Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Uzès, the First Duchy of France and one of the best markets in the South of France.

If you've been following "Our House in Provence" for a while, you know that cousins Jean Marc and Christine live near Montpellier and although it's 75 miles from Sablet, we are always looking for ways to meetup. So when Shirley's friends came to visit, we decided to combine a visit to Uzès with Sunday lunch with the cousins followed by a visit to the Pont du Gard.

Uzès is a beautiful historic town in the Gard (a part of Languedoc-Roussillon) with a history dating from Roman times. Uzès is surrounded by garrigue (low growing bushy plants including oak, juniper, broom and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme) covered hills and valleys about 30 miles west of Avignon and less than 10 miles from the Roman Pont du Gard.

The Saint-Théodorit Cathedral seen below, was formerly a Catholic cathedral, but is now a parish church, named in honor of Saint Theodoritus. It was the seat of the Bishops of Uzès until the diocese was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and its territory passed to the Diocese of Avignon.

The cathedral was destroyed during the Albigensian Crusades, rebuilt, and destroyed again in the 16th century Wars of Religion and rebuilt again in the 17th century before it was gutted during the French Revolution. In the 19th century, a new west front was added.

Saint-Théodorit Cathedral and the Fenestrelle Tower

Adjacent to the cathedral is the 12th century Fenestrelle Tower which is the only part of the cathedral which survives from the medieval structure. This kind of round bell tower is unique in France; it rises 138 feet above a square base, its six storeys recede one above the other.

The interior of Saint-Théodorit Cathedral

Uzès is near the Eure springs which was the source of the water for the Roman aqueduct built in the first century BC, to supply water to the town of Nîmes, 25 kms away. The most famous stretch of the aqueduct is the Pont du Gard, which carried fresh water across the river Gardon.

A narrow street that leads to the center of Uzès

Please join me as I wander around the heart of Uzès old town

An Uzès street

An olive tree next to a wall of the Duchy castle

The center of Uzès old town is full of medieval streets for wandering and exploring.

A narrow cobblestone street in Uzès

The Duchy is the defensive feudal castle standing in the center of Uzès old town. The castle was never attacked or damaged and is in very good condition. Uzès is the "First Duchy of France", France's oldest and most-important ducal peerage. Uzès was made a Duchy in 1565. The current owner of the castle, Jacques de Crussol, is the 17th Duke of Uzès.

He grew up in the castle but these days, he actually lives in Paris but makes a point of coming to Uzès once a month, and spends most of the summer at the castle. Just like the Queen of England, his family’s flag flies over the castle when he is in residence.

The Duchy of Uzès

Part of the Duchy castle

Part of the Duchy castle

Tower of the Duchy castle

An Uzès street

Large fountain in Uzès

Uzès shop

A house decorated on the side with a turret near Place aux Herbes

Terrace café on the Place aux Herbes

Terrace café on the Place aux Herbes

The Uzès market is held all year long on Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings on the Place aux Herbes in the old town. With its fountain, arcades and terrace cafés, it is a great place to shop and visit and pause for a café or leisurely terrace lunch. Parts of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Gerard Depardieu were shot here.

Place aux Herbes

Pretty window in Uzès

One of the arcades which line the Place aux Herbes

Unique door in Uzès

House of the truffle

Clock and belfry on top of the Saint-Etienne Church tower.

Saint-Étienne Church seen below, was built between 1763 and 1775 on the location of an ancient church that was destroyed during the Wars of Religion.

Saint-Étienne Church

Rectangular bell tower of Saint-Étienne Church

An Uzès restaurant

The 12th-century Bishop's tower was the seat of the bishop's temporal powers, used as a tribunal and prison. This tall, square tower is topped by an octagonal clock tower and belfry, added in the 19th century.

The Bishop's Tower

The Bermonde tower is the Duchy's keep, built in the 11th century by Bermond 1st. The corner watch towers were added during a restoration in the 15th century. You can visit the castle and climb to the top of the Bermonde Tower (135 steps) for a wonderful view of Uzès.

The Bermonde Tower at the Duchy

One of the museums in Uzès

Shirley with friends Liz and Jennifer

Uzès is special town for several reasons; first, the Uzès market on Saturday mornings is one of our favorites in the South of France and second, Uzès is where we sat and debated the pros and cons of various villages and houses with cousins Jean Marc and Christine in one of the cafés on Place aux Herbes. As you know, we chose Sablet and we are so glad we did.

