Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fine Dining in Provence (Southern France)

If I had another life to live, it would be in Provence. In lieu of that, a week there and on the nearby Cote d'Azur (aka the French Riviera) sufficed for now.
Our finest dining of the three weeks in Spain and France turned out to be three lunches in Provence--in Arles, Avignon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, three successive delicious days in June.

First up was at the bistro adjoining L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabenel, a Michelin two-star establishment in the center of the old, Roman city of Arles. After touring the ancient coliseum and other sights, we had a late lunch at the Bistro a Cote. The three-course daily menu offered three choices per course. Most interesting was this composed Salade Nicoise, which my husband and I both chose as our first course. We sat on the breezy terrace -- it's on a cobblestone street, charming but not especially picturesque -- and chatted with a gay couple from San Francisco throughout our meal.
Salade Nicoise, in Arles
The next day we drove to Avignon, another notable sightseeing town in Provence. Once again, after touring the (in this case) medieval palace of the Pope, we sought out a restaurant recommended in one of our guidebooks. Little did we know that this would be the best meal of our entire trip, at another Michelin one-star, Christian Etienne. The second floor room above the old part of the city had open windows and a fresh-air feel; the service was impeccable; and everything we drank and ate was marvelous. I had the best veal I can ever remember. Here is a shot of the first course, a soupe du poisson, along with the Champagne cocktail and glass of white Rhone wine that was at my place. Of course, I had to try a red wine to go with the veal. And then came this lovely dessert.
First course at Christian Etienne
Dessert, in Avignon
Next time, I'll show & tell about what was my favorite single dish of our wonderful time in Spain and (especially) France.

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