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Languedoc, Luberon, Provence and Girona and Calella

We have read many wonderful posts about Languedoc, Luberon, and Girona and Calella. We have decided to go - to all of them mid June to mid July 2013.

Any current suggestions about great places to eat in Girona?
We are planning to eat at Carme Ruscalleda in Calella, comments? Suggestions?

On to Prades (Maison Prades - we will eat dinner there). Limoux (?), Minervos (Relais Chantovent - yes we will eat there).

Then Pezenas, open to suggestions. We can not get a response from Hotel Faurie so I am not sure about getting to eat at Saint Agreve. We will keep trying.

On to Vaison la Romaine, Saint Remy and Marsielle. I would love any and all recommendations. Thanks

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  1. I look forward to reading more about your planning -- sounds like a great trip. I suspect that Faurie is closed now, they may not be responding for that reason. -- Jake

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jake Dear

      Thank you Jack, do you think they may be closed permanently or just open during late spring and summer? I have not tried calling them but have sent multiple email messages.

      1. re: miseenplacekh

        I was referring to the seasonal closing. When we were reserving last year we found many places in this general area closed Jan-early April. Some monitored email reservation requests when closed, for others it took weeks and follow-up requests to get a response. I'd not worry too much about Faurie, I assume they are simply on a well deserved break.

        1. re: Jake Dear

          Jake Dear
          Sorry I miss spelled your name earlier, I will re-send a request to Hotel Faurie the end of April and see if I can get a response.
          I am putting together a more detailed itinerary with specific ideas about where to eat and will post that by this weekend. Did you enjoy Le Puy? It looks interesting and we love the french lentils.

          1. re: miseenplacekh

            Pas de problem. I would not wait until end of April, but try it end of March.

    2. How long will you be in Pezenas? Will you be spending some time exploring the surrounding towns and villages?

      Even if you won't be there long, you could make a slight (and very picturesque) detour between Minerve and Pezenas and stop for lunch at Le Cave St Martin at Roquebrun - I've reviewed it on here if you want to know more.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Theresa

        Theresa we will be in Pezenas for 4 days and will make a point to stop at Le Cave St Martin. Thank you and I do promise to respond when we return about our experience. I will go back and re-read your review. We will be in Pezenas for the market also.

        1. re: miseenplacekh

          And how many days will you be in St-Rémy & Marseille? For St Rémy area, I'd suggest le Bistrot du Paradou (in le Paradou - closed SUN/MON), le Mas du Capoun (in Mollégès - closed SAT lunch, TUE night, & WED), le Potager du Mas at the Mas de la Rose (in Orgon - closed SUN night & MON). For Marseille, you can have bouillabaisse at Chez Fonfon in the lovely Vallon des Auffes (closed MON lunch & SUN). There's also la Table de Ventabren (in the adorable village of Ventabren - closed TUE lunch & MON)

          1. re: boredough

            Boredough,
            We will be in St-Rémy four days, and Marseille four days.Thank you for these suggestions! We have not put Ventabren on our list but we will now.

            1. re: miseenplacekh

              Why are you spending 4 days in Marseille? I live in the south of France, and no one i know would ever spend 4 days there. Most people don't even go.There is a lot of hoopla about Marseille and the year of culture, but all the city has done is to widen sidewalks and add a promenade. The MuCem (new Med Museum of Culture ) isn't due to open until June--but since this is Marseille who knows when it will open.

              The traffic in Marseille is the worst in Western Europe (not my opinion, but there are statistics.) People drive like Italians--very impatient. I was rear-ended last May by a driver who didn't want me to stop at a red light.

              I actually do go to Marseille occasionally since I need to take clients there. Personally I think your time is better spent elsewhere. There is so much in the south of France to see.

              1. re: sderham

                Well, it is actually 2.5 days, we hope to visit the Calanques one day (take a bus and hike down with a picnic) and spend another day in town. If you think that is way too much we will think about that. the last night we are spending at the airport as we have a super early flight and do not want to think about the traffic. It is 4 nights but one is coming in late in the day, and one at the airport. I appreciate knowing about the driving. We will check out the MuCem if it is open mid July.