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baby Leeks with Herb Vinaigrette, a classic French bistro dish

As I told you here back at the beginning of the year, Shirley has challenged me to try new recipes out of a different cookbook every week this year. I am trying to do that and I am sharing those recipes we think are particularly good and have a high reward in terms of taste for the effort put forth.

As I told you, she put the challenge forward as a way to encourage me to cook from a few of the many cookbooks in my library instead of buying new ones. I have done this but I continue to buy books on a regular basis, I can't help it, so I am not really achieving the goal of the original challenge.

The recipe for today comes from a new book by Laura Washburn I purchased a few weeks back. I have quite a few cookbooks that feature classic French bistro dishes like we serve at our Bistro Des Copains in Occidental, California. Everyone of these books include certain classics like French Onion Soup, Sole Meunière, Gratin Dauphinois, and Tarte Tatin.

Although many of these cookbooks have a recipe for Leeks Vinaigrette, I had never tried to make this dish until I came across some beautiful baby leeks at the farmer's market in Marin County, one Sunday morning a few weeks ago. I should mention this is one of the best farmer's markets anywhere including Provence.

"The French Country Table" by Laura Washburn

Baby Leeks with Herb Vinaigrette
Poireaux, vinaigrette aux herbes
Adapted from "The French Country Table"
Serves 4


1 1/2 lbs, baby leeks
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup safflower oil
a small handful of flat-leaf parsley
a small handful of watercress
a small handful of tarragon
3 medium sorrel leaves
a small bunch of chives, snipped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
freshly ground black pepper


Put the leeks in simmering water and cook for 7-8 minutes, until tender. Remove and set aside to drain.

To make the vinaigrette, put the vinegar, mustard, and salt in a small food processor and blend well. Add about 1/3 cup of the oil and blend for a few seconds. Continue adding the oil, a little at a time, and blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Add the parsley, watercress, tarragon, and sorrel and pulse again to chop. Add pepper to taste.

Pat the leeks to dry them off with paper towels. Arrange the leeks in a a serving dish, spoon the vinaigrette over the top, and sprinkle with capers and chives.

I added some boiled eggs because I like boiled eggs and I thought the color added to the finished dish.

Baby leeks with herb vinaigrette

I generally stick with the recipe the first time I make it and then make adjustments after I have done it the way the cookbook author intended. In the original recipe, the author adds two, thinly sliced shallots at the end rather than the capers which is a change I made.

If you come across some baby leeks or see this dish on a French bistro menu, you should try it. This recipe was simple and delicious. I like making this dish as it reminds me of my father, as it was one of his favorites. I will be keeping my eye out for baby leeks as we visit markets in Provence over the next few weeks.

In the words of Chef Jacques Pepin, one of my favorite television chefs and cookbook authors, I wish you happy cooking. Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I got the Liebster Award.

Hey guess what readers, unbelievable news! My blogger friend Sara over at Sara in Le Petit Village just presented the Liebster Blog award to me. Thank you so much Sara for the award. I am thrilled that you read what I write and honored that you like my blog.

Sara lives in Le Petit Village somewhere in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. She was born in New York City, moved to Texas where she lived until she moved to Dublin and worked in the banking industry. One night she ran into her future French husband in a club and followed him back to Le Petit Village in Provence.

Sara sees the world through a unique lens and most everything she writes makes me smile. She may well get her writing skills from her mother who has a blog and is the author of two books. I just found out from Sara that her mom reads my blog too and that makes me very happy.

When I read that Sara had passed the award to me, I went to Google to see what I could find about the award. Here is what I found, "The origins of the Liebster Blog award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it originated in Germany, Liebster meaning favorite or dearest."

If you're familiar with the blogosphere than you know that an award like the Liebster comes with rules and these are the rules for the Liebster:

1. Thank and link back to the blogger who presented you with the award.
2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions you were asked.
4. Write 11 questions for your nominees.
5. Present/nominate a Liebster blog award to 3-5 other bloggers.

Here are eleven random facts about me:

1. I have dual United States and Swiss citizenship through father Daniel, born in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Swiss family town of origin is Langnau in the canton (like a state) of Bern. My father’s mother was 100% French from near the Pont du Gard so I think I could get French citizenship too.

