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Restaurants & Bars

Avignon trip report

phet7178 | Aug 25, 201902:06 AM     2

Long-time lurker, first time poster here! My partner and I recently went to Avignon for 3 days, and as usual I scoured Chowhound for tips. As there weren't a huge amount of reports, I thought I'd finally pop my posting cherry and post my own. We ate very well (of course) with some choices better than others.

First off we passed through Paris on the way (Eurostar from London in the morning, then TGV to Avignon in the evening). We had lunch at L'Amarante near Bastille (found via Le Fooding). It was perfect because our train to Avignon went from Gare de Lyon and we didn't want to wander too far. The restaurant was empty when we went in (I didn't need to have stretched my rusty French muscles by emailing them to book, though I'm glad I did because I proved to myself that I can remember the passé composé). The food was lovely and exactly as promised by the reviews; I had the foie gras (small but very rich portion), and the much-lauded tripe which was delicious albeit very filling. The tripe comes served as a kind of delicate casserole over creamy mashed potatoes and I devoured it. My partner had some foie gras and then beef cheeks for main and also loved them. We shared a camembert for dessert, which the waiter warned us was tres fort, which is exactly how we like it. This is rich food and perhaps best suited for winter, but even on a hot day it was gobbled with relish.

That evening in Avignon we went to Le Cochon Bleu, chosen for proximity to the hotel. It was nice enough but nothing to rave about - I had perfectly serviceable escargot and then a seafood stew which was nice but the coquilles St Jacques, usually my favourite, were on the rubbery side.

The next day, having eaten a delicious home-baked breakfast at our hotel (the charming Hotel Le Garlande, which I'd recommend - nothing fancy but quaint and very central, and the owner is lovely) we did some sight-seeing before heading to our 'treat' meal for the trip. We'd booked lunch at Christian Etienne - as a Michelin hack, I like to book the always-cheaper lunch menus because we can't afford the dinner! The setting was gorgeous - we were on the terrace overlooking the Palais du Papes - and the service was excellent. We had the Menu du Pont, with the matching Chateauneuf du Papes wines. It was all very pleasant but not the best blowout lunch we've had. The amuse-bouche was not nice - some kind of crumbed canape that tasted like sawdust - but the rest was fine (tuna for starter, which was a little rubbery again, lamb and fennel for main which was delicious and the highlight of the meal, and then some lovely petits fours with coffee). To be honest the wine was the highlight here - perfectly matched white and red Chateauneuf. I was glad we tried Christian Etienne but I wouldn't recommend people go out of their way.

That evening we ate at Le Numero 75, which was not really memorable food-wise, but a lovely setting in a beautiful, vine-covered courtyard.

The next day we had lunch at the market - Les Halles - at a little cafe/bar inside called Chez La P'tit. We loved it - we both had steak frites with meat form the nearby butcher and drank Chateauneuf from cheap glasses and felt gluttonous and very satisfied. Bonus points for the boisterous old French men getting merry in the middle of the day standing at the bar nearby.

That evening we had an apero at Le Vin Devant Soi, which was fine - their selling point is being able to buy small pours of different wines using their enomatic system. The choice of wine in the machine was somewhat small though (I couldn't help but compare it to The Sampler, my local wine shop in Islington, which has the same system and about 40 wines 'on tap') and my Italian partner was snobby about the fact that it was mostly English-speaking foreigners inside. Worth a stop though. We then went for a delicious and, once again, gluttonous dinner at Ginnette et Marcel, the very democratic bistro selling mostly tartine, situated in a glorious square outside the main tourist drag and filled with boisterous French families. I had the 'three cheese' tartine, frites, and tarte au chocolat for dessert, and we paid about 30 euros the whole meal including wine and chartreuse for digestifs. Highly recommend.

The next day, unfortunately I was unwell so we remained around the hotel and I barely ate (it wasn't food poisoning - I've been in active cancer treatment and this was our first 'post treatment' holiday, on which I of course over did it in excitement to be eating again). In the evening we ventured out to Le Vintage, chosen entirely because it was the closest restaurant to our hotel. It turned out to be a gem - local, Provencal cuisine, menu based mostly on what they found in the market that day, and a huge, beautifully-cooked steak for my partner (I stuck to fresh market salad given the day I'd had). It is very popular - we squeezed into the last table and saw many people lining up after us - and just off the tacky Place de L'Orloge (where all the food options looked dire) so a great recommendation if you find yourself around there and hungry.

On our final day we headed to Villeneuve-les-Avignon for the flea market, and ate afterwards at Les Jardins d'Ete inside the Carthusian monastery there. The food was tasty without being anything to write home about (I stuck with salad again, which was a generous portion), but the setting, inside a courtyard in the lavender-filled monastery, was picture-postcard perfect. Plus it's a little off the foreign tourist track (again, our fellow diners were all French) so felt lovely.

On top of these restaurants our other food highlights were calissons from Puyricard (their chocolates were good too).

It was the first time in the South of France for both of us and we can't wait to go back

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