Provence July 2011
We are two Montreal Chowhounds planning a week in Provence the first week of July. I know it will be busy. Based on the research I have done to date, I am leaning on spending the whole week based in St-Remy. I would plan to do day trips to various attractions within Western Provence, incl the Luberon, and have a nice lunch wherever we find ourselves. To avoid evening drives after wine consumption, I would plan to dine within walking distance of our hotel.
With this in mind I would be grateful for some St-Remy-de-Provence restaurant recommendations, plus some advice on where to eat while we are out exploring the region.
My recommendations for dinner are as follows:
St Rémy: le bistrot Découverte, l'Assiette de Marie (if you're in the mood for Italian influence)
Near St Rémy (it's worth getting in your car): le Bistrot du Paradou (in Le Paradou - must reserve), le Mas de Capoun (in Mollégès - must reserve), La Place (in Maussanne)
and for lunches on the road:
Bonnieux: Bastide de Capelonge (stunning view overlooking the town & lavender/2-star restaurant is expensive, but they also have a "summer restaurant" with light fare), l'Arôme, Le Fournil, and La Flambée (if you're just in the mood for great pizza - be sure to dine upstairs)
Sivèrgues: le Castelas (better for dinner, however, when they serve roast pig, but even for lunch it's a fun experience - family-style with goats & pigs running around)
Lourmarin: la Cour de Ferme (reasonably-priced sister of la Fenière on the same property)
Gargas: Domaine de la Coquillade (one of their 3 restaurants is a grill overlooking a vineyard/the entire domaine is beautiful)
Orgon: Auberge du Parc (actually this is worth considering for dinner...not too far)
Gordes: la Ferme de la Huppe
Coustellet: Maison Gouin
La Motte d'Aigues: Restaurant du Lac
Ansouis: La Closerie
Ventebren: La Table de Ventebren
As menton1 & igorm said, the market at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is great (in July it will be very crowded so try to get there by 9am in order to find a parking space), but one of my favorite markets is the one in St Rémy on Wednesday mornings. As markets go, it has an exceptionally nice selection of vendors that offer an assortment of gift-worthy items. The highlight (for me - as touristy as it is) is the street entertainment - 2 balladeers singing Piaf/Montand-ish songs and a Dixieland-style trio. (The trio also performs in Isle-s-Sorgue, but they're harder to find.).
Domaine de Valmouriane is a dreamy place with restaurant just on the outskirts of St Remy. Perhaps not walkable, but only a 5 minute drive from St Rémy center; but you can also consider staying there, it's a glorious place, small, only 12 rooms. Tres, tres Provencal!
Don't miss Isle-Sur-La Sorgue village, beautiful on a weekday, and Sunday has the best antiques and brocante market in Provence. Note the unique green algae that grows in the narrow canal running through the town.