Saturday, December 19, 2015

Artisan Ice Cream in Céreste Provence

I have a well-deserved reputation among family members for devoting leisure time reading to books and magazines about food, wine, fiction set in France or true stories that took place there. Favorite writers include Peter Mayle, a British author famous for books detailing life in Provence and Martin Walker, author of the "Bruno" chief of police series set in the Périgord region.

Several years back, I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Lunch in Paris" by Elizabeth Bard, a combination memoir and cookbook about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs; one with her beau, Gwendal, the other with French food.

Earlier this year, came "Picnic in Provence", another book authored by Elizabeth about a trip to the tiny Provencal village of Céreste. By chance, they come across the wartime home of a famous poet, and Elizabeth and Gwendal decided to move, lock, stock and Le Creuset to the Provence countryside.

When they arrive in Provence, they discover a land of blue skies, lavender fields and peaches that taste like sunshine. Seduced by the local ingredients, they become ice cream entrepreneurs, opening an artisanal ice cream shop and offer flavors like saffron, sheep's milk yogurt and fruity olive oil.

I was surprised to find out this fall that friend Mary, a fellow Francophile, had been reading "Picnic in Provence" at the same time as me back in Michigan. When she suggested during one of our telephone conversations about our upcoming trip to Provence, that we visit Elizabeth Bard's village and ice cream shop, I didn't need arm twisting.

Since Céreste is a little drive from Sablet (91 kms), we made reservations and stopped for lunch on the way at a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand restaurant in Caseneuve, a village on top of a hill about 13 kms from Céreste. So after a very nice lunch that I will tell you about in a future post, we headed to Céreste.

Céreste is a Roman-era village with a Medieval part with beautiful stone houses from the 15th and 18th century in a tight circle of narrow streets at the foot of the Luberon mountain range, between the towns of Forcalquier and Apt. Saint Michel Church seen below was built in the 18th century.

Saint Michel Church in Céreste

The village has quite a few shops and cafés that line the main road that runs through Céreste. This is where you will find the Mairie (Town Hall), seen below and Scaramouche Artisan Glacier, Elizabeth and husband Gwendal's artisan ice cream shop.

The Céreste Mairie (Town Hall)

As I mentioned earlier, it was while the Bard's were in Provence, following the footsteps of poet and Resistance leader René Char, Gwendal and Elizabeth, fell in love with the area and, in a mad moment, set up home in the village of Céreste, in the very same house where René Char had lived during the Second World War.

After a year of research, development and construction, Elizabeth and Gwendal along with partners, Rod Heath, a British friend who runs a bed and breakfast in Céreste and Emmanuel Sciara, friend of Gwendal and Elizabeth, a Parisian working in the computer industry, of Italian origin, opened in 2013.

Dominican Republic Chocolate and Kenya Coffee Ice Cream

The name Scaramouche comes from the 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Technicolor romantic adventure film based on the 1921 novel Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini as well as the 1923 film version starring Ramón Novarro. A romantic adventure in a historical setting, Scaramouche tells the story of a young lawyer during the French Revolution.

The Scaramouche website lists 23 ice cream flavors, 18 sorbets, a sheep's milk frozen yogurt, ice cream sundaes and cakes. There is also a listing of whom they source ingredients and in what town they are located, right down to the fresh mint and rosemary they get from their garden.

Steve and Mary at Scaramouche Artisan Glacier in Céreste

Although it was not very busy the Saturday we were there in early October, business must be OK, because in June 2015, Scaramouche opened a second ice cream parlor in Paris at 22 Rue La Vieuville in Montmartre, between Place des Abbesses and Sacré Coeur.

I love ice cream, clearly my favorite dessert except maybe Shirley's strawberry rhubarb tart topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream of course. I opted for two of my favorite flavors, Dominican Republic Chocolate and Kenya Coffee ice cream, rather than try one of their more exotic flavors.

The flavors I chose were excellent, very rich, smooth and full of flavor. So we will have to return a few times to taste our way through their flavors. I can imagine a return trip to meet up with cousin Pascale who lives near Apt or with our grandchildren when we go this summer.

I should mention they are going to be closed for a holiday during January and February. And like most shops in the countryside, they take a break over lunch at the Céreste shop. In Paris, they are open from 12:00 noon without stop to midnight.

Scaramouche Artisan Glacier
Cours Aristide Briand
04280 Céreste
Tel: 04 92 79 48 82

As usual, I have not been provided any consideration for posting about Scaramouche Artisan Glacier. I only do so because we loved the ice cream and I like Elizabeth's story. Have a great week. A bientot.


  1. I enjoyed reading both of her books! Just finished Picnic in Provence a couple of weeks ago. Interesting that they have opened a place in Paris as well! Connie

    1. Happy New Year. Yes, I enjoyed both books as well as I said. I look forward to making a return visit to Cereste and trying more of their ice creams. Thanks for leaving a comment. It is much appreciated.

  2. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Picnic in Provence and loved it! This is on my list of places to visit once my house sells and I move to France! Love your blog.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping in to visit my blog and for leaving a comment. I hope you get the chance to visit Cereste and try their ice cream in the very near future.