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Anniversary dinner in or near Avignon

L'Isle Sonnante is under new ownership and we were really disappointed the last there. I think La Fourchette which is just down the street is very good.

Sep 14, 2014
Pammel in France

Using a Credit-card .. at Bistro/boulangerie or patisserie

Definitely need Euros outside of Paris. Neither boulangerie in our village or the cafe take credit cards. I would suggest that you check with your US bank to see if they have a correspondent relationship with a French bank. For example, Bank of America has such a relationship with BNP Paribas so there is no ATM fee if you use BNP Paribas ATMs to withdraw cash. There is a foreign exchange fee but no ATM fees from either bank. I have withdrawn money hundreds of times in France without problem.

Jul 06, 2014
Pammel in France

First Lunch in Provence - help please

A few years back I made the fateful decision to go from the Marseille Provence airport to lunch in Marseille at Fonfon. I was wanting bouillabaisse. Well the bouillabaisse was wonderful but while I was eating I discovered upon returning to my car that someone had broken the small side window and opened the car and pulled down the backseats and emptied out my trunk. Nothing in the trunk could be seen. So what I am trying to say by way of example, I would go to where you are staying and drop off your luggage and then figure out what you are going to eat. I have returned several times including a couple of weeks ago at La boite a Sardine, to eat in Marseille without problem. But I vowed I would never go to Marseille again before I emptied my trunk. We have a house in the Vaucluse and come several times a year.

Apr 15, 2014
Pammel in France

1 Day in Avignon/Ch-de-Pape

Relative to picnicking near the ruins of the Papal Palace, that is great if the Mistral is not blowing. It is very exposed up there and when the Mistral is blowing much at all, it can be quite unpleasant. Be prepared to make alternative plans.

I agree that doing a visit to Avignon, then lunch, will not leave you very much time to visit CDP.

Many of the "caves" around the center of the village have no ties directly to any wineries.

Vinadea is owned by the trade association and have a very good selection of wines to taste and buy on site.

If you are making the trip to CDP, I would encourage you to go one or two of the wineries and taste there especially if you speak French. Unless you are an importer, you won't be buying a lot of wine so you might as well go somewhere and have a great experience.

A couple of the wineries where you will be warmly welcomed with or without advance appointments are Domaine de la Charbonniere, Clos du Mont Olivet, and Clos du Caillou. At Charbonniere, both daughters speak very good French.

Apr 01, 2014
Pammel in France

Thoughts on our restaurant choices in Carcassonne, Provence, & Nice?

L'Oustalet Maianen does not have a web site so you can't find menus. As Boredough said, they serve very good Provencal food. I don't know if you read French but I will attach a picture of the menu we chose. They also had specials in addition to the items listed. I will also attach some picture of our main courses, pan roasted cod on tomato confit with sauteed zucchini and star anise sauce and rabbit three ways. We generally find that restaurants that have earned Bib Gourmands from Michelin's Guide to Bonne Petite Tables such as L'Oustalet Maianen serve very good food for a modest price.

Mar 21, 2014
Pammel in France

South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

In Marseille, the two mainstays for Bouillabaisse are Fonfon and Chez Michel. The most recent issue of Saveur Magazine has a feature article by Alexander Lobrano about best restaurant choices in Marseille. We ate at La Boite a Sardine this past week there and it was wonderful. They serve the best fresh and unusual fish and seafood but they do not serve Bouillabaisse.

Visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape but don't eat there; nothing special. Probably best to eat in Avignon and then go for 1/2 day to CDP. We like l'Essentiel and La Fourchette a lot in Avignon.

Mar 19, 2014
Pammel in France

Thoughts on our restaurant choices in Carcassonne, Provence, & Nice?

We just returned from our semi-annual sojourn in Provence. We own a home in Sablet (next door to Gigondas) and eat out almost every day at lunch while we are there.

L'Oustalet in Gigondas is very good but will probably not offer their truffle menu much longer. We went to the truffle market in Riverenches two weeks in a row, and the second week, the truffle sizes and quantity were significantly down. Alternatively, Coteaux et Fourchette in Cairanne is excellent too. We also love Le Tourne au Verre in Cairanne but were sad to find out the current owners have sold the restaurant and will be leaving the end of this month.

I can confirm that Bistrot du Paradou is only open for dinners on Fridays and Saturdays right now. They serve lunch only on Tuesday through Thursday. Alternatively, I would highly recommend L'Oustalet Maïanen in Maillane, about 7 km northwest of St. Remy. We have eaten there several times and the food is very good; they got a Michelin Bib Gourmand the last two years.

In Avignon, we like L'Essentiel a lot but don't go often because the menu doesn't change much. We also like La Fourchette a lot. The menu is quite large and they also offer daily specials.

Hope this helps.

