Tuesday, April 30, 2024

A boulangerie in Faucon that serves breakfast and lunch throughout the year and dinner during the summer.

Faucon is a small village (population 452) on a hill, 7 km northeast of Vaison-la-Romaine on the border of the Departments of the Vaucluse and Drome with a magnificent view of the north face of Mont Ventoux. A fortified village, houses are built of stones from the surrounding countryside. 

We have been coming to Faucon on a regular basis since we bought our house in Sablet, usually to dine at Le Lauier Restaurant in the center of the village near the fountain. Two years ago, our dear friend Barbara from Vaison-la-Romaine, introduced us to Le Boulangerie des Tilleuls in Faucon.

Hilltop village of Faucon

The Boulangerie des Tilleuls (Tilleuls means lime trees) is located at Place des Tilleuls where you will discover Saint-Germain church and its 19th-century bell tower. The original date of construction for Saint-Germain church is unknown. The church was restored in 1668 and again in 1677. 

Bell and clocktower of Faucon's Saint Germain Church

Le Boulangerie des Tilleuls is seemingly set on a balcony where you have great views of the countryside. They serve petit dejeuner (breakfast) in the morning, plat du jour (daily specials) at noon, and dinner during the summer to take advantage of the terrace. They sell bread and variety of house-made savory and sweet tarts throughout the day. I think the rhubarb tart is particularly good.

Le Boulangerie

We normally dine on the terrace so we can take advantage of the views but when we went in late March, it was quite chilly, so we opted to eat inside the boulangerie. 

Chilly outside, so we dined inside on a long wooden table

This is simple food but everything we have tried has been delicious. I usually order one of the daily specials and sweet tart for dessert and Shirley orders a vegetarian plate which usually includes a slice of two different vegetarian tarts, a green salad and some olive tapenade. 

Typical vegetarian plate at Le Boulangerie

Le Boulangerie des Tilleuls food and baked goods are delicious any time. The setting makes it a very pleasant place to enjoy a relaxing lunch when the weather is nice or dinner during the summer months. We definitely recommend reservations during tourist season. 

My favorite dining companion

Le Boulangerie des Tilleuls is open Tuesday - Sunday throughout the year from 7h30 to 15h00 and from 7h30 to 23h00, June 15 to August 31. 

Le Boulangerie des Tilleuls
Place des Tilleuls
84110 Faucon
Tel: +33 4 90 36 12 91
No website

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Tulips grown in the Vaucluse for sale in Holland.

We just returned from a short sojourn in Provence after an unusually long absence for us. Sadly, this was the longest time between visits since we bought our home in Sablet in 2008. 

One of our favorite things about Provence are the fields of flowers and orchard blossoms that we find at various times of the year. There are orchards with cherry blossoms in April and early May all around the village of Venasque.

Then, red poppies, known as Coquelicots in France, make their appearance in May. Coquelicots generally grow wild rather than cultivated so you never know where you are going to come across them as you drive around Provence.

Lavender, the most famous flowering plant in Provence, blooms from mid-June to late July depending upon elevation. Sunflowers adorn the landscape from late June to the end of July and are typically harvested in August.

A few years back, we discovered that tulips are grown around Jonquieres, a small village about 20 minutes from Sablet. I am not sure if one person owns all the land where they are planted as the location of the tulip fields changes year to year.  

Dutch tulip farmers outsource growing bulbs to farmers in Provence. While the flowers are still in full bloom, they cut the flower with a lawn mower type machine to save the plant's energy for the bulbs.  The first few times we passed by the tulip fields, it did not appear that they sold any flowers. Now, signs indicate flowers are for sale.  

Since the tulips are in bloom in early spring, from late March to early April, we headed out one recent morning toward Jonquieres to see if any tulips were in bloom. The following pictures are what we found.

Jonquieres tulip field

We have been told that tulips are also grown in the triangle between Lurs, Forcalquier and La Brillanne in the Department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Maybe the next time we are in Sablet in late March, we will head here to explore this area. 

