Monday, July 29, 2013
In any case Bandol has never disapointed so far. This year they have a guy selling platters of seafood at the daily market from Llyly Coquillages. They are spectacular and good value. Mine was a 20E platter, but he also makes smaller ones. The mayonnaise was home made and incredible. There is a stall at the daily market selling charcuterie and smoked salmon which are simply spectacular. The traiteur next door sells all sorts of prepared foods but also terrines. The choice is incredible and quality very good to excellent. I bought fish soup from them for 9E, which made us 2 meals. It came with delicious rouille and croutons. Dona Patri pizzeria makes great pizzas to go or eat there. Our favorites so far were the pissaladiere and another one with tuna and anchovies. I tried paella from 4 different sellers, but the one at the big market from Spanish family is the best. Also, the stall with olives and tapenades at the daily market has incredible tapenades and achoiades. Even the hot sandwiches from kiosks behind the Tourist office are good and only cost 3-4E. As activities this year we had les joutes, grandiose fireworks for July 14, several concerts and defile de lampions. Bandol has 3-4 orchestras including 1 jazz, from firemen I believe. One of the free shows was Natasha St Pier, from Quebec, but living now in France. I have never seen her shows in Quebec, but in Bandol it was a very good music and evening with piano and then her songs. But that was only one of the few. One day they closed the Renecros beach because of something seemed a pollution, but we could try the Casino beach also close to our apartment. It is a good beach with access for people with mobility problems. In water there are stones however, but water itself was warmer as the beach is more exposed to sun.
This bistro was on my restaurant list and we sat there for our last restaurant meal in Bandol on their covered terrace as the clouds looked bad. There were already 2 couples with very nice platters. While we were waiting a heavy rain started, so many people ran to the bistro and the waitress got overwhelmed. There were also tables reserved and it was a good sign. She is alone and her husband is cooking I believe. The wait was long, but we weren't in the hurry. She explained they don't use anything frozen all is fresh. I chose the Assiette du Pecheur and my husband wanted to try sardines. Our sone went with steak hache and frittes, we had to ask to cook more his steak. My assiette du pecheur was spectacular and delicious with fish, potatoes and seafood in a rich yellow sauce and creme on top. My husband enjoyed his cassolette de sardines served on a ratatouille with a good white wine. As the meal was excellent, we decided on a desert. I chose a creme caramel which came in a jar and was not as usual creme caramel, but certainly home made and very tasty. Even our son who usually doesn't chose this loved it. But he and my husband found even more delicious the tarte a la pomme served cold. They were just Mmmmm! while having it. The service was slow, but it is Provence and we weren't in a rush, but the food quality was exceptional. A delicious meal for about 65E. A very good choice for our last meal in Bandol.
We already had a meal at this restaurant last year and were sure of the quality of our diner. This time my husband chose their 19E menu with carpaccio de saumon, medaillon de porc and creme brulee. I ordered a la carte a bavette a l'echalotte and a creme brulee. Our son a steak hache which came with delicious potatoes and a Coca cola. The carpaccio came with aneth and fenouil and in olive oil. It was very refined. My husbands medaillons were both spectacular and delicious and served with a delicious puree. My bavette was covered with delicious fried marinated onions and served with a ratatouille in a verrine. Creme caramel was vanille and Bourbon this time and was delicious. with a fine rose from Provence, the neighbor Cadiere d'Azur I believe. All for 67E.
We arrived in Bandol for lunch and our apartment was available at 2PM. So we parked at the central car park and decided to go for lunch on the street right next to our apartment. Du cote de chez Swann is a very good restaurant with great reviews. On Saturday they didn't have a formule, but a menu with 2 choices of each serving. Anchoiade offerte. My husband decided on a rack of lamb a la carte. I chose on the menu. My appetizer was a tartare de saumon, prepared with both raw and smoked salmon. They also gave my husband a small portion of tartare, so he didn't have to wait for his main. Our son chose a steak with a risotto. The risotto was with seafood and had pieces of lobster in it. Our tartare was both spectacular and very good. Then my husband's lamb was served with a delicious puree and girolles as was my rable de lapin. My rable was wrapped in cured ham and was extremely tender and tasty. I then called our apartment contact for meeting later, but he was available to give me the keys right away. So I went with him to the apartment. But I missed my profiterolles with pistache, which was so spectacular and excellent, all I got were several spectacular pictures of it and their happy faces. And our son's ice cream was melon and pistache. All with a very good rose. This was a very good and memorable meal for about 75E for the 3 of us. We will return when back in Bandol.