                1. re: sderham

                  Excuse me but with all due respect I can't let cutting and ill-informed remarks like this pass. Though certain openings (like the MUCEM) are set to fall into place later in the year, Marseille is absolutely bubbling with wonderful things to do throughout 2013. Agreed, it's not a Certified Tourist Spot like some people only feel comfortable in; it is rather an authentic, vibrant city with a wonderful food culture. I am writing this after lunch at Arnaud de Gramont's Café des Epices. How he manages to surprise meal after meal stuns me. We were three for three delicious courses and a nice bottle of rose for a little over €100. The main course of pagre (a Med. white fleshed fish) on a layered bed of avocado purée et a crunchy kind of quinoa particularly stood out. In any case the sunny afternoon in the quiet space behind the town hall surrounded by dozens of olive trees in enormous, attractive pots didn't hurt either. Not trying to pick a fight but, seriously, if you can find your time is better spent elsewhere, then I'd like to know where elsewhere is.

                  1. re: johnmarseille

                    Thank you for this comment. I hoped that Marseille would have some unique and wonderful food and culture. We will note this. Can you tell me if you use public transportation (we will have dropped off our car before hand or plan to). Is the bus system usable?

                    1. re: miseenplacekh

                      It's a pleasure to see you're wo open-minded about Marseille. Yes, public transportation is fine, with a very elaborate bus system complemented by tramway and metro. Check out the RTM site for the buses. Where is your hotel, by the way?

                      1. re: johnmarseille

                        We are "guessing" meaning we have made a reservation at the Saint Ferréol at 19 Rue Pisancon. We are open to ideas as they have a very reasonable cancellation policy. Our goal is to have good access to good restaurants and transportation. We would love any suggestions.
                        We also are open to any other places for unique (to Marseille) and wonderful food.

                        1. re: miseenplacekh

                          I'm sure that on this site and elsewhere you can find good hotel recommendations. My two might be 1) on the high end, the Palm Beach, great sea views and super bar, not in the city center but easily accessed by the 83 bus which runs all the time. 2) the New Hotel Bompard, a mini-chain with, I think, three in Marseille, all nice but the Bompard is interesting because it's in a cool "bo-bo" residential neighborhood, Bompard in the 7th (one of Marseille's 111 named neighborhoods), calm, nice pool and garden, five minute walk to the Corniche Kennedy (and the Petit Nice restaurant), four stars but not too expensive, and linked easily by the 61 bus to the city center. As far as restaurants are concerned, I think there is some good stuff already on the site, but you might also look at the NYTimes "36 hours in Marseille," which I could have written myself. But just for the record (maybe again): la Cantinetta (book, impossible otherwise), le Café des Epices (book), le Rowing Club (chez Gilbert), chez Vincent (simple, timeless), le Ventre de l'Architecte, la Villa, le Peron, l'Epuisette, le Yen, les Arcenaulx, almost anything in les Goudes (village in Marseille but way to the south on the coast road). Only places really to avoid absolutely are the crummy tourist joints on the south side of the Old Port--with the exception of the Café OM (very decent brasserie food), avoid anything on the Old Port within 100 meters of the McDonalds (yes, MdDo's). Good luck and enjoy your trip!

                          1. re: johnmarseille

                            Johnmarseille
                            Wow, this is wonderful. Thank you for the suggestions and booking advice. We will follow through and report when we return.
                            We do appreciate your suggestions and transportation advice. We will review the accommodations and then get busy with restaurant reservations. Again..... even the clear directions about the old port is very helpful. Merci beaucoup.

                    2. re: johnmarseille

                      I agree with you, John. Marseille is a dynamic, wonderful city! I have been there several times over the years and enjoyed every visit.

              2. re: miseenplacekh

                If you would like a drive into the amazing scenery in the mountains north of Pezenas, do consider a trip to St Gervais sur Mare. It's about an hour away, or a bit less, and the drive takes you through the pretty vineyards and hills of Roujan and Faugeres, and then into the Haut Languedoc National Park.

                St Gervais is only a small village, but it has a lovely new restaurant called L'Ortensia, where the chef is an exstudent of Alain Ducasse. I've written in more detail about our meal there, so you can find that on this board.

                It would be a lovely few hours out and would give you an idea of the area away from the coastal plain - and when you see the views from the restaurant you will think you have died and gone to heaven - it really is a beautiful spot, and they have huge windows looking over the valley and mountains, as well as a terrace.

                1. re: Theresa

                  Terrific we will, this was just on my radar but now we will make it happen. Thank you. I will look for your details on the board.

            2. I live in Vaison la Romaine. The only two places in town I would suggest are: Brin d'Olivier and Le Bistro du'O (in the medieval town on the hill.) The Brin d'Oliver has a Bib Gourmand.
              Usually, however, I go to Coteaux et Fourchettes in Rasteau. Great wine list, good, young sommelier, and very good food. 3 course lunch is about 23 euros, dinner about 30 euros. Nice terrace in back.
              No website but check them on Trip Advisor or Facebook.

