Tuesday, January 7, 2014

La Charrette Bleue, an excellent restaurant on the road through the Drôme Provençale

We found our car, not always easy to do with a rental car in a strange town, and headed toward Route de Gap for the 7 km drive east to La Charrette Bleue restaurant near Les Pilles, a tiny village in Drôme Provençale.

We had dined at the restaurant once before some years back after a Tuesday morning market in Vaison-la-Romaine. On that day, it was gray and gloomy and pouring down rain, so we sat in the cozy dining room.

Today, it was the opposite, a sunny warm day, with brilliant blue sky. It didn't take long to get to La Charrette Bleue, the restaurant sits right off the road, and a blue cart (for that is what the name means) sits on the roof.

We had good memories of our first meal and the restaurant was now designated a Bib Gourmand, an inspector's favorite for good value and listed in Michelin's Guide to Bonnes Petites Tables. As I have told you, we generally have very good meals in restaurants designated Bib Gourmand.

La Charrette Bleue Restaurant

We were among the first to arrive for lunch and were immediately seated on the covered terrace. The building was formerly a "relais de poste" or a place where fresh horses were kept along the postal route to replace tired horses. The restaurant is owned by the chef Paul Roussel.

Terrace at La Charrette Bleue

We made our selections and sat back to enjoy the chilled Château La Courançonne Séguret Rosé and the amuse bouche of zucchini gazpacho with fresh goat cheese from the chef. Pictures of our other dishes follow.

Amuse bouche of zucchini gazpacho with fresh goat cheese

Goat cheese creme brulee with herb salad

Market vegetable salad with light vinaigrette

Fillet of sole with champagne sauce with a dill risotto and caviar

Roast saddle of lamb stuffed with herbs and pine nuts with a thyme sauce

Potato fennel gratin

Duo of ile flottante and creme caramel on creme anglaise

Warm orange chocolate tart, lightly caramelized with house made chocolate ice cream

While our mouths and stomachs savored every bite of the excellent food prepared by the chef, our eyes took in the beautiful countryside which surrounds the restaurant.

Countryside next to La Charrette Bleue

As I told you here, we were on an excursion through the Drôme Provençale near our house in Sablet. We had started our day at the Thursday morning market in Nyons and we had just finished a wonderful lunch at La Charrette Bleue.

Our plan for the afternoon was to drive a circuit starting on the D64 heading toward Buis-les-Baronnies and then follow the D5 back to Vaison-la-Romaine and home to Sablet. As I drove along, I spotted a pretty church steeple above the roof tops and slowed down to enter the little village of Curnier. Here are a few sights that caught my eye.

Pretty house in Curnier

Curnier fountain and lavoir

Flowers on house in Curnier

Flowers on house in Curnier

Curnier church

I wanted to visit Buis-les-Baronnies because the young man who comes to Sablet every Thursday morning as I told you here to sell goat cheese, jam, fruit juice and olive oil made by his family, comes from Buis-les-Baronnies. He has told me several times that we should visit.

Buis-les-Baronnies is located in a fertile high valley of the Ouvèze river in Drôme Provençale that produces lavender, olives, apricots and limes; the surrounding mountains form a natural shelter around the village, within sight of Mont Ventoux.

Arcades surround Place du Marché

The houses and buildings of Buis-les-Baronnies are largely on the right bank of the Ouvèze river. The town built a large dike in 1776 to protect itself from periodic floods of the river, bordered by a beautiful promenade of plane trees.

Buis-les-Baronnies street

Arcades surround Place du Marché

La place du Marché has been crowded since before 1291 with artisan shops of various kinds. It is surrounded by pretty arcades, for the most part Gothic, reminding you of towns in Germany and Switzerland. The resemblance is due to construction which took place in the 15th century when Louis XI sent Germans troopers to rebuild Buis-les-Baronnies after a terrible plague in 1348 reduced the population by half.

Place du Marché

Pretty house above arcade at Place du Marché

Old, narrow street in Buis-les-Baronnies

Buis-les-Baronnies war memorial

The Rocher Saint Julien (literally translates as the rock Saint Julien) is a long, thin and tall limestone formation just over the village of Buis-les-Baronnies. Buis-les-Baronnies is a favorite destination for rock climbers (there are routes in the Gorges d'Ubrieux and on the rock Saint-Julien, as well as a rock climbing school.

Rocher Saint Julien

Notre-Dame de Nazareth Church

We finished up our visit to Buis-les-Baronnies with drinks at a café near Place du Marché before heading off for the final leg of our drive through Drôme Provençale; back to Sablet. All in all, one of our favorite ways to spend a day in Provence; a bustling market, an excellent lunch, wandering through a new village, and spending time together with drinks at a local café.

La Charrette Bleue
Route de Gap
26110 Condorcet
Tel: 04 75 27 72 33
Website: http://restaurant-la-charrette-bleue.com/


  1. I hope you both realize how incredibly LUCKY you are to be where you are and to be doing what you do. Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Buis les Baronnies is great for buying truffles when in season (as in right now).

  3. This is a perfect example of why I love your posts, Michel. Food, scenery, history--all at once!! We are just back from the cottage near Simiane so weren't so far away. :) And now you have me very, very curious about this restaurant--the food looks amazing...
    Happy 2014!

  4. Lovely meals, lovely scenery. Thanks for 'taking us along'.

  5. I'd love to live in a cute little village, but not very pratical for working in marseille i'm afraid. Oh well, maybe once we retire. (Plus a house in the US)

  6. Jo-Anne - We definitely know that we are blessed to be able to travel back and forth like we do.

    Cuisine de Provence - Barbara, I hope we can find some truffles when we get to Sablet at the end of February.

    Heather - I am very honored that you like my posts. I dream of being able to take pictures like you do. You need to make a visit to the Northern Vaucluse; there's is lots to see.

    Sullivan's - You are most welcome. We hope to run into you in Vaison-la-Romaine next month.

    Megan - You are right about not being too practical, although I am sure your new baby would love life in a less urban environment. I am wish you all the best with your new baby; it will make for a grand 2014.