Mar 19, 2014
Pammel in France

Any recommendations for bouillabaisse in Cassis, or other faves off the water front?

we have had excellent meals at Bonaparte where chef Jean Michel serves great fresh fish and soupe de poisson. We have also had excellent meals at Fleur de Thym. We have not had bouillabaisse at either one. We go to Cassis several times a year. we avoid all of the harbor side restaurants.

Oct 26, 2013
Pammel in France

Restaurant Suggestions: St. Remy, Bonnieux, Aix en Provence, Marseille

I think that Boredough's recommendations are very good. I will reiterate what he says about restaurant service hours; the all day dining option is not very commonly found in France, especially in the provinces. Most restaurants start service at 12, 12:15 or even 12:30 and most finish service by 2:00 PM. If you are going to try and go in somewhere without reservations, do so at the beginning of service. It is not unusual to see guests walk into a restaurant at 1:30 PM with many open tables and be turned away with "désolé, nous sommes complet." (sorry, we are full). Most restaurants don't turn tables several times like we are used to in the USA; so plan accordingly so you are not disappointed.

We have eaten at Le MilleFeuille in Aix and enjoyed it very much. I don't think you will go wrong, the chef/owners are l'Oustau de Baumanière alum. We have not eaten there, but foodie friends recommend Le Poivre d'Ane very highly.

Aug 07, 2013
Pammel in France

Restaurant Suggestions: St. Remy, Bonnieux, Aix en Provence, Marseille

With all due respect to those who give replies on Chowhound, don't forget that the opinions expressed are just one point of view, that of the author. I think that your choices need to be prioritized based upon what is your focus; sightseeing or food/meals?

We have a house in the Vaucluse and spend about two months a year over the course of 3 or 4 visits at different times of the year. I agree with Parigi that your proposed schedule for Tuesday is too ambitious. Definitely skip Orange, although the Roman Theater is unique in Europe, you can't do everything.

I think you should either visit Uzes, and the Pont du Gard and little villages plus lunch or Avignon, lunch and the Pont du Gard. I really think that Avignon is not to be missed and there are some wonderful places to dine there. We keep discovering new corners of Avignon every time we go there. If you were proposing to go on Saturday, I would lean to Uzes because the market is wonderful.

I disagree about not going to Gordes and Roussillon. They are full of tourists for a reason and that is they are unique beautiful villages, the former cut out of the rock and the latter is colored with 17 shades of ocher. September will be less crowded than June through July and in fact they are both practically deserted January - March. We have visited these villages plus Venasque, St Saturnin les Apt, and Goult multiple times. Having been to all of these and shared pictures on my blog several times, I think you will have made a bad trade if you don't go to Gordes and Roussillon. Stay with your original plan.

I would also mention that if you go to the St. Remy market on Wednesday, then to Bonnieux to check in, lunch somewhere, you are not going to see much of anything else that day. If it were me, I would visit the market (or maybe not, as it is not one of the best in my opinion), then go to Gordes and do a simple lunch, go down the hill to see the Senanque Abbey, then to Roussillon before you head to Bonnieux.

As I said these are personal opinions and this is mine, unless you love antiques, skip l'Isle sur la Sorgue. For me, there is not enough reason to go unless antiques are one of your priorities. Instead, consider going to Lacoste and Oppede le Vieux. Truth be told, I am not a big fan of Menerbe, I find it very sterile.

We had a wonderful lunch at L'Arome in June and recommend it highly.

If I were you, I would consider going early to Cassis on Friday morning on the Mediterranean Sea, charming village and there is a vibrant market there on Friday morning and there are several very good wineries (Domaine de la Paternel and Clos Sainte Magdeleine) right around the village, and go from there to Aix on Friday afternoon. I think that Friday afternoon and Saturday will be plenty of time in Aix. If you go to Cassis, skip the restaurants on the port. Spectacular views and people watching, but generally bad food. Go off the port to Restaurant Le Bonaparte, very fresh seafood and friendly servers and chef.

Just my opinions, as I said. Hope this helps.

Aug 06, 2013
Pammel in France

Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Vaison-la-Romaine recommendations?

In Vaison-la-Romaine, I would suggest Brin d'Olivier. If you have a car, I would suggest you consider L'Oustalet in Gigondas and Coteaux et Fourchette in Cairanne, both about 15 minutes away. North of Vaison, you might consider Le Laurier in Faucon.

Jul 13, 2013
Pammel in France

Interesting Restaurants Near Avignon?

We live in Northern CA and also have a home in Provence about 30 miles from Avignon. In addition to Le Mirande, three restaurants we like in Avignon for lunch/dinner are L'Essentiel, La Fourchette, and Le 5 Sens. We are not big fans of Hiely Lucullus. Nearby, we like Coteaux et Fourchette in Cairanne, L'Oustalet in Gigondas, Le Bistrot du Paradou in Paradou, and Maison Bru in Eygalières.

