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Luberon (very last minute) itinerary help please. Light lunch in Bonnieux/ Dinner in Maubec

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Hi

My partner and I are off to Provence tomorrow, this is a very last minute planning and I have not yet made any reservation (shame I know) I have only 2 days in Luberon and need to choose very wisely! Any last minute help here would be appreciated :)

Wednesday arriving at Avignon – we’re heading straight to our accommodation in Maubec. Possibly not arriving until 4-5pm. We will be very tired and will either want to eat at the hotel (if decent) or somewhere near.
- Is there any suggestion for a nice dinner in or very near Maubec? I read in the famous thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781261 that’s La Bergerie in Maubec serves decent pizza but I really don’t fancy pizza since I’m in France but if it is VERY good then I could be tempted :)

Thursday is the only full day I have. I plan to explore Bonnieux during the day, finding a light lunch since dinner may be heavy.
- Any suggestion here for a cafe or boulangeriethat we can grab something nice?

Dinner plan was originally at Le Casteles in Sivergues. I called them today but Thursday night is the only night they are closed! (may be a private function, what a shame). They are available for lunch but from what I read in other discussions is that this place is more special for dinner.
- Is it still worth booking for lunch? Wednesday night is also free but after over 6 hrs on a train I don’t think we’re going to want to far from Maubec.

My alternate plan for Thursday now is to book dinner at La Bartavelle in Goult instead (still trying but no one has yet picked up the phone!). Is there any other suggestion in case they are full? (will try to call again tonight and tomorrow morning).

Friday plan is to head to Lourmarin market in the morning, grab something to eat and explore the village. We want to be in Sisteron by dinner time to meet up with a friend, whose wedding we are attending on Saturday :

)

I might not get answer in time but it would still be good for future reference :)

Thank you very much!

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  1. Wednesday.
    On your way to Bonnieux is the wonderful traiteur Maison Gouin in Coustellet. Why not pack a sumptuous picnic lunch, then pick a nice spot in Bonnieux, or Lacoste, or Ménerbe, or Venasque, depending on your vibes? They are all near each other, all beautiful villages perchés.
    That evening, Bartavelle in Goult, which is ultra near Bonnieux. Backup: Le Fournil in Bonnieux.

    Thursday dinner: La Petite Cave, Saignon?

    Friday.
    Same MO as Bonnieux. I remember Friday morning is market day in Lourmarin. Get picnic stuff and picnic there or in nearby Ansouis. On the other side of the castle of Ansouis is a lovely little public garden shielded from wind ! That means that that day even if the Mistral blows everything to Africa, you will still be ok.

    My MO is to have a real dinner always, and a picnic lunch in one of the beautiful villages I visit. Overdoing the restaurant scene is one tragic way of wasting great food and wasting otherwise great experience.

    Bon séjour.

    17 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Thank you Parigi, what a great insight!

      For the evening we arrive I'm going to play it by ears as im still not sure what time or how tired we would be. But Maison Gouin sounds brilliant, I definitely will stop by on the way to Maubec, with or without a dinner plan! I'm a sucker for deli/food shop always. Is there any particular item that is a "must try"? .On the website it looks like a butcher(but then i cant read french), i assume they do cooked food too? and would they be speaking English at all?

      Going to call Bartavelle again tomorrow morning, finger x there will be some space for us on wed or thurs night! Would you be able to tell me how much it roughly cost?

      On Bonnieux visit the next day, picnic is definitely a good idea, if I like Maison Gounin (wish I'm sure I will) I will be happy to go back and get picnic things there again.

      Normally on a holidays I don't like to do the "tick off the list" on sightseeing places. I prefer to stroll around and really absorb to the local life. Love pretty landscape and ofcourse really good food :) Do you think Bonnieux is still a right place to stroll for the day? Or would I be able to fit 2 villages before dinner? May b I should visit Lacoste too.

      Can't wait for Loumarin market on Friday! Will look up for the good spot u mentioned in Ansouis.

      Thank you for your help! And such quick reply too. Much appreciated :)

      1. re: Coconuttie

        "Is there any particular item that is a "must try"?"

        O don't ask. Everything looks good and IS good. The must-try would be the beautiful wine cellar, lol. Do take photos.
        There are zillions kinds of pâté and good cooked dishes, roast chicken, …

        "On the website it looks like a butcher(but then i cant read french), i assume they do cooked food too?"
        Yes. Plus all kinds of cold cuts, also vegetable dishes, even desserts.

        "and would they be speaking English at all?"