Jonquieres tulip field

Jonquieres tulip field

Jonquieres tulip field

Jonquieres tulip field

Jonquieres tulip field

Another flowering plant we see at this time of year is Colza, in English, Rape Seed. The plant is grown to produce oil for cooking and industrial processes. In the United States, we know the edible version of this oil as canola oil. 

Field of Colza (Rape Seed)

Watch this blog for new posts about visits to new restaurants and villages during our most recent visit to Sablet.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

Bistrot du Paradou

From the time I began to read the website Chowhound, a digital gathering place for obsessive food lovers, that started up 25 years ago, I learned about a restaurant loved by foodies and recommended frequently to those traveling to the South of France called Bistrot du Paradou. 

The Bistrot du Paradou is located 70 kms southwest from our home in Sablet in the tiny Alpilles village of Paradou, about 12 kms south of Saint Remy. Although, a fair distance from Sablet, it is a favorite of ours and everyone we take there. 

Because it is a distance away, we usually combine lunch at Bistrot du Paradou with a walk-about Les Baux de Provence or seeing the art and music program at Carrieres des Lumieres. The restaurant is located in a traditional building with blue shutters, shaded by ancient plane trees, just off Avenue de la Vallee-des-Baux.

The dining room is country bistrot in style; stone walls and floors, wood-beams on the ceiling, zinc-topped tables, a large bar and black and white photos of celebrities on the walls.

Our table at Bistrot du Paradou. Note two bottles of red wine and a chilled bottle of white wine.

Bistrot du Paradou offers a set menu every day that costs 60 - 70 Euros, depending on time of day that includes starter, a main course, cheese platter, choice of desserts, unlimited wine, and coffee.

The menu varies by the season and day of the week. Some of the main course offerings include calf's head, lamb chops, spit roasted chicken from Bresse, cassoulet, and aioli. They don't advertise it, but the kitchen usually has options available for diners who have food allergies or dietary preferences. 

We were among the first to arrive for lunch on our most recent visit. Within a few minutes, every table was full. No need for a wine list, when we sat down, there were two already open bottles of red Mont Redon Cote du Rhone sitting on our table. If you prefer, rose or white wine like Sylvie, just ask and your server will happily bring a chilled bottle to your table. 

Salads and soup starters are served family style. On our visit, the server said there was a choice of starters, either fresh asparagus or escargots in garlic butter.

Asparagus starter

Escargots with garlic butter

You must call to make reservations. I recommend you ask what the menu of the day is so you can let them know if anyone has a preference for something else. Since Shirley and Sylvie don't eat lamb, the chef offered cabillaud (cod) with a butter sauce with the same vegetables as the lamb chops.

Grilled local Alpilles lamb chops with artichokes barigoule and potato puree. 

Cabillaud (cod) with artichokes barigoule and potato puree.

After we wiped every drop of sauce from our plates, they were cleared, and a large wicker platter with cheese and jams and fruits macerated in brandy was set on our table and left for us to enjoy to our stomach's limit. 

Cheese platter

There is a selection of 8 or 9 desserts on a small chalkboard with a variety of ice creams on the back side. I chose the chocolate mousse. 

Chocolate mousse 

Sylvie chose the Baba au Rhum which was placed before her with a bottle of rhum to flavor the dessert according to her desires. 

Baba au Rhum along with bottle of rhum

One of the best parts of the meal is the air of conviviality that is felt throughout restaurant and meal. From the friendly wait staff, who sometimes breakout in song, to the open bottles of wines on your table, generous cheese platter, and offer of a digestive at the end of the meal. 

Terrace in front of Bistrot du Paradou. In summer, it is filled with tables and chairs for dinning al fresco

We definitely recommend making reservations in advance, so you are not disappointed after a long drive. You must do this by telephone as the restaurant does not have a website.