              Another place I like in Cairanne is "le Tourne au Verre."
              http://www.letourneauverre.com/
              More casual, about 15 euros for lunch, with about 15 wines by the glass. Both of these places are frequented by people in the wine business.

              For a one star experience "Le Grand Pre" in Roaix is the place to go. http://www.legrandpre.com/
              They have a bistro "Preface" at the same location.

              There are tons of good, small places in the area but wasn't sure what you would like.

              5 Replies
              1. re: sderham

                Sderham
                Thank you, this is the stop we are most concerned about. We like small and good and bistro is fine. Not all meals need to be starred, just delicious.
                Can you confim the best markets around and the days? I have my eye on some linens (used or new).

                1. re: miseenplacekh

                  Absolutely the best and biggest market in the area is Vaison on Tuesday. Nyons on Thursday. The big l'Isle sur la Sorgue market (one hour away) is Sunday morning, but there is a brocante (flea market in the pm.)

                  All the markets sell linens, but Les Olivades ( a high en brand) has a factory store in St Etienne du gres, about 20 minutes from St Remy. http://www.provencefoodandwine.com/20...

                  Old linens--the brocante at L'Isle sur sorgue will have some. Will think if there are others.

                  Back to you tomorrow with small places to eat around Vaison. How long will you be there? You haven't mentioned wine tasting around Vaison--some of the greatest Rhone vineyards are nearby.

                  1. re: sderham

                    This is terrific information and I will report back and bring back examples. Wow thank you so much. Yes we would very much like recommendations as wine is a driving force for visiting this area.

                    1. re: miseenplacekh

                      sderham, we will be in Vaison la Romaine around 2-3 days, so we have a few evenings and would love some wine tasting suggestions. I do want to thank you again for the linen info.

                    2. re: sderham

                      Coteaux et Fourchette is a wonderful restaurant but it's actually located in Cairanne. We also like l'oustalet in Gigondas a lot.

                2. We spent a week in the Languedoc area and can recommend a few restaurants we thought were worth a visit and thoroughly enjoyed. But... just back from a trip and I'm brain dead so come back to see what I post later today or tomorrow.

                  If you need a good B&B for Limoux or Pezenas, write to my email (under my profile). We stayed at exceptional places!

                  1. "Any current suggestions about great places to eat in Girona?"
                    My rule there is to check chef's cv's out to be sure they spent some but not too much time at El Bulli.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: John Talbott

                      El Bulli closed in 2011, but Adria has moved on to the Basque area, he's working in Bilbao.

                      1. re: lemarais

                        Yes I know, table for 12; I was commenting on where to eat in Girona (the OP's question).

                      2. re: John Talbott

                        John Talbott
                        We are researching this right now and will post our ideas, if you are aware of anything after we post our plans please let us know. Thank you.

                      3. Suggetion: Instead of Marseille, stay in the nearby town of Cassis. It's only 20 minutes from the city, but a world away. Beautiful waterfront area with great restaurants in Cassis. Much quieter and more serene. Hop into Marseille for the day. The Calanques boats leave from Cassis. Gorgeous panorama of Cap Canaille.

                        Of course, if you want the ultimate bouilabaisse in Marseille, reserve at Chez Fonfon in advance. Not cheap, but the best in France. For bouilabaisse in Cassis, go to Chez Gilbert.

                        1. We are back from our trip to Spain and France. Some highlights include Girona, Figueres, Prades, Lagrasse, Limoux, Minereve, Pézenas, Sete, Vaison-la-Romaine, Le-Puy-en-Valey, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and Marseille. I  believe I should talk about Spain on another forum.... but Mas Pau (Hotel and Restaurant) in Figueres  was astounding and delicious. We enjoyed the tasting menu and several of the dishes were unique (asperagus cannnelloni - no pasta but rolled concentrate of asperagus) including the asparagus with mushrooms and foie gras, Jabugo vinaigrette and parmesan, and “Gimlet cocktails” gelee Iogurt, cucumber and “arengada” eggs Corneto. Wow.

                          Prades was remarkable not becuasue of any specific restaurants (they do have a lovely small market Tuesday and Saturday)  but because of Maison Prades the Chambre d’hote we stayed at. I can not describe how comfortable, and well taken care of we were there. We ate with them one night at the table d’hote, and had a wonderful Brazilian Moqueca and rice dish and an apricot desert that was stupendous. Prades is a perfect location to visit Collioure, exloring Villefranche-de-Conflent, and to ride the Yellow Train (Petit Train Jaune ) and go to the Hot Springs. Maison Prades was our top favorite for the way we were taken care of and the lovely breakfasts with home made jams and fresh fruit. Our trip over the  Pyreennes from Figueres was incredible, gorgeous scenery.