        We spoke French, but I remember the staff spoke English to my friends.

        "Going to call Bartavelle again tomorrow morning, finger x there will be some space for us on wed or thurs night! Would you be able to tell me how much it roughly cost?"
        With wine, I remember about 55 to 60 euro per person.

        "Do you think Bonnieux is still a right place to stroll for the day? Or would I be able to fit 2 villages before dinner? May b I should visit Lacoste too."

        The villages are beautiful and small, and are quite a climb, esp Lacoste. 2 villages is not too strenuous.
        But you are guessing rightly at the essence of Provence. Never hurry it, and the savor will come out more.

        1. re: Parigi

          Only just got back from Maison Gouin, thanks for your recommendation. It was like a wonderland to me and everything looks really yummy. We are having the goodies later today for dinner (after I can drag myself out of a pool!)

          We went to Fournil for lunch as it seems dinner booking wasn't going to happen anywhere. Food was very good and lunch price is very reasonable. I had a beautifuly cooked fish and my partner had roasted rabbit, which i immediately jealous of. We shared an entree of pork confit terrine and some very interesting side that come with it. It tastes like mild ginger but since i couldnt read french i cant be sure (will post a photo if i can).

          My only complain is all the flies on the terrace. Didn't seem to bother any other diners but I couldn't really eat in peace and wanted to get out. Saying that it is summer and we were outside after all.

          Good news is I managed to book le Castelas for dinner tomorrow :) I had to give up a dinner plan with friends in Sisteron for this so I really hope it is a right choice!

          1. re: Coconuttie

            Yeah !
            My fave insect repellent is some Tiger Balm on the temple.
            Or medical metholated talc on neck and hollow of elbow…
            You can try to get some in a pharmacy. Ask for ""talc mentholé".
            Or bring your own citronelle-scented candle (should be easy to find in Provence markets) and put it lit under your outdoors restaurant table.
            For Le Castelas, try to go a little early, like 7pm or 7:30, and enjoy the out-of-this-world setting.

            1. re: Coconuttie

              Please be sure to report back on le Castelas, especially as to whether there are any animals hanging about. When we were there in May, there were none (other than a lonely baby goat). Gianni's nephew Leonardo claimed that once the weather warmed up, the animals (pigs/goats) would be back "home" - our concern being we want to go back in a few weeks with a group that will include a number of animal-loving-children. So I'd really like to know what you find. Thanks. BTW it's cash only.

              1. re: boredough

                Definitely will report back re le castelas. With many good write-ups I'm still quite apprehensive about the whole experience! Particularly because it seems like such a local hidden gem and we dont speak a single word of French. Very much looking forward to it thou.

                By the way I did try to book Auberge des Carrieres but thy are full until next week. There is always next trip :)

                1. re: Coconuttie

                  Re: Castelas - at least some of the staff speaks English, but it's really not necessary since there are no choices to make (& no bill to ask for - just get up & pay when you're ready). Just a small warning so you don't get 'dazed & confused' : when you get to the (very tiny) town of Sivèrgues, head straight-ish towards an old building (poorly) marked "Mairie". To its right is an unmarked dirt road that leads to le Castelas. It's bumpy & seems unending, but at some point you will see a valley on your left - a sign that the end of the road is not far away. Enjoy.

                  1. re: boredough

                    "an unmarked dirt road that leads to le Castelas. It's bumpy & seems unending, but at some point you will see a valley on your left - a sign that the end of the road is not far away."
                    The first time we went down that bumpy dirt road seemingly to nowhere (only about 2 km, single sort-of-lane), everyone in the car kept asking me: you sure about this? Of course I said sure. Of course I was not sure. Then surprise. Paradise.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      The same thing happened to us. I was convinced my husband was getting us seriously lost, or that our car just wouldn't make it, but he had read about le Castelas (Chocolate & Zucchini recommendation) & didn't expect a paved road or anything close to it. Thankfully we reached the end with no damages and a hearty appetite.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Thanks for the detailed directions. I am planning to go next Saturday evening.

                        1. re: sderham

                          Please report back, as the farm had gone through some iffy moments last year. And yes please spy on the sheep for us.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            Will take photos.

              2. re: Parigi

                Hey

                I wrote a report on Le Castelas here(a long one....probably too long....)

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/911227

                In short, it was great! as expected and beyond :) Just as everyone who has been there described....magical and quite surreal. Animal wise, there was one baby goat....