We are not the only fans. A few days ago, Alexander Lobrano in an article for the Wall Street Journal of April 12, 2024, entitled "The 10 Restaurants to Book Now in the South of France" included Le Bistrot du Paradou at #7. 

As we were getting ready to pull out of the restaurant parking lot, Bruno asked if we had ever been to the Moulin de Daudet in nearby Fontvieille? Since we had not, we drove down the road until the moulin seen below came into view.

Alphonse Daudet's mill, also known as the Ribet mill, or Saint-Pierre, was built in 1814 and operated until 1915, when the wheat was requisitioned for the war. In 1935, the Societe des Amis d'Alphonse Daudet restore the mill and dedicated it to the author. 

Daudet summered in the Chateau de Montauban and frequently climbed the hill to the rustic old windmill. The sweeping views of the Rhone valley and the Alpilles inspired his famous, folkloric short stories called "Lettres de Mon Moulin". 

Moulin de Daudet in Fontvieille

Le Bistrot du Paradou
57 Avenue de la Vallee des Baux
13520 Paradou, France
Tel: +33490543270
No website

Visit to Avignon and Tasty Lunch at Bib Gourmand Restaurant Bibendum

As faithful readers of Our House in Provence blog know, a visit to Avignon is an essential part of our time in Provence. During the first years, it was to shop for kids' clothes for our grandchildren, now that they are older and prefer to choose their clothes, we go to visit the Nespresso store, near Place de l'Horloge, to buy espresso capsules to take back to California (way cheaper). 

Avignon is 40 km southwest of Sablet, enclosed within ancient walls along the Rhone River. The largest town in the Vaucluse, Avignon is very old, full of history, art, music, and activity.

Notre des Doms Cathedral seen below is a Roman Catholic church located next to the Palais des Papes in Avignon. The Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Avignon. It is a Romanesque building, constructed primarily in the second half of the 12th century. The bell tower collapsed in 1405 and was rebuilt in 1425. 

Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral 

The Pope's palace seen in the picture below is a historical palace in Avignon, one of the largest and most important Medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. One time fortress and palace, the papal residence was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. Six papal conclaves were held in the Palace, leading to the election of 5 Popes and 1 Antipope.

Pope's Palace

In the center or Avignon, on Place de l'Horloge, you will discover the neo-classical town hall known as the Hotel de Ville seen below. It was built in the 19th century as a replacement for an older building. The 14th century Gothic clock tower from the original structure inspired the name for the square was incorporated into the construction of the current Hotel de Ville. 

Hotel de Ville

Our visits to Avignon are always timed so we can enjoy a leisurely lunch in a nice restaurant. We frequently dine at La Fourchette which I told you about here

We learned early on, that with the exception of cafes that are mostly frequented by tourists, it is not a good idea to drop into a restaurant in France without reservations. You will probably find they are "complet" (full) even if they have empty tables. You might get lucky if you show up just as they open their door for service.

On our most recent visit, we make reservations for lunch at Bibendum on Rue Joseph Vernet, a restaurant recently designated by Michelin as Bib Gourmand. If you don't know, Bib Gourmand restaurants are those deemed by Michelin inspectors to offer a complete meal excluding beverages at an outstanding price/quality price of 40 Euros or less. 

Bibendum Restaurant

Bibendum is set in an old cloister that includes the restaurant, a wine bar, a cocktail bar and inner courtyard with patio where we chose to dine. Mathieu Desmarest, chef of the Michelin one-star restaurant Pollen, devises the menu, while his wife Emilie oversees this venue.  

Shirley sitting in the inner courtyard of Bibendum Restaurant

The following are various dishes that we enjoyed at our lunch at Bibendum starting with a tasty amuse bouche of puree with cheese sent out by the chef to kick start our taste buds. 