2. Once upon a time, very inadvertently, I behaved like a cad and stood up Shirley on what was to be our first date. Let me explain; I met Shirley during freshmen registration and asked her out. Shirley‘s maiden name is long and unusual, and by Saturday night, I had forgotten her name. I knew she lived in a dorm but not the room # so I couldn't get her.

While we were dating

3. I was drafted into the US Army after freshmen year, the next to last year the US conducted a lottery draft before the army became all volunteer. In case you are interested, I escaped Vietnam and was stationed just outside Washington DC at Ft. Detrick, MD where I was the company clerk (think Radar O'Reilly in Mash) for a medical research unit.

Radar O'Reilly

4. I missed the birth of our first child. Wife Shirley went into labor on the day a final test was scheduled my last semester of college. I spoke to the professor and shared the happy news and he told me that if I didn’t take the test at the scheduled time, he would give me an F for the class. So I took the test and by the time I got to the hospital, I was a father.

5. Despite multiple faux pas (see #2 and #4), Shirley still likes me and this summer we will celebrate our 40th anniversary. My life would have been very different and not in a good way if she had not overlooked my many screw-ups along the way.

Near Marseille after nearly 40 years of marriage

6. I officiated at a wedding, one of the scariest things I have done. Writing a meaningful homily that didn’t offend the Jewish family of the groom or the Christian family of the bride was hard to do. They are still married and have a beautiful little girl so I guess I did OK.

7. My favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. If you haven’t tried them, you really must do so.

8. For the first part of my life, I was a vegetarian like the rest of my family. My brother, mother and sister still are and my father would be too if he was still alive. Thankfully, my family in the Tarn region of France introduced me to tasty alternatives. You can read about it here.

9. I am afraid of heights. I am afraid for myself and for anyone up high. I had a fight (verbal only) with my friend when we visited the Pont du Gard in 1995. He took our daughters to the top level (the barriers had not been put in place yet back then) and they walked on the top. I freaked out. Clearly some French official must be afraid of heights too as they now have barriers which stop people from walking on the top. I am glad I am not the only one.

10. I met former first lady of the United States, Laura Bush a few days ago and had my picture taken with her. She asked me about the origin of my name, so we had a little moment while we talked about that.

11. I don't like beer or ale, although to be honest, I have not tried very many. On the other hand, I love wine and I have tasted many different ones. My favorite wines are California Pinot Noirs and red wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. I like dry crisp pink wine too.

Here are the answers to the 11 questions that Sara gave me:

1. What movie or TV show do you hate that everyone else loves? There are several but the TV show I hate most is "Survivor."

2. Where were you when you ate your first Chicken McNugget? I don't know for sure but I assume it was somewhere in Montgomery County, Maryland outside of Washington, DC.

3. Who are your five dream dinner guests (alive or dead) and what would you cook them? My dinner guests would be Diana, Princess of Wales (first wife to Prince Charles), Alice Waters(chef/author), Warren Buffett (billionaire entrepreneur), Neil Armstrong (first man to walk on the moon), and Walter Cronkite (news anchor). All the dishes would be typical of Provence and would come from the cookbook "Lulu's Provencal Table" by Richard Olney. The dishes in the cookbook are from Lulu Peyraud, the proprietress and fabulous home cook at Domaine Tempier in Bandol.

4. What is your favorite book or author? My love of Provence began with the book "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle so I would have to say that is my favorite book.

5. What is your favorite tipple? Pastis, bien sur!

6. What's your middle name? André. My father's middle name was André and his best friend's name was André.

7. If you were given €4000 for a holiday, where would you go and what would you do? Shirley was born in Tanzania near the border with Kenya. She has fond memories of the animal parks and would love to go back there. I would use the money and take her back to where she was born and visit the vast animal parks of Africa.

8. What song do you hear, that when you hear it, takes you right back to your childhood/teenage years? It would have to be "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" sung by B. J. Thomas and written for the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" or "Sweet Caroline" written and performed by Neil Diamond. Both songs were written in 1969.

9. What's your favorite sport and favorite team?I like quite a few sports, in fact my first major in college was physical education. But if I have to choose, my favorite sports would be baseball and football and my favorite teams are the Detroit Tigers baseball team and Detroit Lions football team.

