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Mar 26, 2014 10:50 AM

Ongoing Visit in the Gard

We are at the tail end of a 2 week stay in the Gard using a rented town-house in Uzès as our base. We had spent 3 nights here some 14-15 yrs. ago and vowed to come back for a more leisurely visit when circumstances permitted. We love the Lot & Dordogne valley areas as well as the Luberon among other areas in the southern part of France, but find that the villages of the Gard are perhaps a bit more "real" than the tourist laden villages such as St Cirq la Popie, Lourmarin, Sablet, St Remy de Provence, Ile sur la Sorgue, etc.

Uzès offers a favorable combination of size, history and facilities that appeals to us; there is a very good market on Saturdays and a smaller, more user friendly one on Wednesdays.

The preceding paragraphs are perhaps inappropriate on Chowhound so let me cut to the chase. Our favorite restaurant in Uzès is l'Artemise which we have visited for 2 lunches and one dinner (to celebrate a birthday of a Chowhound friend). The menu is the same at both services with a choice of 3 differently priced no-choice menus. If the weather is pleasant we prefer lunch as it is nice to dine on the terrace with the appealing views across the valley and the charming exterior of the buildings which were formerly the summer residence of the arch-bishop.

Just a cut below in ambiance is another spot we have also visited 3 times, La Table 2 Julien, in the neighboring village of Montaren. The young chef there has the best rapport qualité-prix we have experienced anywhere; a 3 course fixed menu at lunch for €24 that wowed us, shades of Daniel Rose when he had his original place up in the 9th.

Another more casual place with a charming terrace and well prepared food is 30 Sud in the pottery dominated little village of St Quentin la Poterie; friendly owner/chef/server, affordable and delicious.

The last place I will mention today is even more rustic and better known, often mentioned by the ever reliable Mangeur, called Le Tracteur, on the outskirts of the village, Argilliers. We have been twice and enjoyed it. The terrace is graced by its name sake, an ancient Massey Ferguson tractor. The interior escapes my ability to describe other than to use the over-used term "eclectic". The chef seemingly works solo behind a long, Waffle House type counter, turning out his 2 choice menu to a packed house even at this time which is not the high season. The walls are adorned with art work none of which screamed out "buy me", but the choices listed on the chalk board did. A very enjoyable place.

If anyone is interested in more than my sketchy details just ask.

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  1. Thanks for this, Laidback. This area is a favorite haunt of ours. I am sorry that I read your Uzes recs so late. We are already booked for room and dinner at Hostellerie Le Provençale and I hate to cancel reservations. We'll definitely keep your list for next year.

    Have or will you write up your stay in detail elsewhere?


    10 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      I will let the chat out of the sac.
      I am the other hound rooming & boarding - deliriously happily - with the Laidbacks. We ate marvelously and I frankly drank too much. Am now on a cure back in Paris.
      The dinner at L'Artémise was especially enchanting. I preferred it to L'Atelier Rabanel, just to cite another fabled restaurant not far away in Arles.
      Le tracteur was also very enjoyable, in a casual but very hip local ambiance.
      Btw, the Hostellerie Provençale is just a short block from the Laidbacks' beautiful 4-storey house. I would recommend to all the house with its two terraces and a big, well-equipped kitchen on the top floor, except to you, Mangeur, because I remember that staying in a house was against your principle, no ?
      Again, had the greatest long weekend in Uzès with the two mostests.

      1. re: Parigi

        You're breaking my heart, Parigi. Even as I feel your pain.

        I'm not against house rental, only against doing all the shopping, cooking and cleanup. We will have an apartment in Barjac in a couple of weeks, but DH said just last night that he only wanted to eat breakfast in.

        I dream about living the faux-local life and cooking up a storm from the market, but it just doesn't fit into the way we travel. We seem to be constantly on the go, leaving cooking to the last minute which results in disappointment all around, self-recriminations about what might have been and a list of woulda-shoulda-couldas.