Amuse Bouche


Salad with warm goat cheese

Green asparagus 

Fish fillet with beurre blanc sauce

Duck breast with side of polenta


We happily recommend Bibendum to friends who visit Avignon. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday, 12h00 - 13h30 / 19h00 - 21h30. They offer a 3-course menu for 39 Euros. The BBD Club (bar, cocktails and tapas) is open from 18h00 - 00h30.

83 Rue Joseph Vernet
84000 Avignon, France
Tel: 04 90 91 78 39
website: https://www.bibendumavignon.fr

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

If you are looking for an excellent place to lunch in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, go to Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a small medieval village located about 30 km from Sablet. The village spreads out on the hillside at the foot of ruins of an ancient chateau that I told you about here. From the chateau hill, you have an impressive view in all directions, mostly of vineyards and the Rhone River, 1.9 miles to the east. The village is best known for the wine that is produced from the vineyards that surround the village.

There are several cafes with outdoor terraces and a gastronomic restaurant with one Michelin star in the center of the village. Although this is a tourist town, there are not many tourists' shops besides those selling wine as the business of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is wine.

Pope's castle in Chateaueaneuf-du-Pape

The village streets are narrow, curving around the hillside or climbing up and down between the houses up to the chateau. The buildings are old, but everything seems to have been completely restored. 

You can get to the chateau ruins at the top of the village by walking up Rue Joseph Ducos pas the front of the Town Hall to the Church at Rue des Papes. Just to the left of the church are steps that lead up the wide stone-step streets to the chateau. 

Center of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

We were dragging on Sunday morning after our flight from San Francisco and especially the 3-hour drive from Nice where we landed, to Sablet. We hadn't done grocery shopping so eating lunch at home was not an option, so I called Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and reserved a table for 2.

Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine is in a relatively new complex, a few steps from its sister restaurant La Mere Germaine and the center of the village. There is a lovely terrace for dining when the weather is a little warmer, in our opinion. 

We entered the restaurant at the time set for our reservation and we were offered a choice of tables inside or on the terrace. Although it was sunny day, it felt a little brisk to us, so we chose a table inside with a nice view of the terrace and entrance to the restaurant.  

Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine

The dining room is large and airy with an open kitchen featuring a rotisserie. We like to sit at the counter and watch the kitchen team work their magic. Like the terrace, the dining room offers a panoramic view out to the vineyards. 

The menu is a la carte and offers a few starters, some larger dishes to be shared, single portion main courses, and a few side dishes to accompany main courses.

To start, we ordered Pissaladière du Comptoir to share. Pissaladière is a dish of flatbread with traditional toppings from Nice being caramelized onions, black olives, and anchovies. It was served cold, quite tasty but I would have preferred it to be warm.

Pissaladière du Comptoir

Shirley chose the fish plate of the day, which was filet of John Dory, served over braised cabbage. 

John Dory filet over cabbage

I chose the veal roasted on the rotisserie and served with a plate full of vegetables. We were both very happy with our selections. 

As you would expect from a restaurant located in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the wine list is large with many selections of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Veal roasted on the rotisserie with vegetables

As we walked out, we had a great view out over the village and Chateauneuf-du-Pape vineyards towards Mont Ventoux, far in the distance. 

View from the terrace over Chateauneuf-du-Pape towards Mont Ventoux

There are few good choices for places to eat in Chateauneuf-du-Pape except Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine et La Mere Germaine. So, because of this, we recommend highly that you make reservations, so you don't get turned away. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine
4 Rue des Consuls
84230 Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Tel: 01133428690060

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Our Visit to the Breathtaking Valensole Plateau Lavender Fields

Every year, thousands of tourists' travel to the sun-drenched South of France region of Provence. One of its biggest draws, field upon field of perfect rows of sweet-scented, violet-colored lavender. 

There are four main regions where lavender is grown in Provence. They are the Plateau de Valensole, the Luberon Valley, Pays de Sault, and the Drome Provençale. We have visited all of these areas several times except for the Plateau de Valensole. 

