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Jul 3, 2012 07:29 AM

Is Bistrot du Paradou Worth The Trip?


We are headed to St Remy de Provence next week. We've read the boards and a consistent recommendation is Bistrot du Paradou. It is near where we'll be staying. But fifty euros per person seems pricey.

(I lived in Paris for three years and my favorite places were low key neighborhood spots with solid food and reasonable menus - we're looking for similar places in the St. Remy area.) Is Bistrot du Paradou good value for money? Or are the other, more low key spots that offer similar menus nearby that we should try instead?

Thank you so much!

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  1. It is a nice bistro but not worth 50 euro.
    For 5 euro more, you can have a real 2-star lunch at the Atelier Rabanel in nearby Arles.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Dear Parigi,

      Thank you so much for this!

      Any thoughts good neighborhood haunts in St Remy that we shouldn't miss? We really appreciate your insights!

      1. re: HCooper

        Between the two, I would choose the Bistrot du Paradou, but it's a matter of personal preference, as they are very different places. Rabanel is numerous small plates in succession. Bistrot du Paradou is traditional bistro dishes executed at a very high level--and also a great cheese course. With the very reasonable (and good) house wine, Paradou is actually not too bad price-wise.

        ALso Rabanel is right in Arles, whereas Bistrot du Paradou is on a country road not near a town center (but has a convenient parking lot).

    2. Le Bistrot du Paradou is indeed solid & very good food, and well worth the trip (IMO). It is now at 51€ for appetizer (usually no choice but occasionally 2...the escargots are fabulous!), no-choice main, sumptuous & varied selection of cheeses, dessert (about 8 choices), coffee, and plenty of wine. This is certainly fair for dinner, but I agree that it is a bit much for lunch - which might be a few euros less. (You did not specify which meal.) Not too far from St Rémy is the Mas du Capoun in Mollégès - also worth the trip. Three courses for 35€; their 'wine of the month' (usually a good choice) was 22€ last night. If you were to choose that, dinner for 2 would come to 92€, which is extremely reasonable - and still only 10€ less than the 4 courses+wine+coffee at the Bistrot du Paradou. As for St Rémy restaurants, we've enjoyed a few dinners at the Bistrot Découverte, although not since last summer.

      7 Replies
      1. re: boredough

        Thank you both for your replies. Much appreciated (I am a huge escargot fan - so that might tip the balance). If the menu is 50 euros at both lunch time and dinner - maybe we'll go to dinner instead.

        We'll try to go to Mas du Capoun and maybe Bistrot Decouverte and we will report back.

        Thank you all!

        1. re: HCooper

          They might not be serving escargot the night you go -- but if you give the server a sob story,
          he might feel sorry for you and get the kitchen to prepare them. Don't be afraid to ask.

          1. re: boredough

            Okay sounds like a good plan! Thanks again!

            1. re: HCooper

              Please be sure to tell us all if le Bistrot du Paradou "was worth the trip" !

          2. re: HCooper

            It's been several years since I was there, but we had lunch, which was a good deal then.
            I don't recall having a choice of mains -- it may have been leg of lamb or lamb chops--
            and the meal was very generous and the included wine flowed freely. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

            1. re: ScottnZelda


              ScottnZelda thanks for the additional info!

              Boredough - we'll definitely share a post trip report! We bought the Bib Michelin are thinking about trying le Croque Chou in Verquieres, l'Oustalet Maianen in Maillane, and maybe Sous les Micocouliers in Eygalieres.

              Have any of you been to these places?

              Thanks again!

            2. re: HCooper

              Bistrot Decouverte changed owners in March 2012 and I have not had a chance to try it since then.

              Though I live in Provence, I haven't eaten at the Bistro du Paradou since a meal was 26 euros (good meal but no choice at all, long wait, ordinary wine.) So at the current price of 51 euros, I am not tempted to go. There are so many other great places in the area.

          3. Bistrot du Paradou, which has been relentlessly hyped by expat American food writers for decades, would be just fine if the prix-fixe came in at 20-25 euros. Unfortunately, the food here just isn't worth anything like 50 Euros, and so I think of this place as being sort of a provencale L'ami Louis wannabe.

            4 Replies
            1. re: andaba

              "just isn't worth anything like 50 Euros, and so I think of this place as being sort of a provencale L'ami Louis wannabe."

              Very well put.
              Another one like it is Le Fournil in Bonnieux. Very pleasant surroundings, nice bistro food. 50-euro menu worth 50 euro? Don't think so.

              1. re: Parigi

                But I think it's unfair to compare the 51€ at Bistrot du Paradou to a "20-25 euros" prix fixe (as per andaba). I haven't had food "worth the trip" for that price - except for la Petite Cave in Saignon, which is still a bit more at 29€ and definitely underpriced for its quality. The ballpark price around here seems to be 35€ for 3 courses - without wine (or coffee). Depending on the wine one orders at another restaurant, you could end up spending the same as Paradou - without the cheese course. Le Fournil is 49€ for 4 courses (w/cheese - without wine) so that too is not a fair comparison. But the bottom line, at least for me, is that the food at Bistrot du Paradou has always been delicious "bistro food", even if it's only that.
                As for HCooper's last post, we haven't been to le Croque Chou or Sous les Micocouliers in several years (not since they went 'Bib'); never been to Oustalet Maianen.