10. McDonald's or Burger King? I rarely eat at McDonald's and never at Burger King. I have no idea where there is even a Burger King within 50 miles of our house in Northern California.

11. What is your favorite city in the world? I think San Francisco as I told you here is probably my favorite city in the world. A close second would be Paris.

Here are the bloggers that I am presenting with the Liebster Award: Belle Provence Travels, 2KidsinWineCountry, French Girl in Seattle, Sipping Espresso and Cuisine de Provence.

11 questions I have chosen for you to answer are:

1. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

2. Describe the circumstances under which you met your spouse or the significant person in your life?

3. Name your very favorite restaurant, in what city/town/village is it located and what kind of food do they serve? I am always looking for recommendations for restaurants to try.

4. What is your favorite dinner meal or "comfort food?"

5. Who is your favorite author?

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

7. What is your favorite movie of all time.

8. Tea or coffee?

9. What is your guilty pleasure?

10. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

11. What would be your dream job?

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A delicious and easy Lemon Goat Cheesecake (Gâteau au Fromage de Chèvre et Citron)

Yesterday was a warm sunny day in Northern California, a perfect day for an al fresco lunch on the backyard patio with friends. We served vegetable salads (roast baby beets and walnuts, baby leeks and herb vinaigrette, and a raw artichoke and arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette) as a first course followed by a creamy fennel risotto for the main course.

For dessert, I made a lemon goat cheesecake from a cookbook, "Paris to Provence" that I just added to my collection of cookbooks I told you about here. This newly published cookbook by Ethel Brennan and Sara Remington includes recipes and stories from their summer childhoods as they traveled with their respective families from Paris to Provence.

We chose the menu for seasonality and because we wanted to serve food that we would serve guests at our table in Sablet. Bien sur (of course), the perfect beverage for our menu was rosé wine so to add fun to our meal, we did a blind tasting of three 2012 rosés from Provence. In case you are interested, my favorite was the Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence Rosé.

I normally don't buy cookbooks written by first time authors who are non-chefs unless they are connected to a cooking school. Despite my normal hesitation, I bought this terrific book because I liked the dishes, stories and photography in the book and the foreword is written by Georgeanne Brennan a food columnist and author of several cookbooks I like alot, plus she is mother of a co-author of this book.

The meal was fabulous if I say so myself but I thought the hit was the lemon goat cheesecake. So in case you would like to make it for your next time you have guests, here is the recipe.

Lemon Goat Cheesecake (Gâteau au Fromage de Chèvre et Citron)
Serves 10


1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1/4 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
20 plain water crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces (Carr's and Jacob's are well-known UK brands)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

To make the crust, combine the walnuts, brown sugar, crackers, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until finely ground. Add the melted butter and continue to process until the mixture is moist and sticks to the sides of the processor bowl. Gather the mixture together and place in the center of a 9-or-10 inch springform pan. Using your fingertips, gently press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom and two-thirds up the sides of the pan. Put in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit


15 ounces soft goat cheese
16 ounces mascarpone
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the filling, first rinse out the food processor bowl, then again fit it with the metal blade. Place the goat cheese, mascarpone, lemon zest, eggs, sugar, and salt in the bowl, and process until smooth and creamy.

Remove the springform pan with the crust from the freezer, place in the center of a baking sheet, and pour the filling into the crust. Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature or transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. When completely cool, release the sides of the springform pan and transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Serve chilled or at room temperature, cut into slices.

It was wonderfully light with a subtle lemon taste. It was not heavy at all. I also liked that you don't have to bake it in a water bath like you do for many cheesecake recipes. I bet you couldn't tell it was made with goatcheese. This will be made often so don't be surprised if you have this Chez Michel sometime in the future.

In the words of Jacques Pepin, I wish you happy cooking. Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shirley's friends descend on litttle Sablet and have lunch at Les Abeilles Restaurant.

As I told you here, Shirley's friends and work colleagues, Liz, Yvette, and Jennifer, came to visit and see Provence for the first time last fall. On this blog, I usually write about pretty villages, historical towns or monuments, and often I write about food and wine we enjoy in Provence.

Although I mention Sablet often in my posts, I have not written a lot about our wonderful village. So this time, I will share some of what we showed Liz, Yvette, and Jennifer when they came to Sablet including an alfresco lunch on the terrace at Les Abeilles Restaurant.

