Paradou as base for 5 day Provence trip?
I am new to these boards and have spent the past week trawling through the various threads on Provence. The level of detail and local knowledge is astounding and more than I have seen on any other board!
At first I was quite overwhelmed but as I read and re-read, I think I am starting to gain a better appreciation.
I do have some specific questions however.
We will be spending 5 days in Provence for our honeymoon in mid-Sept. We are very experienced travellers in our early-30s and have lived in many countries and contintents. We are not familiar with this area of France. Also, we are used to winging it a bit and rarely book much in advance. This seems to be something that would not work well for us in Provence in mid-Sept!
We don't have a huge amount of time to spend as we will be leaving behind our small daughter with her grandparents who I think could not manage more than a week with a high-energy toddler. So we'd like to make the most of the time we do have. Luckily we will only have a short flight to get there so won't have to worry about jet-lag etc.
So we are considering staying at the Maison Du Paradou in Paradou. The place looks really lovely and we both prefer a relaxed, rustic atmosphere rather than ultra-luxurious hotels which we find tend to be a little formal/stuffy.
Is Paradou an appropriate base? Or should we consider splitting our time between there and another hotel such as the Domaine Du Capalongue?
If we do stay in Paradou, we know there is the Bistro du Paradou in the village so that would certainly be one meal. From this board, I have also decided on Oustau De Baumaniere for lunch on one of the days. After that I am a little stuck.
As I said before, we'd really like to go for the relaxed, rustic, local type restaurants and not anywhere super formal. We are not necessarily looking for Michellin Stars. We like to enjoy a few glasses of wine.
So we don't really want to have to drive long distances for dinner. And in fact, I am concerned that being based in Paradou, we will have to drive for every dinner which means a limit on the wine.
Any suggestions or recommendations whether this is a good base or if we should split our time? And any more local restaurant ideas would be great. I should say that we don't have to eat a big, elaborate meal every night and would be happy to have something easy on a couple of nights - local pizza etc.
Our budget for accomodation is circa €250 p/n.
Although Bistro du Paradou is a "must do" restaurant, the town is little more than a fork in the road, if I recall correctly. St. Remy would be a better place to base your adventures, or even Les Baux.
Again the contrarian, I would consider Paradou as a hub. It is less congested than St. Remy, central to visiting the St. Remy, Le Baux, the Camargue, Arles, Aix, Pond du Gard, etc. An easy drive to the Wednesday St. Remy market. If you are there on a Sunday, you might consider driving to Sanhilac for lunch at Le Tractor.
We stayed outside Apt one year and found it easy to get just about everywhere for day trips. It was in a small village and a nice change from a hotel with parking problems that can occur. I'd suggest having a Sunday lunch (or any other meal) at Auberge de la Loube in Buoux. It is fantastic and as good now as my first meal there years ago!
Let me further complicate your decision-making : the Domaine de Capelongue is a fabulous place in a stunning setting overlooking Bonnieux. The surrounding area is rolling hills, perched villages, and lush vineyards - just driving "home" is special. As for restaurants, a 5 minute ride into the village of Bonnieux will get you to 2 of our favorite places: l'Arôme and le Fournil. For great Provençal pizza, there is also la Flambée, where you should try to dine on the upstairs terrace, weather permitting. And if you don't mind driving about 15 mins, you could have a great meal at la Petite Cave in Saignon, or la Bartavelle in Goult. (In the past I would have said you should not miss le Castelas in Sivèrgues, but, as per this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/837274
I think we need another recent review.) I may be the odd person out in this, but I am not a fan of the Auberge de la Loube. The one time we went (last summer) our first course of a vast assortment of hors d'oeuvres was enjoyable, but the mains were seriously disappointing & overcooked.
Regarding le Paradou, I don't know the hotel but do know the area. With views of the Alpilles and fields of olive trees, it's just a different 'lovely', but the town itself is nothing to speak of. Besides the Bistrot du Paradou, you could go to the Mas du Capoun in Mollégès, about 30 mins away. But still....I'd pick Capelongue.
I live in St. Remy and know Paradou well, of course. The owners of Maison du Paradou (which is indeed very lovely) are quite foodie and can recommend lots of good restaurants. The village of Maussane, right down the road from Paradou, has quite a few good spots, including L'Oustaloun. So if you eat at the Bistro du Paradou one night, and come to St. Remy one night, and eat in Maussane one night, that leaves just two nights. Cabro d'Or (owned by Baumaniere and very close to you) is another very nice option...and less expensive than Baumaniere. The pizzeria Brun in Maussane, very close to Paradou, has what some say is the best pizza around; it's mostly takeout with a few tables out front. And there's a very good pizzeria (with salads and pasta) on the square in Maussane called PIazza del Gusto. Enjoy!
I whole-heartedly agree that Paradou/Maussane is a wonderful base for this part of Provence. Mid-September is completely gorgeous to boot. I would also recommend Pizza Brun and L'Oustaloun as well as stopping by the Jean Martin boutique for excellent picnic tapendades, etc. plus the excellent olive oil at the Coop in Maussane (these two villages are pretty much one long village BTW). Drinks on the square in Maussane are the essence of Provence. I don't know the Maison du Paradou but do know Provence Post and if she says that the folks run a good show and are foodies, well, that is good to hear. And Paradou is a short drive away from Arles with many fine eating options. As completely different as they are, I would go for a meal at Rabanel over L'Oustau de Baumaniere, not to mention that the team from L'Autruche that has taken up at the gorgeous hotel Nord Pinus (at the very least worth a drink in the bar). Yes, staying in St. Remy would make things a bit easier but it isn't the same country experience as what you could have in Paradou.