyps

                      I am very sad to hear that L'auberge de Bourras is closing. Madame is lovely and I could even occasionally make her smile. Monsieur does not think much of English cooking but loves lemon curd so I would always take a jar with me (and usually get some home-made jam in return).
                      On a happier note we had a really good lunch in St Hippolyte du Fort-in a hotel restaurant...I can not remember the name but it was the french for a poisonous mushroom with red and white spots...Amanite???

                      1. re: Peckhampam

                        You have the whole year ahead of you before they close, make the most of it! I think they are a bit regretful to close, but 30 years is a long time.

                        There is only one hotel-restaurant that seems to get any attention in St. Hippo, and that is L'Auberge Cigaloise. Nothing to do with mushrooms, though. Their lunch is pleasant, I think 12 euros for three courses, so I shouldn't quibble if i taste a lot of Maggi in their vinaigrette, right? I have no idea what dinner is like.

              2. Recent visit to Montpellier included two excellent meals:

                Les Bains de Montpellier: very good cuisine in historic setting and wonderful outdoor seating.

                Playfood: a unique restaurant where the food is served in verrines, small glasses priced at approximately 3E each. Choose a few savory and few sweet. For 15E a person, you will leave stuffed and satisfied. Some really nice choices, including some suitable for vegetarians/vegans. Genial owner/chef. When you need a change from traditional large plate French cuisine, try this place.