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Mar 20, 2012 10:09 PM

Anything around the Camargue - Saintes Maries de la Mer?

I'll be taking an intensive birding course in the Camargue in mid-May. I'm staying in Saintes Maries de la Mer, a rather large village with a few dozen restaurants on its website. I'll have a little time afterwards to chill out after my course..

Anyone have suggestions around the Camargue that don't involve driving to Marseille?

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  1. La Chassagnette, in the Camargue, but not next to Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, is excellent. It was the first bio restaurant to get a Michelin star. Its gardens are a sight in themselves. L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel in Arles is superb. (He was actually the chef at La Chassagnette when it first got its star.)

    1. Chez Juju is an alleged fish restaurant, described as little more than a shack, that I have been trying to track down for years. It should be in your general neighborhood and might well be worth looking into, If you get there, please share details with us. The scanty reports I have read sound superb.

      Route du Vaccares
      13129 SALIN DE GIRAUD

      1. I love the Ferme-Auberge de Barbegal, very near the breathtaking Roman mill Barbegal that no one ever visits. Th ingredients come from the farm and can't be fresher.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Parigi

          Sounds wonderful, Parigi. Mangeur, I'll try to track your fish shack down. I was successful in finding a real, old "crab shack" in the Florida panhandle, maybe I'll get as lucky here.

          1. re: RandyB

            I've since played around with researching Chez Juju, Randy, and the last positive mention was in 2003. I have the feeling that Juju may be been torn down and that there is no longer any there there. There is mention several places of another similar restaurant which may still be around.

            So, FWIW: "In both Beauduc restaurants, book ahead and allow £20 per head for three courses, plus wine. Restaurant Marc et Mireille: Tel 442 488008. Restaurant Chez Juju:Tel 442 868386."

            Read more:

              1. re: Parigi

                I just arrived in Paris a half hour ago. I guess I can try calling Juju to see if they really are open. Of course, I have a little time before I return in May for the Camargue trip.

              2. re: mangeur

                Just a note about the Beauduc shack restaurants:you're right to suspect that they no longer exist. Three or four years ago they were razed because of their violation of the strict French coastline construction laws. But they were great--an inevitable, wonderful plate of tellines in aioli, whatever fish came in that day, and rosé. Tough to beat but now, regrettably, the past.

            1. re: Parigi

              Just looked at the Ferme-Auberge de Barbegal website. It's definitely in the budget, with rooms at 67 euros incl breakfast, and table d'hote for 21 euros. It is a 3 epis gite. It is halfway between where I stay for my course and the Marseille airport, where I depart. Sounds like a neat area to explore.

              1. re: RandyB

                The patronne of the Ferme-auberge Barbegal once showed me the rooms, very nice. I have not stayed there.
                The food is simple and ultra fresh. Nothing sophisticated. It's farm food.
                Arles is a 15 minute drive away.
                You must take a stroll at the Barbegal Roman mills at sunset. It is like a smaller, more dilapidated but no less graceful and always deserted Pont du Gard.

                1. re: Parigi

                  I am staying at the Ferme Auberge Barbegal this Sunday and Monday nights, eating there Monday. (No table d'hote on Sundays)

                  The booking was a good reminder of why one should not rely completely on email dealings in France. My last exchange was 3 weeks ago, no lodging available. They said they'd put me on a waiting list and contact me if there were openings. Right!

                  I called this morning from my hotel in Saintes-Maries de la Mer. Yes, Barbegal has space for me, no problem.

                  I will report back.

                  1. re: RandyB

                    But now I'm afraid that after all these vicissitudes, your expectations may become too high. :-(
                    Remember: (1) You will always enjoy the Roman mills 1 km away; (2) and neaby Arles is one of the best eating towns of France, for all types of eats,, from beatup bistros to Rabanel's temple.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      I am expecting home, farm cooking, not haute cuisine. And the surroundings. So, no worries.

                      My big choices will be Sunday and Tuesday nights. Or maybe just Tuesday. I could be totally wasted on Sunday, after three days of 10-12 hours/day of intense classes in birding in the Camargue. The woman at Barbegal said there are places in the town close by.

                      Tuesday night will be at a boring airport hotel with no restaurant. I'll still have a car, so I can go anywhere.

                      1. re: RandyB

                        You can also go to a butcher-charcuterie in Arles Sunday morning, and pack yourself a picnic.

            2. I have eaten several times at La Telline and also attended a cooking class that Jean Paul gave to a group I was leading.

              La Telline
              +33 (0)4 90 97 01 75
              Route Gageron - quartier Villeneuve
              13200 Arles
              Lunch:Open 12-1 except Thursday
              Eve: 7:30--9 pm
              Closed Tuesday and Wed

              35 euros

              La Telline is named after the "clams in garlic cream" on the menu. (Actually, “tellines” are tiny clam-like bi-valve mollusks very popular in this area of the Mediterranean.)

              Other popular dishes include wood grilled eel from a local pond (etang), bull (taureau) chops, and fish served simply with perhaps local Camargue rice and a salad. All products are local.

              It is located in a typical (and beautiful) Camargue style house so far out that you think you are lost. You must pass Gagneron, and keeping going towards Villeneuve. A nice touch, they have large wine glasses, which is not common in France. Wine is very reasonably priced.

              The dining room is small, has about 7 antique walnut tables, with a huge central fireplace where the chef will cook your “taureau” (bull—specialty of the Camargue.)

              Jean Paul and Florence have built some chambres d'hote next to the restaurant.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sderham

                La Telline looks very nice and the timing works. Parigi has already convinced me to go to Ferme-Auberge de Barbegal. They don't do their table d'hote on Sunday, while la Telline does serve on Sunday.

                Too bad their site isn't very well done. Poor photos, the menu link doesn't work, and no mention of rooms. I guess I'll just have to use . . . what do they call it ? Oh, the telephone.

                1. re: RandyB

                  Barbegal is 67€ per night for one or two. Telline rooms are 110€ for one or two. I might eat there, but that price breaks the budget for me for rural travel. My first four nights I'm staying in a chambre d'hotes at 46€/night. Barbegal is the splurge.

                  Since this is a birding trip, maybe I should just wing it for my last night or two.

              2. Just took your great advice and went to Les Tellines. SO GOOD! I highly recommend it. We had a bottle of a local white wine from Domaine Saint Vincent which was affordable and lovely

                Picked up also a very handy little guide called Grand Sud des Cuisines that tells u about great places in the region and in Les Alpilles which I have never heard of!

                2 Replies
                1. re: beckypoostchi

                  Can you confirm that one can eat at Les Tellines without staying there?

                  1. re: RandyB

                    Yes, you can eat there without staying there. I have eaten there and done a cooking class but have never stayed.