Last summer, with friends from Washington DC in tow, we loaded into our car in Sablet and headed out for the 122 km drive to the famous Valensole plateau to tour the lavender fields in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.  

The lavender fields on the Valensole plateau are the most photographed in Provence. This plateau, at 500 meters elevation is dedicated to the cultivation of cereals, olive trees and lavender. The plateau extends over 800 square km and offers a breathtaking panorama of the Provencal countryside. 

Lavender Field in Valensole

Lavender attracts thousands of tourists and bees, hoping to time their visit for the peak of the flowering cycle. The precise timing of flowering changes annually, depending on the weather. Typically, some fields are in full bloom by late June, and the harvest is mostly complete by mid-August.

Lavender Field in Valensole

There are many varieties of lavender. Although we typically associate lavender with purple flowers, the varietals include many colors, from deep blue to white. The plants love the dry, sandy, rocky soil that is typical of southern France.


Lavender Field in Valensole

Lavender has been cultivated at least all the way back to biblical times. Lavender is referenced in the bible as a holy herb nard. The Greeks and Romans used lavender for personal hygiene and medicinal purposes. The Romans used lavender flowers to scent bath water. The flowers and essential oils have been used throughout the ensuing centuries for everything from repelling insects to treating burns to sleep therapy. 

Lavender Field in Valensole

Two main lavender varieties are grown in Provence. The “real” lavender is a small, tufted plant with a single floral spike. Each plant is unique. The plants grow naturally at elevations between 600 and 1,400 meters, but cultivation is generally above 800m. Each plant is unique.

Lavender Field in Valensole

Lavandin is a hybrid, the result of a cross between lavender and a wild varietal, lavender aspic. It’s a hardy plant, less susceptible to disease, and it grows at lower altitudes (200 – 1,000m above sea level) than fine lavender. Since lavandin is a clone, the plants have identical biological footprints, propagated by cuttings. A single lavandin stem has three blue-purple flower spikes.

Lavender Field in Valensole

Be forewarned, lavender season brings traffic congestion. Bus tours and cars clog typically quiet roads while their passengers walk into the lavender fields to snap selfies and photos of each other in the fields. 

Lavender Field in Valensole

Much of the lavender grown in Provence is distilled for essential oil and fragrant water. The plants are also dried for scented objects. Tourist shops in Provence carry lots of lavender products, soap, perfume, honey, tea, ice cream and scented packages. Be aware, some of the products sold in stores are mass-produced outside of France and hardly artisanal.

Lavender Field in Valensole

Because of the size of the lavender fields, the lavender harvest is usually not done by hand. A tractor passes through the field, cutting the lavender and leaving small bundles in its wake. The cuttings then dry in the sun for 2-3 days before being gathered into giant bundles similar to large hay bales. 

At the distillery, the bales are dropped into cauldrons with water where the steam passes over the flowers creating the essential oil and lavender water. To produce one liter of essential oil requires 200 kg (440 lbs) of lavender flowers. 

Shirley and I on our 50th Wedding Anniversary in a Valensole Lavender Fields

Walking through lavender fields in Provence on your wedding anniversary is about as romantic a setting as you can find in my opinion. 

Just before we left California for our trip to Sablet, Shirley played her one and only pickleball game and fell and broke her wrist in 4 places. We were grateful the doctor was able to put her wrist in a cast. We were hoping it would fully heal that way but unfortunately, she had to undergo surgery a few months later.

After touring around the Valensole plateau for a few hours, we drove into the town of Valensole, to find a place to eat and drink. 


You can find lots of guides online that identify where the prettiest shots of lavender can be found on the Valensole plateau. However, because harvest occurs at different times and growers replant fields as they age, it is not always possible to find all of the recommended locations. Yes, it was a long drive from Sablet, but worth the effort in our opinion. 

If you are still searching for a house to make your home during your sojourn in Provence this year or in future years, please don't hesitate to visit our website at www.sablethouse.com You can also email me at chcmichel@aol.com