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nouvelle food in Southwest France

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We are planning a 12 day trip starting and ending in Lyon. We would like recommendations on a loop going to Avignon and Nimes, westward to Beziers then to Albi , north to Brive and then Eastbound back to Lyon. We love the country inns with a grand restaurant in house or small towns with the same.
We have budgeted for a experience of one to three star dining (expensive)

Does anyone have ideas for a trip with these in mind. We live in a large city and do not have to be in one overseas to be happy but would like to have something to do in the days also.

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  1. I'm not sure what you mean by nouvelle food, but it seems that your nice route will take you, on the Nimes-to-Beziers leg, very near Montpellier and/or Sète -- and so you may want to check out Le Jardin des Sens and La Coquerie -- both described near the top in this long post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/873368 -- Jake

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jake Dear

      "Le Jardin des Sens" I've not been paying attention here but I'd endorse Jake's sugestion.

    2. "Nouvelle" as in Michel Guérard, 1970s, or Nouvelle as in "what they do now down South"?
      I would lean towards the latter.

      I fully second Jake's recommendations. Also think of:

      Michel Bras, or Cyril Attrazic in Saint-Chély d'Apcher if Bras is packed up,
      L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel and La Chassagnette in Arles,
      Folia at Château de Flaugergues near Montpellier (where a wonderful, little-known chef named Thierry Alix performs)

      1. I agree with both Jake's and Pti's recommendations (except for Bra's which I don't like & think is highly over rated.)

        Here are few others in your travel area to consider:

        L'Esprit du Vin in Albi. Generally excellent, but occasionally disappointing.

        Le Vieux Pont in Belcastel - our favorite! Everything is just right.

        Both of these have Michelin stars.

        L'Epicurien in Villefranche de Rouergue - The new owners are trying hard & are good. I would expect a star on the horizon.

        Chateau de Longcol near Najac. New owners. The food is excellent and the location superb. Another contender for a star.

        A visit to one or more of these will enhance your trip. None of these will break your budget.

        1. thanks guys for the replies. Just the type of posts we love. I will certainly visit a few of them

          1. It's not Michelin starred, but L'Ochre Rouge in Herepian does very good modern French food using local Languedoc ingredients.

            There is also a new restaurant - L'Ortensia - in St Gervais Sur Mare, just over the mountain from Herepian, and it is supposed to be very good.

            1. Last year, my husband and I took a trip at times near where you'll be going. Report here:

              I second Pti's recommendation of Michel Bras -- we almost went back there this year to stay at the hotel and eat there. The hotel rooms book up fast. Order à la carte rather than getting the tasting menu.

              Some years ago, I went to le Tracteur in Sanilhac near Nîmes and liked it very much. It's no longer on the lefooding website so I don't know if it's as good as it was or still open. Perhaps someone else has been there recently? (Incidentally, the lefooding restaurant search seem to me to have become infinitely more difficult to use.)

              1. I'd highly recommend Le Vieux Castillon, near Nîmes and le Pont-du-Gard--a lovely medieval village, charming hotel, and what a table. I note that it no longer has its Michelin star, which is very surprising for we ate there last year and found it wonderfully delicate and memorable.

                1. Sounds like you will be missing the wonderful Dordogne and the 20K year old cave drawings--

                  Lyon will have lots of great restos, if you're adventurous try a couple of Bouchons. Unique bottle of wine called a "pot". Nothing like a Michelin except that the food is great and the atmosphere very convivial.

                  Are you going to Toulouse? Great cassoulet, lots of great restos there as well.

                  1. Echo Yank's recommendations in my neck of the woods:

                    L'Esprit du Vin in Albi, Le Vieux Pont in Belcastel. Would add the Hotel du Pont in Ambialet, one of my favorite places around Albi in a beautiful setting.

                    1. Agree to all.

                      - Esp Jean-Luc Rabanel and La Chassagnette in Arles
                      - Le Vieux Pont in Belcastel, the picture-perfect village of France

                      "Le Vieux Castillon, near Nîmes and le Pont-du-Gard--a lovely medieval village, charming hotel"
                      Agree, agree, agree. May I add that the name of the village is Castillon du Gard

                      Noting for myself
                      L'Epicurien in Villefranche de Rouergue, which has one of my fave markets in France, up there with the one in Arles and St Jean de Luz and Cancale, way above l'Isle sur la Sorgue and Vaison la Romaine.
                      Chateau de Longcol near Najac, another enchanting village.

                      I also would like to add that not only the above great addresses are destination eateries, but the towns and villages where they are located are all enchanting spots by themselves.

                      And when you are sick of pigging out, try my fave street food of France: a tielle (pizza crust outside, runny St Jacques inside) in Sète, If Paradiso (11, quai de la Résistance) is closed, which it should never never happen if there is a god, the tielle stand in the nearby covered market has a hell of a consolation prize tielle.