                1. re: boredough

                  My comparison upthread was with 2-star Rabanel: 5 courses (preceded by 6 amuse-bouches). 55 euro.
                  La Petite Cave is another good comparison. If that menu is in around the 30s range, then Le Fournil and Paradou should not be.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    But Rabanel's 55€ menu is only for lunch - and I agree that, given the choice, lunch there would be a reasonable alternative, since it's a totally different 'experience'. But still this price does not include wine - which I don't think comes cheap at Rabanel. Dinner there would be 95€ without wine, which is to say, more of a special night out than Paradou, le Fournil, or la Bartavelle. (And, again, la Petite Cave, which was 39€ last summer, is too low at 29€. I don't see how they do it, or how they will continue to maintain that price. ) So we're really talking 'pommes et oranges' here, non?

            2. I had dinner at the bistrot a couple of weeks ago and thought it was very nice. Pistou Soup or starter for starter, Bresse chicken (the rolls royce of chicken) for main course, cheeses to die for and a nice selection of dessert. Wine is included and they provide Côtes du Rhône Domaine de Monredon (which is a very nice one).So I would say 51 € is good value for money if you are hungry and you like wine (as much as you want...)
              As for St Remy, my favorite is O Caprices de Mathias for its food, its view and the quietness of the place.

              1. TRIP REPORT

                First, thanks so much to everyone for your thoughts here. We really enjoyed reading your responses here and in the many similar threads on this area. It's a great resource for newbies in the region.

                Here are places we ate and miscellaneous thoughts on each:

                L'Aile ou La Cuisse, St. Remy: 3 course menu, around 45 euro: This place has a nice garden, a relaxed atmosphere, and a friendly, unpretentious staff. We really enjoyed our dinner there. Memorable dishes: Raviolis aux escargots; roast quail in an incredible sauce (I think it was a creme de foie gras). The quail dish was really memorable -- incredibly tender and delicious. One of us thought this was the best dish of the trip.

                Restaurant la Reine Jeanne, Les Baux de Provence -- This one had all the makings of a dud: right in the middle of the tourist throngs of Lex Baux. Usually a guarantee of overpriced mediocrity. But we were exhausted and parched from a long hike in les Alpilles and basically collpased into the first place we saw. Ordinarily a recipe for disaster. But it turned out to be quite nice: 12 euro for a colorful, appealing salade nicoise loaded with fresh ingredients. Not haute cuisine, but they deserve kudos for coming in way above expectations.

                La Maison Jaune, St. Remy: This is some serious cooking. Amuse bouche: quail eggs (poached) served on a little spoon, brandade de morue (pate of cod), chevre -- all excellent. Entrees: Pistou of fresh local vegetables - very nice and refreshing; crevettes with chorizo. Principaux: Cendre (a white fish, cooked perfectly), on top of some kind of vegetable puree; roast ducking breast, sliced, served with an apricot jelly and sweet onion compote , all very well done. Excellent cheese course, mostly different chevres. Desserts were fantastic: orange slices in some kind of citrusy liquid; melon balls in a cold, frothy melon broth - hard to describe, but very creative and delicious preparations, perfect for summer. The desserts here were the other one's favorite dishes of the trip. Friandises: Nougat candies and stewed kumquats at the end. Very friendly, unpretentious staff here as well. Definitely recommend it. Between 50 and 80 euro for the various menus.

                Brasserie Eygalieres (Chez Bru) - After surviving the zoo-like St Remy market (it is really too overrun to enjoy), I demanded that we stop in a smaller town to decompress, so we headed to Eygalieres. Eygalieres is charming and quiet -- just what the doctor ordered. Hiking all the way the top of the town is rewarded with a magnificent view of the Alpilles, with not another person around. The brasserie is the less expensive outfit run by the owners of Chez Bru. It's prominently situated at the main corner in Eygalieres. We had escargots sauteed in olive oil with tomatoes, dill, and various other delicious things -- fantastic. Joue de veau, also great - nice and tender. Coquelet cooked with a nice, crispy skin, juicy on the inside. This place is also really excellent. I highly recommend it. One may want to reserve, as it fills up. Again, serious cooking here.

                Restaurant le Bonaparte, Cassis: The magnificence of Cassis's views are matched only by the overpriced mediocrity of its restaurants. Unfortunately, the better half read somewhere on the internet that Le Bonaparte was an exception. When I saw the place, I knew we were in for a bad meal, but she insisted on seeing it through. Basically, what you get is a piece of plain grilled fish with insipid, mediocre accoutrements...for 30 euro. This probably does not need saying after this account, but DO NOT GO HERE. None of the other restaurants in town looked particularly appealing either.

                We started and ended our trip in Geneva. If you're ever in the area, there's a nice Sunday morning market in the town of Douvaine, Haute Savoie, France, just across the border. We picked up some excellent artisanal sausages and alpine cheeses there.

                Thanks again to all of your for your help and insights on places to go! We really appreciate it!

                4 Replies
                1. re: HCooper

                  Try Jardin du Quai in L'Isle sur-la-Sorgue. I haven't been to the Bistro since Jean Louis retired and a waiter took over

                  1. re: cigalechanta

                    Vincent is not just "a waiter" but Jean-Louis' nephew. He had worked (as a waiter, chef, or manager when J-L was on vacation) for many many years, before J-L turned over the reins to him. So far he has done a fine job of maintaining the quality, atmosphere & warmth of the Bistrot du Paradou.

                    1. re: boredough

                      AFAIK, the nephew carried much of the FOH load in recent years. J-L was an institution and/but It was time for him to take a seat.

                      1. re: boredough

                        I'll miss JL. I have an autographed poster of the bistro that he gave me,