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Jul 30, 2013 10:12 PM

Bistros, restaurants, food markets in the South of France

We are looking for restaurants, bistros, farmhouses, markets, (food festivals?) in the South of France. Will be driving from Nice to Perepignan, (near Barcelona) Oct 2-7 - five days to wander and find good and maybe off-the-main-path places. Nimes, Arles, Aix, Maybe Carcisonne, and maybe Gorges du Verdone too.
Thanks in advance for any recommendations.
-Doug Adler

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  1. every village of more than a few hundred occupants will have an open-air market at least once a week. google "marché xxxxx" to find the details, where xxxxx is the name of the village or departement you're interested in visiting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      Thank you - I will 'google' it that way and check for the days-of-the-week. thanks much

    2. This is a huge area you've described, and if you have only 5 days, you will have some very whirlwind and blurry experiences!

      I recommend cutting your area into at most a quarter of the size. Gorges de Verdon to Nice can keep you very very busy for many days. The food markets are endless, check with the OT sites for the daily markets, or the PACA site should have the whole area as well.

      Restaurants? Hundreds. Everyone has a personal favorite, but best is when you arrive at a town, walk around and check menus. They are all displayed prominently.

      Take the time to explore France, inhale it, go slow.

      8 Replies
      1. re: lemarais

        We intend to go slow and relax. Google directions show Nice to Barcelona by car in about six hours, so I thought five days was a good amount (and our limit for this part of the trip). But you are right, simply because one 'could' drive it in six hours, does not mean that five days is enough.

        We don't want whirlwind - so the question is How best to traverse that time & distance, with local food in mind. We don't mind driving by big pieces of that territory to slow down and enjoy other moments...

        So now I look for particular recommendations to steer towards... Thank you for the perspective!

        1. re: dougdude

          I would choose a base on the way that is beautiful, surrounded by other beautiful spots, and has good food.
          That would be either Arles or Collioure.

          1. re: Parigi

            Thank you. I think we may stay in Arles - what I'm gleaning from this thread, is that my wife and I ought to consider staying in one spot - or maybe two - and touring around. I was thinking a different village ea night - making our way from Italy to Spain...

            1. re: dougdude

              Excellent base, Arles. The lovely, compact town's extravagant market - Wedn and Sat morning - is one of France's best and is much more authentic than Provence's more famous markets like Isle sur la Sorgue and Vaison la Romaine.You are likely to cross paths with a few of the starred chefs who operate in and near the town.
              And, yes, Arles has a privileged concentration of good eateries, of all types and all budget, from the most stratospheric (Atelier Rabanel) to the cheapest but no less excellent traiteur (maison Génin, not related to Paris's chocolate god).

              1. re: Parigi

                Thanks Parigi - any other recommendations for places to eat in or around Arles? (Closer to maison Genin than Atelier Rabanel in price...)

                1. re: dougdude

                  Ferme-auberge Barbegal, just outside Arles, near the breathtaking Roman mill of the same name. If you don't mind, please look up other posts I have written on this farm-inn that offers dishes what the farm produces. There's no freshness like it.
                  There is a whole list of less expensive restos in Arles too, like l'Affenage and others. Please look up past posts and tell us what you think.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Absolutely will do that - thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

                    1. re: dougdude

                      The other bistros I have always liked in Arles are Au Brin du Thym and Cilangro, besides l'Affenage.
                      Rabanel has an aprentice bistro net to his Atelier, that is not bad at all, called, not very originally, Le Bistro à Coté.
                      I still recommend the 55 euro lunch tasting menu at Atelier Rabel. All the other didly village restaurants in Provence are starting to charge 50 euro or nearby. Why not have a truly memory meal at Atelier Rabanel paying 5 euro more. So you'll picnic a few times to make up for it, which really should be no hardship in Provence…

      2. Everyone has their own personal favorite, that's why with so may choices, restaurant recs may or may not work out for you.

        My choice of a base is the Vaucluse, the quintissential Provence of movies and photos. Some great towns for a base could be Gordes, Vaison, Lourmarin, or Menerbes for starters. The area is breathtakingly gorgeous, the Luberon range of pre Alps beckons, and there are endless things to see and do as well as some wonderful restaurants. In thee areas, every time you open your eyes it's like looking at a picture postcard!

        Bon sejour!

        1. And I love Avignon as a base. there is so much to see and do there, and it's an easy place to branch out to other towns and countryside nearby.