In case you don't know, Sablet is a small village located near the Dentelles de Montmirail in the Vaucluse region of Provence. The village sits on a beehive shaped hill bordering the alluvial (sand, silt, clay, and gravel deposited during floods) plain of the Ouvèze River. The name Sablet comes from "sable" (sand) because the village is built on sandstone.

Sablet's neighbor to the north is Séguret, one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" (most beautiful villages of France) and to the south is Gigondas, a small hillside village of vintners who produce world class red wines from the surrounding vineyards.


Sablet is in an area between the pre-alps and the Mediterranean Sea and many people traveled through the area over the centuries. Sablet's history probably started in the 9th century when, to save the village from the invading Sarrasins, the first fortifications were built.

The village walls and towers were probably started in the 14th century and completed in 1500. They have recently been restored by the Association des Compagnons des Barrys; they are a special reminder of what life was like in Sablet during historic times.

Sablet defensive wall and tower

Sablet's economy is dependant on tourism and the production of wine. Sablet's vignerons (winemakers) make wine from grapes grown in the vineyards surrounding the village. Sablet wines are vinified into red, rosé and white with the predominant varietal being Grenache (reds and rosés) and Grenache Blanc (white).

Sablet wines were classified Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet in 1974. As I explained to you here, this classification authorizes the vignerons to add "Sablet" to labels for wine produced from grapes grown in the commune and vinified in accordance with AOC rules. There are eleven independent vignerons in Sablet and 160 grape growers who sell grapes to Les Gravillas Co-op or négociants.

Shirley and friends pause on our door step before heading out

Just a few steps from our house is a fountain with a lavoir seen below. Except for very early in the morning or late in the evening, there are always people near the fountain; a group of older men sitting on the stone wall overlooking the street or a couple of ladies in animated conversation under the roof of the lavoir because it offers some respite from the sun.

There is a small plaque on the fountain which says "eau de source non contrôlée", which means the water is probably not safe for drinking. Despite this admonition, villagers fill buckets at the fountain and a few ladies wash clothes in the lavoir the old traditional way.

Shirley and friends at the fountain and lavoir at Place Yvan Audouard

While Shirley gets up and around in the morning, I walk to Café des Sports for a petit café (single espresso) and conversation with Bruno. I like to watch the workers arrive, most are there every day, stopping in for a petit café or glass of red wine to fortify themselves for the work day that lies ahead.

Café des Sports

Each arrival is greeted with a smile and a warm "bonjour," friends are greeted with "la bise" (a kiss on each cheek). The owner, Bruno Bordeaux, seems to know exactly what each person wants and their drink is ready by the time they make their way down the length of the bar saying bonjour or salut to everyone there.

Shirley and Yvette with Bruno Bordeaux

At the end of the day, a new crowd, a mixture of locals and tourists gathers inside the café and out front on the terrace for aperitifs. On this day, we decided to have aperitifs at the café before going off to dinner. Yes, Jennifer is having a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate); Bruno was so shocked, he brought her a basket of baguette and jelly to eat with her hot chocolate.

Liz and Jennifer enjoy their aperitifs

In 2010, Bruno bought the La Come Di Pizzeria which is conveniently, next door to Café des Sports. Pizza chef Husssein who also is a bartender at the café, churns out tasty pies you can take home or eat on the terrace accompanied by a bottle of Sablet wine from Café des Sports.

Pizza chef Hussein at La Come Di Pizzeria

As you walk around Sablet, you will come upon picturesque streets, stairways adorned with flowers, the three churches I told you about here, small passageways with exposed beams, and stone houses along streets so narrow, you have to slow to a crawl so your side mirrors and bumpers don't hit a house. Trust me, I have done that several times.

Grande Rue

More of Grande Rue

Narrow covered street

Flower adorned stairway

Covered passageway

Sablet is a working village and we can find most everything we need; two boulangeries (bakeries) that I told you about here and here, a boucherie (butcher), a small grocery store, a florist, a pharmacy, a tabac/presse (where we buy magazines and daily newspapers such as La Provence and the International Herald Tribune), two hair salons, a bibliothèque (library), bank with ATM machine and post office.

