How much are you willing to pay for a restaurant meal?
Are Michelin star restaurants worth it in France where a plat du jour costs 12 euros and is always decent if not delicious?
As I’ve been creating more and more itineraries for visitors, I have to know about the restaurants around here. What a fantastic excuse to spend money eating out when it isn’t really in my budget…anything for research!
Restaurants are difficult to recommend as many people have a different idea of what a good restaurant is. Just use Tripadvisor as an example. I don’t trust the site for restaurant reviews anymore.
Also, the nature of restaurants allows for the fact that you can have an entirely different experience depending on the day. This is why I don’t tend to write reviews. To do them justice, I’d have to go at least twice. Other than the local pizzeria, that can get expensive!
How do you Spend your Money?
I find it fascinating the different ways in which people spend money. Thankfully, I’ve moved to France where I fit into the basic population in the sense that I spend a large portion of my earnings on wine and food. If I were to die tomorrow- at least my belly will have been full! In a country where people seem to talk about food constantly, no one other than the old lady next door thinks I’m crazy for refusing to shop at Lidl or Aldi. I just enjoy food shopping too much.
The natural choice for Robin and I to gift to each other is either cookbooks or restaurant meals. For my birthday, he and my parents (thank you!) bought 2 nights stay in beautiful Mas de la Rose in Orgon, just next to Eygalières. The first evening, we ate at Le Potager du Mas, the restaurant on the property. The TripAdvisor reviews are excellent as was the food. Restaurant meals are excuses to eat that wonderfully thick creamy asparagus soup that has an amount of butter you wouldn’t dare to add at home. At least, I wouldn’t. Perhaps I lived in North America too long.
Le Potager du Mas, A Kitchen Garden outside of Eygalières
Le Potager du Mas has it’s own vegetable garden that you walk through to get to the restaurant terrace. The plots of carefully labelled veggies and fruit are divided by stone pathways and beautiful trellised pergolas and fountains. It must be magnificent later on in the year. At the moment, most of the vegetables are merely seedings. This kitchen garden concept is incredibly popular throughout the world of modern gastronomy. Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s garden at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire is absolutely stunning. I bought the “Kew on a Plate” cookbook a couple years ago which is the book associated with the BBC program at the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens. The pictures are stunning. There’s recipes as well as instructions on how to grow the fruit and veg. How useful! Fresh, in season veggies are where it’s at.
You can watch full episodes of “Kew on a Plate” on Youtube such as this one:
The Potager du Mas, like the adjacent B&B, has exceptional friendly service though unremarkable in its singularity. I’ve been staying in family run B&Bs for too long I suppose. I find it jarring when service is impersonal. Then again, I like service to be close to nonexistent. I like to figure it out myself! Stubborn? Oui! C’est moi!
The food wasn’t faultless but still very delicious. After an amuse-bouche of asparagus soup, a delicious starter of the day, we had filet of lamb and slow cooked veal for mains.
In France, you’ll notice that any good restaurant (anywhere in the world for that matter) only provides you with a few options. This way, you know it’s fresh and manageable for the chefs. Here in Southern France, you’ll often see the same options such as confit agneau, steak tartar, steak frites, moules frites, confit veau etc. These are the same plates as the local café offers for the plat du jour. Alors, at 43 €, is the price difference worth it? The sauce was delicious… Have you been to a Michelin star restaurant here in the South of France? Did you think it’s worth it?
I’m someone that doesn’t like to be hovered over. When the waiter asks me if everything is fine every 5 minutes I get confused. I’ve lived in France for almost 4 years now, they normally just leave you to it!
Le Potager du Mas has a lovely romantic setting. Even though there were only a few tables occupied, it didn’t at all feel awkward. Moving onto dessert, we
Moving onto dessert, we had : Le petit gâteau moelleux aux amandes, crémeux chocolat épices douces et banane, crème glacée au pralin. Which translates to : small almond cake, creamy chocolate with sweet spice and banana, ice cream with pralines. The cake was bit dry and the dehydrated bananas, which I’m sure were painstakingly homemade, made me feel like I was eating Trailmix. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t 17€ in a place where 6€ for dessert is the norm. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to pay a premium for an excellent product. But where do you draw the line? This isn’t a Michelin star restaurant. It’s most likely my fault in that I couldn’t help but compare all the time rather than just enjoying the meal!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to pay a premium for an excellent product. But where do you draw the line? This isn’t a Michelin star restaurant. And even then, does it matter?
