Best Provence restaurants

A round up of my favourite Provence restaurants (11 - 16 July 2015)

In my finale post on my Provence trip this July, I round up my favourite 4 restaurants which to me best summed up the best of Provence cuisine during my week long stay in this sunny part of France. If you are like me who plans their driving trips pretty much around the food, then look no further and read on here.

Le Jardin Du Quai 91 Avenue Julien Guigne, 84800, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Tel: +33 0490201498. Reasonable starting from 28 euros per head for a meal. Great for couples, friends and child friendly.

Our second day in Provence spent in this lovely flea market town of L’Isle Sur La Sorgue was made more complete with a lovely respite away from the maddening market crowds and heat at Le Jardin Du Quai for lunch. Run by husband and wife team – Daniel and Stephany Hebet, he takes care of the kitchen and food while the wife is in charge of service. It was really busy even at 1.30 pm for lunch and we were glad we made a reservation.

During summer, all the tables were placed outside the restaurant along the verandah terrace, with the main dining hall inside becoming an extension of the kitchen. We were eventually seated at the verandah and it had such a nice relaxing atmosphere, us gazing into the garden.

Exterior of the restaurant overlooking the garden.

Beautiful informal garden setting.

Love the placemat!

Beef tartare for lunch. Yummy!

Simply sublime apricot tart.

After being seated down and observing the cute placemat before us – a line drawing of the chef and his garden, the server shared with us the specials on the chalkboard for the day. Y and myself being the carnivores had the beef tartare of course, but the restaurant does some wonderful vegetarian dishes which was fantastic for CG. The aubergine gratine which CG had was just gorgeous, really showcasing the season’s food at it’s best. And we couldn’t help but keep eyeing the large apricot tart on the long central dining table in the restaurant, and had a slice to end our splendid lunch with.

To top this off, great French music by some performers hired by the neighbouring restaurant just made it all the better. It doesn’t get better than this. And if you also love looking at vintage furniture like me, the Village Des Antiquaries is just located conveniently opposite here.

Bistrot Du Paradou 57 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux, 13520 Paradou, France, Tel:+33 490543270. Around 50 euros a head for set dinner. Great for large groups of family or friends. Child friendly.

Located not too far from Les Baux Des Provence, this was a great location for dinner with a rough 20 minutes drive from our hotel in St Remy. Located amidst what looked like large villas in the area, the restaurant is housed in an old stone building. I read about this after doing some research online and it seemed like a nice chill casual place.

I learnt that new owners Jean Louis and Mireille Pons took over the restaurant a few years ago, updated the menu but kept the interiors pretty much as it is. There’s a great convivial atmosphere to the place making us feel right at home the moment we got seated.  We spent some time just checking out all the old posters, pictures of Jean Louis’ family on the walls and other memorabilia while waiting for him.

Jean Louis who looked almost like a one man show trying to manage the front of house, made us feel welcome after we sat down and were told the set menu for the night. This place only does set menus for lunch and dinner and the menu changes daily, which if I remember correctly, we paid around 50 euros for dinner which included a starter, main, cheese platter and dessert and a glass of wine. Y and I had the grilled scallops to start with and roast chicken for the main, while CG had a really hearty vegetable soup, followed by an eggplant, tomato with artichokes for the main.

The food was simple, hearty, typical Provencal style cuisine, and we were so stuffed after the first 2 courses, but of course Y and I had to have some of the cheese. Thank goodness we did as bravo not only to the cheese selection but the accompaniments such as the rum soaked raisins and the fruit jam was just to die for. By this time we decided to move out to the terrace to get some fresh air for cheese and dessert. It didn’t help that Jean Louis just placed it on our table for a really long time and I couldn’t help digging into it non-stop. So unfortunately, there was barely any room for dessert although they all looked so tempting!

Bistrot Du Paradou is a restaurant where the diners will end up talking to each other and that’s really what happened to us when they saw me dining with CG and Y. A little French girl couldn’t help but want to hug me and her mum said they call me Bisous Nous in French which means kisses. This place is a great place to stop by for simple Provencal bistro food with your family and friends. And remember to make reservations, and you can ask them in advance what they are cooking for the week ahead, so you can plan your visit around that!

Me and the cheese platter which the owner left with me for a looong time.

L’Oustau de Baumanière D27, 13520 Les Baux-de-Provence, France, Tel:+33 4 90 54 33 07. Most expensive in my list here, averages from 200 euros a head for tasting menu including wine. Fabulous for couples dating and small groups of friends, not so ideal for children.

