His son Matthias has spent several summers at our home in California and in fact Shirley calls him her "summer son." Matthias lives in Paris with girlfriend Aurélie where they are finishing law school at the Sorbonne. He is a special part of our family and tries to spend time with us every time we are in Sablet.
One Tuesday in June when Matthias was visiting for a few days, Jean-Marc arranged his schedule so he could meet us for lunch in Avignon, roughly midway between Sablet and Montpellier where he teaches medicine at the University of Montpellier, and then we would go see cousins André and Mauricette in nearby Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.
We parked and headed toward the restaurant. As we made our way through the crowds of tourists taking pictures of the Palais des Papes, we passed the Opera-Theatre seen below, built in 1825 on Place de l’Horloge. Rebuilt in 1847 after a fire, the Opera House offers music, dance, theater and opera performances throughout the year.
Immediately left of the Opera-Theatre is the Hotel de Ville built in 1845 on the west side of Place de l'Horloge (Clock Square). As I told you here, the City of Avignon sets up a Provençal crèche with 600 santons in the lobby of the Hotel de Ville at Christmas time. A santon is a small hand-painted, terracotta figurine produced by artisans in Provence. The santons represent various characters from Provençal village life such as the baker, the winemaker, and the farmer wife with eggs.
|Hotel De Ville|
The 14th and 15th century clock tower that gives its name to Place de l'Horloge (Clock Square) is separated from this lively brasserie-filled square by the Hotel de Ville.
|Bell tower and clock on top of the Hotel De Ville|
We were headed to La Fourchette, a restaurant owned by Philippe and Danièle Hiély since 1982.
|La Fourchette Restaurant|
Chef Hiély offers a three-course menu with 10 tasty options for both starter and main course for 33 €. Cousins Jean-Marc and Matthias pause for a picture while we wait for entrées (first course) to be brought to our table.
|Cousins Matthias and Jean-Marc|
Our entrées choices included this Shrimp with Chinese Cabbage;
|Shrimp with Chinese cabbage|
A delicious Tomato Velouté with Pan-seared Foie Gras;
|Tomato velouté with pan-seared foie gras|
Shirley had the Ravioli of Brousse Cheese and Spinach with Saffron Sauce;
|Ravioli of Brousse cheese and spinach with saffron sauce|
And I had the Tomato Eggplant Tart with Mâche.
|Tomato eggplant tart with mâche|
Our choices for plat (main course) included Scallops with Fennel Puree;
|Scallops with fennel puree|
Monkfish over Zucchini with a Verbena Sauce;
|Monkfish over zucchini with a verbena sauce|
A whole roasted Daurade;
|Whole roasted Daurade|
A yummy Fennel Gratin accompanied the whole roasted fish. This was so good I have been trying to replicate this at home.
Our other main course selection included whole roasted Loup de Mer.
|Whole roasted Loup de Mer|
For desserts, we chose a Meringue with Hot Chocolate Sauce;
|Meringue with hot chocolate sauce|
A Babba aux Rhum;
|Babba aux rhum|
An Apple Tart Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream;
|Apple tart tatin with vanilla ice cream|
And a Praline Meringue.
When you are with Jean-Marc, there is no question if you will take an espresso to finish your meal.
|Espresso with coconut macaroon|
This was our second time to dine at La Fourchette and both meals were excellent. I wouldn't order the Tomato Eggplant Tart again. While it was very good, it didn't compare to the other starters and options on the menu. I am asked frequently about places to dine in Avignon and La Fourchette would be one of my top choices.
After lunch, we walked to Place Crillon. On old maps of Avignon, Place Crillon looks like it's the second largest place (square) after Place de l'Horloge. First called Place de la Porte de l'Oulle, then Place de l'Oulle, later Place de la Comédie, and in 1843 it was named Place Crillon in honor of Louis Des Balbes de Berton de Crillon, a famous captain of the 16th century who died in Avignon in 1615.
|Place Crillon near the Avignon defensive wall|
La Fourchette Restaurant
17 Rue Racine
Tel: 04 90 85 20 93
Have a great weekend! A bientot.