        1. re: mangeur

          Just to break your heart further, may I add that one night hubby poo cooked a mean carré d'agneau with garlic-thyme-rosemary-olive oil rubbed in.
          There is the unique pleasure of being able to linger after dinner, and drink and laugh until all decorum is lost, that only a dinner in one's own house can offer.
          Even then, my absolute favorite moment is, hands down, early in the evening, when we open the first (of many) bottle(s), sit down together, yak and laugh and cook together.

          1. re: Parigi

            "Just to break your heart further..."

            You did.

            1. re: Parigi

              Our most entertaining weekend guests added a couple of very enjoyable in-home dinners. One pictured below is partially described by Parigi, she omitted the small roasted potatoes, young parsnips, the 1st white asparagus of the season and her own delicious garlic mayonnaise which she and I ate with everything including a spoon.

              Her well trained house-husband also prepared a 2nd, more casual dinner of sausages, potatoes, artichokes while breaking me up with his ever ready ironic observations. Again, Parigi's freshly whipped mayo was liberally applied to everything in sight. Costiere de Nimes wines were involved both times.

        2. re: mangeur

          Mangeur...I don't think you will be too disappointed in the Hostellerie Provençale or its way above average restaurant, "Le Parenthese". That is where we stayed our 1st visit several years back right after it opened.

          1. re: mangeur

            Mangeur, if you have some way of privately sending me your email, I will get it to you.

            1. re: Laidback

              An email address is on my Chow profile. Many, many thanks!

              1. re: mangeur

                The 1st should be in your inbox.

                1. re: Laidback

                  It is! Thank you so much, and as they say, Woopee!

          2. Would you tell of some of the dishes you ate at all three places.

            4 Replies
            1. re: allende

              I shall be happy to do just that but space and time constraints will limit me to one review per post. At l'Artemise there were 7 or 8 courses. Some of the highlights were starters of sliced smoked beets over an oyster/scallop tartare, brandade with bits of chorizo. Fish dishes were stuffed sole over young spinach accompanied by fresh green asparagus, and another time sandre which appeared to have been pan seared, served over a choucroute with baby clams and artichokes. A couple of meat dishes were a superb cutlet of entrecôte served with a baby turnip, onion and carrots as well as tasty potato croquettes. Another was a tenderloin of Pata Negra pork with new white asparagus served over a duxelle of mushrooms. Desserts and mignardises were fine but overkill.

              1. re: allende

                Our #2 favorite was, in spite of its cutesy name, "La Table 2 Julien" in Montaren, which is only about 2 miles from Uzès.
                The cuisine is impeccably fresh as the 3 course lunch menu for an unbelievable €24, changes daily. The setting is pleasantly modern and the service led by Julien's companion, the smiling Jennifer, is cordial and accommodating; one lunch visit the menu main course was fish and Jennifer sensed my wife's reticence and suggested substituting a meat instead. Two excellent starters from the lunch menu were, a serving of crunchy green beans with pine nuts topped with a pelardon rolled in sesame seeds and a slice of cured ham; the other a good asparagus risotto topped with 3 prawns. The mains were pork medallions with julienned vegetables and a quasi de veau served over a purée of sweet potatoes and lightly sautéed onions and peppers. I shall forego describing the desserts and mignardises and just state that they were delightful.

                1. re: allende

                  We profited from the pleasant weather by dining on the terrace of "30Sud" with a carafe of the pleasant house rosé. Ms. L. Had an unusual presentation of lamb brochette, the skewer with its generous chunks of delicious lamb is suspended vertically over the plate from a metal stand...easy to slide the pieces down directly onto your waiting plate.

                  I had an entire magret du canard, nicely roasted with a crisp exterior and pink interior. It was sauced with a reduction of its juices and cassis...I ate it all.

                  Both plates were served with crushed potatoes, a well-dressed salad and roasted tomatoes.

                  Dessert was a trilogy of a raspberry macaron, chocolate ganache cake and a scoop of pineapple sorbet. If you are overcome with hunger while pottery shopping you could do much worse than this friendly little spot on the Place aux Mortes in St Quentin la Poterie.

                  1. re: Laidback

                    What has me salivating more than the food is the dining en plein air. We had rain, sleet and snow in DC yesterday! So color me a deep green. :-)

                    Just wanted to say I've been enjoying your report, Laidback - thanks for posting.