Jul 13, 2013
Pammel in France

Americans are getting a bad reputation at Provencal restaurants

It is Saturday night here in Sonoma County in Northern California and I was just talking to our front of the house staff about 3 tables that made reservations but did not show for their reservations tonight.

Unfortunately no-shows are a problem for every restaurant both in Provence and in the US. We require credit cards for groups of 6 or more on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In California, we can't just charge a credit card for not showing up for a reservation. So what we and other restaurants do, is charge a fee per guest and then we send them a Gift Card for the amount of the charge so they are getting something of value for the charge.

I wonder if some of the problem in Provence is that some of the travelers to the area do not have cell phones that work in France which would be the case for anyone who has a contract with Sprint and a couple of others, and if they are out away from where they are lodging, may not be able to call.

I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt to people in hopes that these people are not just blowing off their reservation.

Jul 13, 2013
Pammel in France

Northern Vaucluse, near Drome

In addition to writing about Auberge de la Clue in Plaisians noted below, we have also enjoyed wonderful meals at Le Poème de Grignan Restaurant in nearby Grignan, and La Charrette Bleue in Les Pilles. The latter is a good place to after the Thursday morning market in Nyons. With a large group including kids, a wonderful place to go for dinner is to La Maison Bleue in Villedieu. You can sit outside on the village square under the plane trees; a fabulous experience. We recommend that you eat out at lunch and eat in at dinner except if you go to La Maison Bleue where it's primarily pizza from the wood-burning oven.

Jun 21, 2013
Pammel in France

Returning in mid-April for honeymoon - BOURGOGNE, LYON, LUBERON/PROVENCE

From the way you write about your arrival time into Avignon, it seems you may not have bought TGV tickets and reserved seats yet. I would do so right away since you are hoping to travel on Saturday morning. Also picnic in Isle sur la Sorgues could be iffy for April, good chance weather could be chilly so if you want to lock in plans better reserve a table in Avignon. Just so you know, Ansouis and Cucuron are not "drive around" villages. You will have to walk/hike as streets are pedestrian only.

Mar 28, 2013
Pammel in France

Returning in mid-April for honeymoon - BOURGOGNE, LYON, LUBERON/PROVENCE

The schedule for Monday is awfully ambitious especially if you take time for lunch and you walk up to the church in Oppede-le-Vieux. We love all these villages but just saying it will be impossible to do this if you factor some stopping for pictures and wandering in and out of shops and galleries.

Mar 23, 2013
Pammel in France

Returning in mid-April for honeymoon - BOURGOGNE, LYON, LUBERON/PROVENCE

I agree with boredough about Cassis. Just stay away from the restaurants on the port. If you eat in town, go to Le Bonaparte Restaurant, it's a few streets off the port. Impeccably fresh seafood.

Mar 23, 2013
Pammel in France

Languedoc, Luberon, Provence and Girona and Calella

Coteaux et Fourchette is a wonderful restaurant but it's actually located in Cairanne. We also like l'oustalet in Gigondas a lot.

Mar 23, 2013
Pammel in France

Caterer/restaurant in Sebastopol area?

I own Bistro Des Copains in Occidental which is not too far from Sebastopol. We have a kid friendly menu, at least we have lots of young foodies who come to eat with their parents. But we don't really do catering. I can suggest you contact Rocker Oysterfeller's in Valley Ford. http://www.rockeroysterfellers.com/ They will do a very nice job for you.

Feb 15, 2013
Pammel in San Francisco Bay Area

Help narrowing down dinner around Sonoma?

Living in Sonoma County, it seems a lot easier to get to Santa Rosa and Healdsburg or down to Petaluma than to drive Highway 12 to Sonoma. The Girl & The Fig is very good if you decide to go. Rosso's is great for pizza in Santa Rosa and Willi's Wine Bar offers great small plates on the north side of Santa Rosa; perfect for sharing. West of town towards the coast, there is an excellent restaurant called Zazu. In Healdsburg, Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar is excellent, again also meant to be shared. Scopa is excellent authentic rustic Italian food and the chef has recently a new venue in town called Campo Fina which is excellent as well. I would go to any of these three before Zin, which is good but not something you can't find in lots of towns.

Feb 12, 2013
Pammel in San Francisco Bay Area

Provence June 22-30 2012 Need restaurant help

We have eaten lunch several times at L'Essentiel and recommend the restaurant very highly. I have previously linked pictures and details from my blog.

Monday, I had a fabulous lunch at La Mirande behind the Pope's Palace in Avignon. It was an outstanding meal and we will go back for sure. The chef came out to chat with me after the meal and invited me to come back and see the kitchen and meet his equipe and then showed me how he prepared the Daurade sauvage before taking me on a tour of the old historic kitchen on the lower level where they offer cooking classes Monday - Friday. I have attached a picture of the Daurade Sauvage part of the that day's Menu du Marche.