              3. re: Coconuttie

                Sorry I'm late to reply but in case you can't get into la Bartavelle (42€ for 3 courses without wine), try the Auberge des Carrières in les Taillades (37€ for 3 courses). ( L'Arôme in Bonnieux is closed WED/THU.) Dinner at Le Fournil is now up to 46€ for 3 courses.

                1. re: boredough

                  Seem like it is not my day really (or rather my lack of preparation!) La Bartavelle Is fully booked for tonight. Les Taillades is very near where we r staying, can you tell me a little more about Auberge des carrieres?

                  1. re: Coconuttie

                    Here's the link to Auberge des Carrières :
                    http://www.aubergedescarrieres.com/ho...
                    The frites there are fantastic, so I'd highly recommend the Boeuf if you can get a reservation. Have always enjoyed our dinners there so I doubt you'd be disappointed. Check out the recommended wine (of the week? month?) on the blackboard (outside on the terrace, where you will most likely be sitting).
                    You might also want to look into the Mas Tourteron in les Imberts (Gordes) - it gets very good reviews but we haven't been there yet & can't offer any comments. (Menu listed as 57€ on their website.
                    )As for Maison Gouin, here's the link:
                    http://www.gouin-traiteur.com/fr/maga...
                    I can't find their hours, but I'd expect the "traiteur" counter to be open until at least 6pm (give them a call to be sure...)

              4. re: Parigi

                Parigi mentioned having dinner at Le Petite Cave which is in in Saignon-- which is well worth touring. Sadly La Petite is closed this year, however the Chef /Owner Andrew Goldsby has just opened Le Petite Café just down the road on the place De L'Horloge.The cuisine is inventive and artisanal...
                typical of Andrew.The Café is in a splendid old building which has been lovingly restored-- and it has a terrace.
                Tapas & superb wraps for lunch among other things ...and it's all quite affordable ...and the dinner menu is always
                exciting. All in all one of most unique and informal dining venues in the Luberon.

              5. I don't know the village of Maubec. Restaurants are open at a certain time in France. Even in the provinces where people eat earlier, no one eats before 7pm. Others will dvise you much more expertly on Maubec.

                Again, the go-to delicatessen Maison Gouin in Coustellet is an 8-minute drive away. If you want to eat well and rest early, you may consider getting takeout from there. You can even ask them to heat the cooked dishes for you ("réchauffé, s'il vous plaît").
                Do visit the wonderful wine cellar … in the cellar!
                Actually Maison Gouin has a restaurant side. The food is good, not as good and the atmosphere not as funky as before, when it was the butcher's backroom! But it may be your user-friendly choice for that first day.

                1. La Bartavelle states on their web site that they take reservations between 9 and 12 in the morning. But since they are closed on Tues and Wed they may not answer the phone those days.
                  I called last week for a reservation and they answered right away. However they are small and get very busy in the summer and book up fast.
                  I find the Fournil to be inconsistent, both for food and service so now I don't go there. I really prefer L'Arome in Bonnieux.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sderham

                    "I find the Fournil to be inconsistent, both for food and service so now I don't go there."
                    I have lucked out and have eaten well there, but found the prices somewhat high. It is a nice village bistro in a lovely spot. No great food like Bartavelle. But the Le Fournil prices are par with Atelier Rabanel !

                    1. re: Parigi

                      I have also found the Bartavelle to be the best in the Luberon (though haven't been to Capelongue for quite a while.) Am trying Bartavelle again next week.
                      Seems like the Fournil is really high priced!

                      1. re: Parigi

                        No Bartavelle for me :( I will have to try harder next trip. Since L'arome is shut today I'm going to try my luck booking Le Fournil. It's the only proper dinner I will have for this trip and since it's my birthday on Sat I suppose we can pay a little extra for something special. If that fails then I'm a bit stuck really. Dinner in our hotel was charming and rustic to say the least (I did enjoy it though) but its did lack a little sophistication and would still love to have a proper meal out somewhere.

                        1. re: Coconuttie

                          Le Fournil is really not bad. The setting is enchanting.
                          If you want virtuoso food, would you consider driving to Arles? See if Atelier Rabanel has a spot. Saturday in July... But try. As they say in Motown about royalties, you don't ask, you don't get.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            Arles is a little far for us I think considering that we want to explore around here for the day:) we managed to book Fournil for lunch, the only thing we managed to book so far. Not sure if it will be comparable to their dinner but it's better than nothing :)
                            For tonight we will get some food from Mainson Gouin to eat lightly in the hotel instead (we have a little porch on our tree house)

                            Do you know what time it close? I can't find on the Internet anywhere.