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Provence & Cote d'Azur - recommendations/itinerary critique

We (my husband and I) will be traveling to Provence & the Cote d'Azur this summer...we are trying to eat delicious food, and generally trying to avoid very formal presentations. Also -- we love seafood (I've traveled through Normandy/Brittany several times just for the oysters), and while this won't be a seafood trip, we are really looking forward to some sea urchin in Cassis...

Thanks so much for your advice!

Day 1
Travel from Nice airport to our hotel in Les Baux
-Any recommendations on where to eat about halfway there?
-Dinner in St. Remy at Bistrot du Paradou

Day 2
-Lunch at Auberge de la Loube in Lourmarin (second choices are La Fournil or L’Arome)
-Dinner at Sous les Micocouliers, Eygalières

Day 3 -
-Lunch in at Bistro Jean Luc Rabanel in Arles OR at L’Essential in Avignon, depending on timing
-Dinner at Le Bistrot Decouverte, St. Remy

Day 4
-Lunch at La Petite Maison de Cucoron in Aix-en-Provence OR in Cassis at Nino’s or Chez Gilbert
-We will then drive to our hotel in Eze: dinner at Cafe de la Fontaine, Turbie

Day 5 -
-Lunch in Nice at Flaveur, Bistrot d’Antoine, or Le Safari
-Early dinner in Villefranche-sur-Mer at L’oursin Bleu or Cosmo Bar

Day 6
-Depart

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  1. I think you wanted to post this in France rather than Italy.

    1 Reply
    1. Have you checked the days of operation of your chosen restaurants? Closing days vary: SUN/MON (Bistrot du Paradou in le Paradou - not St Rémy; Sous les Micocouliers in Eygalières) - MON/TUE (le Fournil in Bonnieux; la Petite Maison in Cucuron - not Aix) - WED/THU (l'Arôme in Bonnieux; Auberge de la Loube in Buoux).
      Depending on your schedule, I'd swap out Sous les Micocouliers for le Mas du Capoun in Mollégès (closed for dinner TUE/WED). I'd also take le Fournil or l'Arôme over the Auberge de la Loube (disappointing). And although Bistrot Découverte is a nice choice, you might like Chez Gus (also in St Rémy) where you could have an oyster fix (or other shellfish). As for lunch on your first day, depending on when your flight arrives, le Mas d'Entremont in Aix might work for you. It's not actually in the city (which would be hard to negotiate, especially with jet lag) - but on the National Route #7, easy to reach from the autoroute. We haven't dined there ourselves, but have heard good things about it from friends. (Closed MON lunch) Keep in mind that lunch is generally served from noon to 2pm.
      BTW : Where are you staying in les Baux?

      3 Replies
      1. re: boredough

        Boredough -- thanks so much for this. We're arriving on a Thursday, so our schedule will work! I'll look into le Mas du Capoun now.....thanks for the Chez Gus recommendation also.
        We land at 12.30pm, so I think the farthest west we will get in time for lunch will be the Grasse region...any ideas? :) We just would like to make a little headway before having lunch.
        We are staying at Oustau De Beaumaniere

        1. re: jrrnyc

          Can't help you on Grasse, but by the time you get through Immigration, get your luggage, pick up your car, find your way to Grasse & park your car, it might be close to 2pm. If I just had to have lunch at a place that wasn't a rest stop on the autoroute, I'd stop in Cagnes-sur-Mer and find a casual place along the water.
          Re dinner at the Bistrot du Paradou: Assuming you like escargots and they're not on the menu that night, ask the waiter if you can have them anyway. (They usually have them on hand.) The preparations for this dish as well as their crème brûlée are classic and delicious (and perfect IMO).

          1. re: boredough

            That makes a lot of sense. Thank you!! :)

      2. Jean Luc Rabanel- one of the great meals of the last 10 years. Also one of the longest. So if you're going to have lunch there,see everything else in Arles you want to see first,because after lunch you're going to want to take a nice nap:) a wonderful meal !

        4 Replies
        1. re: pammi

          Rabanel may be my fave restaurant in Provence, but it does not sound like the kind of place for the op who is "trying to avoid very formal presentations".
          Nor is Flaveur.
          I like both places, and have no aversion to "very formal presentations", but it is something that the OP specifically tries to avoid, in so many words.

          1. re: Parigi

            Thanks Parigi! is that true of the Bistro as well? We were not planning on going to the Atelier....

            1. re: jrrnyc

              So sorry, you are right: when I saw Rabanel, I started getting shortness of breath.
              Also, when I read Pammi's "Jean Luc Rabanel- one of the great meals of the last 10 years. Also one of the longest", I made the supposition that she was talking about he Atelier, because the bistro is not that outstanding and a meal there does not take long at all. For a meal at the Atelier temple, indeed, 4 hours is not outrageous.
              No, the bistro is quite casual, and also not that good. We once had a very dry chicken there. And with all the good eats in Arles, we have not been back. But we stay huge fans of the Aterlier next door.
              Another name on your list, Flaveur: I who have been an enthusiastic fan for years,did not have an outstanding meal last time (2 months ago). Even though the food is still very good, the price has gone up about two-fold for the same quality and quantity. Also, when I say the food is still very good, the only difference that I can see since the substantial price jump is that the food execution and presentation were quite fussy this time, with no improvement of taste.
              Flaveur has been my fave restaurant of Nice. I hope I had chanced upon an off night?
              Meals, casual or not, take time in France, especially in a region like Provence that venerates leisure. Your restaurant list seems too ambitious in terms of both timetable and stomach space. Scheduling one major meal a day is quite enough. Overeating is a discount of pleasure, not compounding of pleasure. Especially with your even more ambitious driving plans. The lunch-at-Cucuron-dinner-at-La-Turbie day is especially eye-popping. While you eat and drive and eat and drive and eat and drive, it is nice to get out and walk a little. :)

              1. re: Parigi

                Thanks Parigi...basically, each day is planned around getting to one or sometimes two destination(s)and then having dinner back near our hotel...

                In the case of Cucuoron/La Turbie, we will be leaving Les Baux and driving to our new hotel in Eze, so my thought was to eat lunch in or around Aix-en-Provence, walk around a bit, and then drive to Eze. We will probably get there around 6pm or so (hence the dinner in La Turbie).

        2. I hate to throw cold water on your plans, but as a former consultant to independent travelers in France, I recommend more active days and only one good meal in the evening that does not require you to drive.

          Also find some good bouillabaisse. It's made best with little Mediterranean rockfish and you can't find the real thing anywhere else. $$$

          1 Reply
          1. re: collioure

            "I hate to throw cold water on your plans, but as a former consultant to independent travelers in France, I recommend more active days and only one good meal in the evening that does not require you to drive"
            Exactly what was said upthread by this non-consultant to independent travelers.