Thursday, April 16, 2015

A trip to Carpentras for the market and lunch at Chez Serge

It is not unusual to find us headed to Carpentras on Friday morning's for the market or shopping for kid's clothes (If you are thinking about shopping for kid's or grandkid's clothes, Shirley's favorite boutiques are in Carpentras.). Carpentras is a short 25 minute ride down the D-7 from Sablet. As we get near, we see Notre-Dame de l'Observance Church towering over Carpentras.

Notre-Dame de l'Observance Church was built at the middle of the sixteenth century. It was established as a parish church in 1792. The church was restored at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Steeple of Notre Dame de l'Observance Church

This morning I dropped Shirley off near the 14th-century Porte d'Orange, a massive fortified arch, and went to find parking. After a little disagreement with an unpleasant lady about a parking place, I got myself installed and headed for the center of Carpentras which is concentrated inside a ring of boulevards that circle the old town.

Carpentras house

Market day in Carpentras is Friday, a good day to visit and see the town at its liveliest. The market is held in the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, which was the center of the old Jewish community until the 19th century, when the houses were cleared away to make way for this large open square.

Market stalls in front of the Town Hall

As I was walking to meet Shirley, I came upon this attractive fromagerie (cheese shop). I knew I shouldn't do it, but I couldn't help myself and entered the shop to see what tasty cheeses were on display.

Cheese and wine shop

Carpentras has a historic Synagogue (at the Place de la Mairie), built in 1367, it's one of the oldest synagogues in existence in France and still in use today. This building is testimony to the town's ancient Jewish community, which was protected by the Papacy during an era of persecution in France.

Carpentras Synagogue

The 28 foot Roman arch in Carpentras is the only remaining testimony of the Roman period. It was built in the 1st century AD under Emperor Augustus to commemorate the Roman victory over the Barbarians.

The Roman Arch next to the 17th century Episcopal Palace at Place d'Inguimbert

The arch sits next to the 17th century Episcopal Palace (which became the Palais de Justice after Carpentras was incorporated into France at the end of the 18th century). This structure has only one arch decorated with sculpted figures representing chained prisoners on its lateral sides.

Roman Arch

In the center of Carpentras is Saint-Siffrein Cathedral which was built on the ruins of a Roman church. The cathedral was constructed in Gothic style by order of Pope Benedict XIII. The work lasted for more then a century, from 1404 to 1519. One of the cathedral's most unusual features is the south doorway known as the Porte Juive (Jews' Gate). This ornate Gothic doorway was designed as an entrance for Jews who wished to be baptized.

Saint-Siffrein Cathedral

Faded house

In existence since 1155, the Carpentras market has two special claims to fame. Sweet, juicy local strawberries (fraises de Carpentras) begin to appear in spring. At the other end of the year, winter truffles perfume the air around the Café de l’Univers from late November to March.

Market street

As you can see below, I found Shirley sitting on a the edge of a fountain.

The memorial seen below commemorates the residents of Carpentras who were killed or went missing in the Great War (World War I).

War Memorial

Carpentras house

Founded in 1585, the Brotherhood of White Penitents installed themselves near Saint-Jean-du-Bourg Church. Their chapel seen below was consecrated in 1661. The chapel was rebuilt in 1705 and 1779.

Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs

Our go to restaurant for lunch in Carpentras is Chez Serge Restaurant which is located on the ring road near Allée des Platanes. The Restaurant has been owned by Serge Ghoukassian since 1987.

Chez Serge Restaurant

Serge is a passionate man, especially about wine and truffles, he was named the Best Sommelier of the year in 2008 and truffles are on the menu most of the time. We usually order off the 3-course l’Ardoise du Jour (daily slate special) for 17 Euros.

This day the Amuse Bouche was fall truffles in olive oil and sea salt.

Fall truffles (Italy, not Alba) in olive oil and sea salt

Domaine de Fondreche Côtes du Ventoux Rosé

For starter, I chose the softly boiled egg with chickpea puree and Shirley chose the eggplant soufflé (Papeton) with tomato sauce and greens.

Soft boiled egg with chickpea puree

Eggplant soufflé (Papeton) with tomato sauce and greens

For main course, Shirley chose the brochette of salmon with mashed potatoes, grilled eggplant and finished with a beurre blanc sauce and I chose the brochette of lamb with mash potatoes, grilled eggplant and mushrooms.

Brochette of salmon with mashed potatoes, grilled eggplant and a beurre blanc sauce

Brochettes of lamb with mashed potatoes, grilled eggplant, and mushrooms

To finish we chose the Faisselle with red fruit sauce. Originally the word "faisselle" referred to a container made of wicker and pierced with holes to drain the cheese. Over time, it came to mean the actual cheese. Made from cow, goat or lamb's milk, faisselle is characterized by a very high humidity ratio (up to 85%) and no rind.

Faisselle with red fruit sauce

We also ordered a lemon tart with lemon sorbet.

Lemon tart with lemon sorbet

We enjoyed our tasty lunch, the Restaurant was very busy, and service was a little slow and uneven. But it didn't bother us, the market was over and shops were closed until 2 or 3. Don't let it bother you.

Chez Serge Restaurant
90 Rue Cottier
84200 Carpentras
Tel: 04 90 63 21 24

Have a great weekend. Chat soon.


  1. If ever I needed convincing to go eat at Serge's your photos did it!

    1. We think it is a great choice for lunch after the market. It is always busy but we always have an enjoyable experience.