Jun 26, 2012
Pammel in France

bouillabaisse in nice

Several years back we had a wonderful meal including Bouillabaisse at L'Ane Rouge on the port in Nice. I just checked and they still have Bouillabaisse on the menu but it must be ordered in advance. Here is their web site http://www.anerougenice.com/

Jun 16, 2012
Pammel in France

Provence and Cotes du Rhone

It is a shame you don't have transportation because there are many wonderful places to eat a short distance from all of these towns. We live part of the year in the Vaucluse and have had the chance to try a lot of restaurants. We like Hiély-Lucullus but I think we have enjoyed our meals more at Essentiel Restaurant in Avignon. I have attached a link to a recent post I wrote about the restaurant on my blog. http://www.sablethouse.blogspot.com/2...

May 18, 2012
Pammel in France

Recs in the Luberon: Rousillon, Gordes, Menerbes, Bonnieux

We ate at Resaurant David in Roussillon last October and it was not much more than average. I would definitely look for other options.

Mar 19, 2012
Pammel in France

Need restos in Carpentras or Mazan

We live part of the year in Sablet which is about 20 kms north of Carpentras. Unfortunately, there are not any great restaurants in either Carpentras or Mazan. Friday morning there is a large market which occurs throughout the year in Carpentras. Afterwards, we go many times to eat lunch at Chez Serge which is located very near the main market area.

Skip L'Oulo in Mazan; we have eaten there and it didn't live up to expectations at all. I was about the only person there in the restaurant on a winter evening and the chef spent a long time complaining to me about the fact that the Michelin inspectors had overlooked his restaurant.

To the north of Carpentras, there are several very good/excellent restaurants including L'Oustalet in Gigondas, Les Abeilles in Sablet, Le Grand Pré in Roaix (Michelin star), Campagne, Vignes et Gourmandises in Sainte Cecile les Vignes and Coteaux et Fourchettes in Cairanne.

We recommend all of these restaurants. I have pictures of the restaurants and food on our blog www.sablethouse.blogspot.com I hope this helps.

Feb 12, 2012
Pammel in France

Montpellier and around

You don't say when you are going to be in Montpellier as come summer there are a few more options on the beach.

We have cousins who live near Montpellier but work in the City so we get over to see them and eat a various restaurants in Montpellier when we are at our home in Provence.

We have had a great meal at Jardin des Sens but it would definitely not qualify as an informal bistro in terms of the food, service or price.

We have had several wonderful meals at Insensé Restaurant at the Musée Fabre near Place de la Comédie. This restaurant is also owned by the Pourcel brothers but we really like it. I posted pictures of the restaurant and food on my blog http://www.sablethouse.blogspot.com/2...

This fall we had a very nice meal at Le Petit Jardin Restaurant on a very narrow street near the Faculte de Medicine. I have not posted about this yet on my blog but will do so eventually. I have attached a picture of the restaurant to this post..

Will you have a car? There are also some very nice restaurants just to the north of Montpellier in the wine villages of the Pic St. Loup area.

Feb 11, 2012
Pammel in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Just returned from two weeks at our home in Provence. We have cousins in Montpellier so we always go there several times to meet up with them. While we did not go to Insensé this time, we have been there a number of times and enjoyed our meals very much. I posted some pictures from my blog from earlier this year. Earlier this week, we went to eat at Let Petit Jardin which is close to the cathedral. It was excellent and I definitely recommend it to you.

Oct 21, 2011
Pammel in France

ile sur la Sorgue France (near Avignon)

With all due respect, Isle sur la Sorgue although not too far away is not in the Luberon but rather in the Vaucluse plateau in the plains of Comtat Venaissin. Kurtis's lengthy review which you will find in a Luberon search is outstanding and a good source for you, especially for restos to the east and southeast of Isle sur la Sorgue.

Oct 05, 2011
Pammel in France

Aix en Provence or near by towns? Ideas.

My first suggestion is that if there is anyway for you to afford it rent a car. Aix is very close to many wonderful places near the sea and Luberon but you won't be able to get there by train. You will waste a lot of time waiting for bus. It will be a shame and a waste of a trip to the area if you don't have a car.

Sep 11, 2011
Pammel in France

Provence restaurant recommendations_Arles and Cassis

We are in Cassis three or four times a year. We have never had a good meal on the waterfront. However, back in April, we had a very good lunch at Fleurs et Thym and then in July at Le Bonaparte. Both restaurants are located around the corner from each other a block or so off the water front. Both restaurants are long time fixtures in Cassis and owned by their chefs. This is not Michelin star dining nor is there a view of the sea but they are far and away the best meals we have had so far in Cassis and we will definitely return

Aug 09, 2011
Pammel in France