Bonnieux is beautiful and has fantastic views of valleys surrounded by mounts with views on the perched village of Lacoste, vineyards and fields with flowers, and the famous mont Ventoux. I feel that I could live in Bonnieux for some time. Les Baux de Provence has a beautiful setting too, but I didn't have the same feeling there. It was just another beautiful place for me. In Bonnieux we like la brasserie les Terrasses. It is a bar and a pizza place with a spectacular terrace. We ordered 2 pizzas from them and while we waited we ordered wine and beer. We had the pizza Royale our son's choice and my preferred pizza Napolitaine with anchovies, capers, tomato, cheese, olives, especially with a few drops of spicy oil on our terrace at the hotel Cesar with some local rose. Next morning we stopped by the road to photograph lavender on our way from Bonnieux to Bandol.
From Carcassonne we drove to Bonnieux with a stop in Baux de Provence. Baux location is nice, but the restaurants there are even more touristy than in Carcassonne. This was our break for lunch, and we found this bar with a very nice setting. The weather was nice and we were seated in their beautiful terrace with nice views. Our table was in fact a barrel with high chairs and had some shade from the wall and rocks. Food wise, we decided on croques Monsieur and our son had a child menu. His meal was big. The Croques were made with sliced bread and with Bechamel (with muscade which I don't like). They were served with a salad and fries and we chose a rose wine pitcher. The waiter was sympathetic, but it was his first day, and he mixed up a few things on the bill, but the girl at the cash came with him, they apologized and rectified the situation. I won't call it a meal, but rather a bar snack. The food was just ok, which is not good for France. We expected this. After visiting the Luberon, I didn't find les Baux as spectacular. It is green around it and it is built on a rock and surrounded by rocks, but just rocks is not my type of beautiful landscape. The views are nice but didn't make me to want to return, as the Luberon did. As we drove through St Remy de Provence, I could understand why so many people like it. It has roman ruins but also looked like a lively place with numerous restaurants and boutiques. The road is surrounded with platanes.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
We arrived in Carcassonne and could park at our hotel private parking, so we could walk and have our lunch while waiting for our room. As we walked around I couldn't find restaurants on my list, or it was closed. Our son was really hungry, and we came across this restaurant. I new it would be touristy, as all Carcassonne is, but they had a not that expensive menu, and I didn't want to spend on a more expensive meal there, because it would have been much more expensive. We sat at their terrace partially shaded with trees. There were numerous families in there. The good surprise, they had a cassoulet on child menu, and our son accepted to try it. Our son got a plate with charcuterie and salad as we did, but it had ham instead of cured ham. After that, cassoulet for everyone. I know the reviews were not good for this place, but the cassoulet was good. Not the best in the world, but I am always surprised in France even most touristy places are not that bad. I wouldn't have gone with other choices because of the touristy nature of the place, but the cassoulet was good and so filling, We didn't need a diner after such lunch. Then creme brulee for us and an ice cream for our son. He's got upset because it was served in a girl personage and didn't want to keep the toy. The service was good, and the waiters and the person at the cash were sorry our son disliked the girl toy, but it was his choice: chocolate and vanilla. But the personnel didn't notice a big difference, neither did we. It was just funny. So overall not a bad deal for such touristy place. The garden terrace was pleasant too.
It was raining and we tried to find a restaurant not far from our camping. The closest one was closed, so we just continued to Beynac and stopped at the Auberge Lembert. They have a covered and heated terrace on top with a nice view of Beynac castle. We decided to try it. This restaurant has an interesting menu with dishes cooked a l'ancienne. I chose the fois gras bloc house version, they have a store on the first floor, and it was very good. I purchased some at the end of our meal. My husband started with plate of two terrines, which were delicious. Then we were served our duck confit. It had something on the top and after tasting I discovered these were marinated berries. This has brought up souvenirs from my childhood, when they made marinated fruits such as apples. As a child I didn't enjoy the taste then, however these berries were good. The duck was really tender and the potatoes with garlic delicious. All with a good rose wine. Our son chose a porc roast with potatoes which was good, a change from steak hache. As a desert my husband went with classical gateaux aux noix, but it was served with chocolate sauce, delectable. I chose something I rarely see on the menu and it was both spectacular and delicious: a tarte au chocolat. Not a cake, but tarte. The chocolat was dark chocolate not too sweet and with a bit of cocoa on top not sweet. Served with strawberries and Chantilly, it was one of the best deserts I had in France. I am not into big sweet food, but this was exceptional. Our son was enchanted with his ice cream of two sorts and Chantilly on the top. This was a regular menu, but it was so good, my husband said we will be back.