Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vaison-la-Romaine and Le Brin d'Olivier Restaurant

I convided that if you are in our corner of Provence, we think you should go to the Vaison-la-Romaine market on at least one Tuesday morning. There you will find an amazing assortment of fresh fruit, vegetables, olives, charcuterie, cheese, meats, fish and roasted meats and cooked foods to go.

While you are there, take the time to wander through the large fields of Roman ruins in the lower town and/or through the picturesque maze of tiny streets up to the castle at the top of the medieval upper town and enjoy the spectacular view out over Vaison-la-Romaine's new town.

The upper and lower towns are connected by this Roman Bridge dating to the 1st century over the Ouvèze River. One interesting thing about the Bridge is its single arch which spans 17.2 meters or 56.5 feet. It has withstood floods and except for the parapet which was rebuilt after the huge flood in 1992, the Bridge is as it was 2000 years ago.

At the end of the Roman Bridge on the medieval side, there is a large memorial to the children of Vaison-la-Romaine who died fighting for France during WWI and WWII.

Another reason we go to Vaison-la-Romaine is to eat at Le Brin d'Olivier restaurant which is located a few steps from the Roman Bridge in the lower town. We park along the Ouvèze River in the public parking lot facing the belfry tower with its 18th century wrought-iron bell cage.

For some reason, we end up most often at Le Brin d'Olivier on Sundays for lunch. The restaurant is the only one in Vaison-la-Romaine awarded a Bibb Gourmand by Michelin and included in the guide to Les Meilleures Adresses à Petit Prix, meaning you eat well for a good price.

The entrance to the restaurant through the patio into the dining room where guests are seated during warm weather.

The restaurant also has two dining rooms on the upper floor for use during cooler weather where we were seated when we went in late March. The tables in the small warm room with exposed wood beams on the ceiling were covered with white table cloths.

After looking over the menu, I chose the "Balade en Provence" menu for 29,00 Euros and Shirley went a la carte. We selected a 50 cl bottle of the 2010 Chateau de Paradis, Terre des Anges rosé, a very nice blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

We were brought an amuse bouche of Suprise Crème de Tomates with Espelette along with a basket of house-baked bread.

For our first course, I chose the Oeuf poché à la crème de broccoli with a lemon sugar - poached egg with cream of broccoli soup. Shirley passed on the poached egg and had the cream of broccoli soup since she doesn't like poached eggs. The soup was delicious with a distinct lemon note.

Shirley waiting patiently for her main course to be served.

A little poodle waiting patiently too for little tidbits to fall to the floor.

For her first course, Shirley chose the Fiilet de Turbot roti sur poelle de legumes d'automne, echalotes confites - fillet of turbot roasted on autumn vegetables such as Zucchini and mushrooms in a rich mushroom broth with shallots cooked confit style.

I chose the Magret de canard roti au miel et epices sur potate douce fondante - duck breast roasted with honey and spices and served over a sweet potato puree. It was really good.

For dessert, we shared the Fondant chocolat aux eclats de noisettes, crème à la vanille de bourbon - warm runny chocolate cake with bursts of hazelnuts over a creamy vanilla bourbon sauce.

We have had consistently good meals at Le Brin d'Olivier. If you are in Vaison-la-Romaine, you should reserve a table for lunch. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Le Brin d'Olivier
4 Rue du Ventoux
84110 Vaison-la-Romaine
Tel: 04 90 28 74 79


  1. Vaison is one of the villages I plan to visit this summer. I love Roussillon and have noted the Millefeuille restaurant in Aix on my "to do" agenda :)

  2. The food looks delicious! Thanks for posting the address that's always nice. I, unfortunately, haven't gotten to Vaison since being back in France. For some reason I can't manage to get out of the VAR this time around!

  3. Thanks for your lovely blog! I will try this resto next visit to Vaison it sounds wonderful...where in No Cal is your other home?

    a bientôt


  4. Meredith - Vaison is definitely worth the trip. I wondered if you might have already been to Le Millefeuille. I am very confident you will like it.

    Ashley - Likewise, I have a hard time getting very far from the Vaucluse. I do hope to get to some of the Var villages when I am there the next time.

    Kit - Thanks for checking in and for leaving a comment on my blog. We live near Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

  5. Another great restaurant recommendation, thanks Michel! I need so many of these when we travel around Provence and I can't wait to visit Vaison-la-Romaine, quite on the top of our list.

  6. Nice review of the restaurant "up the street" from our apartment.


  7. Tuula - I hope you make it to Vaison soon. I think you will enjoy the town. Le Brin d'Olivier is a great choice for lunch when you are in town.

    Sullivans - Thanks for the nice feedback about my post. I didn't realize you live close to Le Brin d'Olivier, how convenient. I assume you are back in Michigan by now. We will be going to Traverse City for a wedding in early August.

  8. My mother and three of her friends are coming to Provence in September, I'm going to send them the link to your blog so they can use it as a travel guide and pick out where they want to visit and eat :)

  9. I just love all your restaurant posts. I have quite a file of must visit restos thanks to you.
    Two things:
    I love Espelette in anything. I bought some espelette mustard in a shop in Nyons and was so sad when we'd eaten it all.
    How is it that we don't eat eggs like that in the US? I love eggs more than anything. and with broccoli soup? I would have ordered that too.
    thanks for sharing. I have to go there now, more than ever.

    1. there sure was a lot of love in that comment. i must be super hungry! :)

  10. Aidan - Eggs are starting to find their way to dishes other than scrambled or poached for breakfast in the US, thankfully. But you are right, we don't do it as well or nearly as much as the tasty egg deserves. Thanks for the sweet feedback about the posts.

  11. Bonjour from Vaison, where I live! I found this an interesting post, since I have eaten at the Brin d'Olivier over the years. It has usually been "fine" but not really great. Then at the end of May 2011 I took a group of 8 women clients there are was embarrassed about the meal. A very ordinary meal, nothing seasonal at all (burned duck confit and fried potatoes at the end of May.) Poor service--in fact the waitress was usually no where to be seen. I haven't been back since, and am afraid to go since I don't want to "waste" a meal.
    Sharon deRham

  12. Sara - That is the nicest compliment anyone could has or could give me about my blog. Thanks so much.

    Sharon - We have never had a bad meal at Brin d'Olivier and we have eaten there a half dozen times over the last couple of years. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife, he's the chef and she runs the front of the house and is usually the server. I would agree service is a little slow but no more so than in most French restaurants.

  13. My partner and I are from Los Angeles. We will be staying in Sablet July 15 and 16 at Les Abeilles and want to catch a bit of the Tour de Frane in Vaison-la-Romaine on the 16th. I've requested a dinner reservation at Le Brin d'Olivier on the 15th. I just stumbled upon your wonderful blog when doing research on this restaurant and am looking forward to dining here.

  14. Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment on my blog. I appreciate this very much. I am happy you are finding my blog useful as you plan your trip to Provence. We ate at Le Brin d'Olivier and Les Abeilles during the past two weeks and had great meals both times. Enjoy your visit. I wish we were going to be there for the Tour this year.