                          Limoux was a terrific location to see Carcassonne and the Canal Midi. We had some outstanding and beautifuly plated meals at Tantine and Tonton and on the square at La Tantina. The Blanquette de Limoux, Blanquette méthode ancestrale, and my favorite the Crémant de Limoux should not be missed.  We stayed at a lovely Gite called Les Sittelles just outside of town with an extrodinary view and two very helpful hosts. It was amazing to be across a small street and watch and hear as the sheep (listen to the bells) went down the mountain in the evening. On our hosts recommendatio we drove to Lagrasse and had a studpendous meal at the Hostellerie-des-corbieres. This is not to be missed both the food and service were extra-ordinary.

                          We chose Minereve because of Relais Chantovent. We were not dissapointed and were so happy to be staying there at be able to walk across the street after our stupendous meal. If you spend the night here (simple and small but clean) you have the village to yourself in the morning and it is truly beautiful. The Boulangerie truck honks at 9 am and residents pick up their bakery goods. The view from the deck at Relais Chantovent is magnificent and the service was excellent. You must walk into to the town so be prepared to pack lightly. There were two excellent wine stores in town and the local ansd typical wines were excellent.

                          Pézenas was a incredible. We stayed at a B&B called  De Fleures. We were perfectly located to walk into the old city, had incredilbe breakfasts on an indoor/outdoor patio on the second floor. Regina (our host) was terrific. Our room was comfortable and quiet (on the top floor). The staircase was small and windy but we got help with our bags going up. Regina found us off street parking so we did not have to even think about our car. Regina advised us on what and when to do things starting with Friday night. The Tour de France had just come through town so that was a bonus. Our first night was the Friday street festival with seafood, Paella, wine tasting and good music. This was the best venue for people watching with families in attendance and children playing and dancing and having a great time. We ate two remarkable meals. My personal favoriets were La Palmiers and L’ Entre pots. We also ate at Le Vieux Coq and the food was very good but the service quite odd.

                          While in Pezenas we went to Sete for the day, Sunday and it was beautiful. We found underground parking that was expensive but the city was packed as it was the Fisherman’s Fete and our meal at Chant de Mer was terrific.  We will go back to Sete as it was beautiful and water and canals the most beautiful color you can image. 

                          I will follow up with Vaison-la-Romaine, Le-Puy-en-Valey, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and Marseille. soon. 

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: miseenplacekh

                            Very nice report. Thank you.

                            Next time you are in Sète, do not, I repeat, not, miss the Tielle, either from Paradiso (11 Quai de la Résistance) or from the Tielle stand in the covered market just a couple of blocks away.

                            In Pèzenas we also stayed at de Fleurus (not Fleures) and loved it !

                            I am adding your Prades b&b recommendation to this fave thread of mine, started by Mangeur.
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759348

                            1. re: miseenplacekh

                              Hi ,
                              Would love to hear your experiences and recommendations in St Remy and Marseilles - we will be in both places in September and are trying to choose restaurants for dinners.

                              Thanks,
                              Susan

                            2. This is the last part of the report of our trip:

                              Thank you for the spelling correction for De Fleurus in Pézenas Paragi, it was a comfortable quiet and just outside of the main city so a good place to stay. Regina had great restaurant recommendations and nailed the best ice cream (sorbeto for us) in town.

                              Here is the continuation of our trip - sorry for the delay; life sometimes gets in the way of travel. This is long and includes Vaison la Romaine, Le Puy, Saint Remy de Provence and Marseille.

                              We could have spent much more time (then 4 days) in Pézenas at Chambres d’hôtes De Fleurus (I apologize for miss spelling this earlier) and the surrounding area; our next stop was Vaison la Romaine. We choose this town because of the Roman history and Archeological Museum, the very old medieval town, and to taste the wine located in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône vineyards. When you drive into the valley (under the presence of Mount Ventoux - if you follow the Tour you know the Mountain) the vineyards are quite spectacular. The vines are growing in some places in “soil” that was at the surface fist-sized rocks.

                              Driving into town our Chambre d’hôtes was adjacent to the space where they have the market. I have to admit we just missed the market and it broke my heart, but we did have a fantastic lunch in Orange on our way to Vaison la Romaine, Orange seems a nice town.