Oustau de Baumaniere resides in a luxury hotel perched below the hilly roads with no more than about 20 rooms on a large sprawling estate. Located in the heart of Les Baux De Provence, it is not far from the medieval town that we missed walking when we visited the nearby Carrières de Lumières (see post) prior to dinner here. However, looking for this place wasn’t easy and we had to eventually call the restaurant to help navigate us to them, and we easily found it eventually.

The only fine dining restaurant in my top 4 list, this famed restaurant in Provence which holds presently 2 stars, is helmed by Chef Jean-André Charial, who also oversees their other restaurants – La Cabro d’Or and is also responsible for the beautiful herbs and vegetables that grow in their garden.

First glance of the gorgeous restaurant terrace.

Oh my look at the display of bread with the tree.

We couldn’t help but notice all the gorgeous flora and fauna that greeted us as we walked up the winding path to the restaurant from the carpark, even doing a double take at what looked like a little olive tree with the prettiest breads sitting below them, on of the centrepiece tables in the restaurant verandah.

Being summer as it is, all the diners were seated out here, and thankfully the heat had dissipated and it was just splendid seating here and admiring the surroundings. Even though the food is more fine dining in terms of the style of cuisine, plating, price and presentation, the service was attentive without being too obtrusive as we found while we sat here for the next 3 hours. I was just wondering while seating out here, that we should have booked to stay in this luxury famed Provencal hotel known for hosting the likes of Johnny Depp, Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Taylor.

We didn’t waste any time ordering the food and Y and I decided to have the 5-course 160 euros ‘Tradition” tasting menu with them proposing something similar to match for CG in total vegan format. You can see the slideshow below for some of the dishes I had, the starters showcased very well the seasonal vegetables for the season, and I had particularly enjoyed the pigeon sourced from Nimes. The wine list here was quite astounding, but given we all had such different palate for wines, we then opted for a glass of our favourite instead of having a bottle to share.

Most importantly, don’t forget to check out their hotel boutique which has curated some amazing home and kitchen ware items, which we had to resist buying due to our exploding luggages.

La Petite Maison de Cucuron Place de l’Etang, F-84160 Cucuron, Tel: + 33 (0)4 90 68 21 99. About 60 euros a head for lunch including drinks. Great for couples and families.

Located in the south of the Luberon region in this little quaint village of Cucuron sits this amazing restaurant which is my number 1 on this list. We drove up here on our last day in Provence from Aix taking around an hour with the traffic. Thank goodness they waited for us although we arrived almost an hour late from our intended booking. Recommended by Y’s bestie YW and also having read about it as Peter Mayle’s (famed author of A Year in Provence) favourite restaurant, it was enough to be worth a drive out to dine here for lunch.

Located in one corner of a pond was their signature yellow house, next to it was a vine covered terrace where diners were served out here during the summer. We were ushered to our table set amidst this cosy area with only a few other tables of diners with us.

When inside La Petite Maison, somehow it felt like I was in another world, the vine covered terrace created lovely shadows on our table while we dined, and we could almost sit out here the whole day. The inside of the house looked like it belonged to something from the yesteryears with old wood panelled walls and eclectic choices of chairs in the dining hall. Somehow I was glad we were seated outside in the terrace.

The service here was very personal and attentive which impressed me while we dined here. Manned only by 2 wait staff, a jovial French waiter quickly came to serve us, letting us know of the set lunch for the day. The 4-course set lunch cost 60 euros per head and the food came quite swiftly after we ordered.

I personally loved every course I had. We started with a chilled zucchini soup which was absolutely divine in this hot summer, followed by an amazing tuna tartare with french bean salad. The dressing was so appetising that Y and I could have gone for another round if not for having to save some tummy for the main course. The main course came served on a trolley, very reminiscent of old school French table service. The waiter quickly cut some figs and pan fried them before serving it with the duck to us. This was so delicious looking that CG had to ask some figs for herself too. I enjoyed this course too – given duck and figs are one of my favourite combinations. CG’s vegetarian option was also quite delightful, they plated a wonderful mix of seasonal vegetables lightly plancha.

Y and I had to order ourselves a glass of dessert wine to accompany the upcoming almost buffet like spread of desserts descending on us, and my only regret is we couldn’t buy some bottles back again due to our luggage weight. If you have a penchant for dessert wines like me, you MUST HAVE the Ambre Celeste 2011 by Domaine Des Enchanteurs. Apparently, it can’t be easily found in the shops and La Petite Maison is one of the exclusive restaurants who have it. An elegant muscat with soft aromas, it’s the perfect wine to go with the desserts we had which included an amazing apricot flan, a platter of berries with sorbet, passion fruit with panna cotta plus more figs! We were so stuffed but so happy. This is definitely a restaurant not to be missed.

Digging into the delicious desserts. So satisfied!

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