Alain and Mimi Fabre own the small, but well-stocked grocery store known as "Vival Epicerie." The shelves are stocked with the usual groceries and they have a wide selection of dairy products, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, charcuterie, and beverages including pastis and local wine. While we prefer to shop at one of the weekly Provençal markets in the area, we shop often at Vival because the quality is excellent.

Alain Fabre in front of the Vival Grocery Store

Grocery shopping in Northern California or most anywhere in the United States is so different than in Sablet. When we are in Northern California, we buy groceries at Safeway. We are lucky we have an excellent bakery close by but we don't have specialty stores where we can buy fish, meat or cheese. As I mentioned earlier, we are fortunate that Sablet has a butcher, Thierry Bonfils, who stocks a wide variety of meat, sausages and charcuterie.

Sablet Boucherie

Our favorite poissonnier (fishmonger) is Edmond Lafont of Maree du Comtat Venaison. He always has an amazing assortment of fresh fish and seafood on display and on Thursdays, Monsieur Lafont parks his truck next to the grocery store in Sablet. There is usually a vendor selling locally made chèvre (goat cheese) at a table right in front of the fish truck.

Sablet’s Maison de Retraite (Retirement Home) is just across the road from Café des Sports.

Le Tilleul d'Or Maison de Retraite (Retirement Home)

Some of the streets are named after artisans who lived and worked there like Rue du Cordonnier, the shoemaker's street.

Rue du Cordonnier

In case you don't know, Sablet is famous for its book fair “Journée du Livre de Sablet” celebrated in the center of the village the 3rd weekend of every July. Well known authors and literary enthusiasts from all over come to the village for book readings and signings for this fête which spreads to many of the Sablet wineries where special events are held with music and other entertainment.

View down Grande Rue from kitchen terrace

Here are a few more views of Sablet.

View towards the Dentelles de Montmirail from bedroom balcony

A narrow Sablet street

Sablet Library

Just 1.25 miles north of Sablet, and within easy walking distance, is the village of Séguret. The little village stretches around a solitary hill topped by ruins of its medieval castle. The small central square of Séguret has a 14th-century stone bell tower with a 17th-century belfry and a single-hand clock dating from 1680. On this same square is a lavoir built in 1846 and the 17th-century fountain with its four stone faces.

Shirley and friends at the fountain in Séguret

On a perfectly sunny, warm Provencal day, we went to lunch at Les Abeilles Restaurant in Sablet with friends Liz, Yvette and Jennifer. Les Abeilles is located just a short distance from our house at the entrance to the village on the Route de Vaison.

Les Abeilles Restaurant

Les Abeilles, literally translated "the bees", has been owned by Marlies and chef Johannes Sailer since November 2003. As soon as we were seated, Madame Sailer brought us menus and the Chef's amuse bouche to nibble while we decided what to eat.

The gang on the terrace at Les Abeilles Restaurant

Being we were in Provence and it was a warm day, we selected a chilled bottle of 2011 Domaine Champfort Sablet Rosé from the wine list, a tasty blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah.

Domaine Chamfort Sablet Rosé

For starters, Shirley and her friends all chose simple green salads with tomatoes.

Green salad with tomatoes

I decided to be a little more adventuresome and I chose the oysters gratinées.

Oysters Gratinées

For main courses, the girls all chose the tagliatelles with carrots, zucchini and mushrooms in a cream sauce. Parmesan cheese was served on the side.

Pasta with a creamy vegetable sauce

My choice was braised biche (doe) with Alsatian spaetzle.

Braised biche (doe) with Alsatian spaetzle

One dessert choice was a tarte fine aux pommes (apple tart) with ice cream.

Tarte fine aux pommes (apple tart)

The other dessert choice was poached pears with ice cream.

Poached pair with ice cream

Shirley enjoyed being able to have lunch with her friends at Les Abeilles; don't you think she looks quite French with her scarf.


Sablet is a circular village and the streets curl up in concentric circles to the Romanesque church of St. Nazaire (12th century). The bell tower of the church is the highest point in the village. The church bell rings hourly between 7 AM and 10 PM. There is something very charming about the sounds of those bells. At night, you can see the lighted bell tower from a long ways off as you approach Sablet.

St Nazaire Church Bell Tower

Thanks for coming along with us as we showed Liz, Yvette and Jennifer around Sablet. I can't wait till we are back in Sablet in a few weeks. Have a great day. Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.