                              When we arrived in Vaison la Romaine it was a week before the Tour de France. As you might imagine bicycle fans surrounded us, determined to ride the course first. Our accommodations were Les tilleuls d’Elisee; this is a place you could stay for a while, a very long while. The breakfasts with some of the very best homemade jam we ate on our trip and classic fabrics and tableware set outside (with the family pets) were a true joy. Our room, which was appointed with crisp linens, polished floors, and high ceilings and the house does have soul. It is a short walk to town or the Market. Laurent and his wife are both amazing sources of information for exploring the entire area. He mentioned he has found an occasional roman pottery bit here and there around the area. There is also a Bio-Co-op very close for any odds and ends you may like between or for a light meal. You will not need anything for breakfast (yogurt, different bakery goods and jam, tea and coffee and fruit).

                              From Vaison la Romaine we made an adventurous drive to Le-Puy-en-Valay. Our GPS decided to take us the scenic route and when we realized what we were doing we were committed. It was beautiful but the smallest roads imaginable and we were driving at high elevations, with all kinds of farm animals and tractors, bicyclists, pilgrims (hikers) etc. The town is very dramatic. The market was maybe the best of our entire trip, our accommodations perfect, gracious, and close enough to get to town (via car) but far enough away to have a spectacular view.

                              We stayed at Les Jardins de Champfleury in Le-Puy-en-Valay hosted by Martine Bourdiol and her husband. What incredibly warm and charming people. We ate one night at their Chambre et table and really had to dig deep to listen and use our French (we were the only English speaking couple). It was a delicious and insightful meal. This is a modern house, with a beautiful garden and a 5-minute drive out of town. Our room was downstairs and clean, quiet and comfortable with kitchenette. The location is a little tricky to find at 133 bis avenue Foch (do ask for a business near by as a indicator of where to turn to drive up a steep driveway).

                              As we wanted to explore the area, we asked and we received clear and knowledgeable driving suggestions to many local villages. You cannot stay in Le Puy very long without learning (in detail) about the Pilgrimage (Camino de Santiago from Le Puy) and Martine and husband understand the transportation needs and conditions to begin this journey. We would return to Le Puy in a heartbeat, and stay at Les Jardins. Martine was very gracious and sensitive to diet concerns and her meal was delicious, served hot, and she included a terrific lentil dish for us.

                              The last two stops of our trip were Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Marseille. We spent 4 days in each place and enjoyed them both tremendously. Our home away from home in Saint Remy was Mas des Tourterelles. We would recommend this Chambre d’hôte with enthusiasm. This location is comfortable, close to town, with a nice pool. The rooms are lovely, clean and well appointed. This is a provençal farmhouse restored with care and an eye for detail. The breakfasts terrific with the home made jam, and local lavender honey, local fruit and melon, and baked goods. Do not miss the walking tour through the country and locations that inspired Vincent van Gogh.

                              Our favorite restaurants in Saint-Remy-de-Provence were Le bistrot decouverte and the Le Bar-Tabac des Alpilles. These restaurants are near each other and somewhat informal but we enjoyed them both. We had a great meal at the Bar Tabac des Alpilles on Bastille Day with the street blocked off and a terrific Jazz band for entertainment. We were advised that the Restaurant at Aberge de la Reine Jeanne was very good and had planned to go but we traveled to Avignon on that day and stayed late so it did not happen. We had a tremendous lunch in Avignon at La Fourchette. This meal was one of our best on the entire trip. It is a family run restaurant with terrific service and amazing food.

                              The final leg of our trip was Marseille. We dropped off our car and took the airport bus into town. We ate at Chez Fonfon and had a terrific bouillabaisse. We enjoyed ourselves and the picturesque little fishing harbor of Vallon des Auffes was gorgeous. Please note this is about 47 Euros per person, and we thought a little high for the meal, but we got to see the fish used and understand the nature of the dish. We were very happy to have chosen to eat lunch instead of dinner as we got to see the area and walk back to town with a view of the water (what color!).

                              We also ate at Malthazar in Marseille and it was very very good. Beyond food, we had the pleasure to see ‘Le Grand Atelier du Midi” at the Beaux-Arts. This is an outstanding painting show and should not be missed if you get to Marseille before October of 2013.

                              We stayed at Hotel Saint Ferreol in Marseille and we were very happy to have air conditioning although the Hotel is a bit run down. If you are a movie fan do stop by for a drink at Bar De La Marine. This is of course if you like to see the actual film locations and imagine how the director manipulates space. It is something to see, in this case, how the bottom of the stairs was used for the sequence where Colin Firth declares his love in broken Portuguese to Aurelia. It is a great bar and we enjoyed seeing the space.