Potager du Mas Menu
La noisette e d’agneau de Provence rôtie, cromeski de souris d’agneau confite, tian de légumes du Potager et mousseline de pomme de terre (Fillet of Lamb from Provence, the shank cromeski crystallised, vegetable from the “Potager” and home mash potatoes with olive oil) 43€
Le filet de veau cuit a basse température, mousseline de légumes et pomme de terre fondante, condiments de légumes croquants printaniers au chorizo (Veal fillet low temperature cooking, mash vegetables and potato fondant, spring crunchy vegetables condiments and chorizo) 40€
Le tartare de fraises de pays et sa mousseline vanillée, confiture d’olives noires et jus acidulé
(Strawberry tartare, vanilla mousseline, black olives, acidulated juice)
Le petit gâteau moelleux aux amandes, crémeux chocolat épices douces et banane, crème glacée au pralin (Small almond cake, creamy chocolate with sweet spice and banana, ice cream with praline)
Hotel du Tourrel, Saint Remy de Provence
We’ve recently been to another hotel restaurant. Hotel du Tourrel in Saint Remy de Provence. The setting is modern, and the wine is EXCELLENT. Their wine store is open all day. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and thankfully corrected our wine choices to something I want to order cases and cases of. If you must know, it was Chateau Richeaume. I’ve since bought the last bottles of it at the Hotel du Tourrel wineshop so you’re out of luck!
We chose the Menu du Marché with 3 courses for 59 euros:
Ceviche de Dorade Royale, Christophine, Clémentine, Pousses de Mâche
Carpaccio de Boeuf, Parmesan Espuma, Carpes, Cresson
Filet de Turbot à la Plancha, Moules billyby, épeautre, soupe de poissons roche
(pan seared turbot filet, saffron mussels, spelt, provencal fish soup)
Triple chocolate Guayaquil, mousse au café, praliné noisette
Tarte de Citron meringué, sorbet au citron, craquant de pistache
The food was half the price, in town, and better. Amazing to see the difference. What I’m trying to say is that for me, not only does the food have to be amazing, but it has to be good value. I’m happy to savour a 12 € plat du jour or a 100€ tasting menu, but it’s got to be worth it. What’s the most that you’ve spent on a restaurant meal?
My favourite restaurants, of many, that I’ve tried in Les Alpilles:
La Chassagnette, modern Michelin star kitchen with beautiful kitchen gardens, a bit different from other local Michelin star restaurants in the sense that the plates they offer are not the same, but improved upon, meal that is in a bistro. They are rather something else entirely. (outside of Arles)
Le Bistro du Paradou, 4 courses (entrée, plat, fromage, dessert) AND DRINK for 50€. If you don’t like what’s on offer, you’re out of luck. Fantastic atmosphere. Cheeky on the phone when you make a reservation. (Paradou)
*The menu has recently been changed to 59€ per person at Bisto du Paradou.
Chez Gus, family run restaurant for great value and delicious food (St Remy de Provence)
Da Peppe, comfort food Italian done well.
A lot of people prefer the large thin crust pizzas of Pizza Brun in Maussane-les-Alpilles. Their pizza doesn’t do it for me but I must admit the convivial atmosphere and laid back attitude is wonderful. You help yourself to wine in the fridge! I judge a pizza by the quality of the mozzarella on it as I love simple Margherita or the seconda at Da Peppe. Da Peppe has a lovely terrace, cute waiters (yes!), and the food is consistent. It’s kind of like our Pizza Express.
Le Café du Soleil, (Maillane)
Lovely food in a quiet village setting.
Au Fleur du Thym, Delicious Provençal, sadly no terrace (Maussane-les-Alpilles)
Aux Ateliers Chez Franck et Flo, Classic French for great value in a lovely setting. You can buy pottery, garden ornaments and olive oil at their boutique. They’re well known for their brunch on Sundays. Call well in advance. (Maussane-les-Alpilles)
Au Bistrot Marin, seafood done well in the middle of the great atmosphere of La Place (Maussane-les-Alpilles)
Chez Paulette, French with an Asian twist, salads are best here (Eygalières)
On my List to Discover:
Mas de la Capoun (Molleges)
I hear great things.
Fanny Rey (Saint Remy de Provence)
I’m waiting for the warm weather to try out this Michelin star restaurant so that we can sit on the terrace. We looked at a house overlooking the terrace. That would have been tricky. We would most likely be wanting to eat there every day!
Oustau de Beaumaniere / Le Cabro D’Or (Les Baux de Provence)
One of three restaurants at the hotel. More just out of curiosity. 2 star Michelin star, out of my price range, if anyone wants to treat me- I’m there. Again, just to see if it’s worth it! Don’t worry, I’ll be grateful no matter the outcome.
Château des Alpilles (Saint Remy de Provence)
The outside terrace looks stunning.
Le Vieux Four (Mouriés)
La Petit France, the absolute best seafood around according to all locals, rumour is that they’re relocating this year to another location but still close-by, best if you’d like to try Bouillabaisse, though call ahead (Paradou)
Does anyone want to add to my list? What are your favourite restaurants in Les Alpilles or Provence? Any suggestions in Aix en Provence?