Monday, February 22, 2016

Le Sanglier Paresseux Restaurant, Caseneuve

A couple of months back, I told you about a trip we took with our friends Steve and Mary to taste ice cream at Scaramouche Artisan Glacier, the ice cream shop owned by Elizabeth Bard and her husband Gwendal in Céreste.

As I told you here, it is 91 km from Sablet to Céreste, so we 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.

Caseneuve is an attractive little village (population 505 in 2015) in the heart of the Luberon, near Apt. The skyline of Caseneuve is very distinctive and can be seen from miles away in the valley. Conversely, once you are in the village, there are majestic, far-reaching views.

Hilltop village of Caseneuve

We got to Caseneuve and found the Sanglier Paresseux (The Lazy Boar) restaurant without any difficulty. The restaurant which is owned by the chef Fabricio Delgaudio opened in April 2009.

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, the chef arrived in France in 2005 and worked in some of France's most prestigious kitchens such as those of Alain Ducasse and of Yannick Alléno at the Hotel Meurice before opening Le Sanglier Paresseux.

Le Sanglier Paresseux Restaurant

We were seated immediately in a pretty dining room where it seemed most tables were occupied, which I thought unusual given it was well into October and Caseneuve is somewhat off the beaten path.

As soon as we were seated, a tray made of slate was brought to our table bearing corn bread with olives and jambon. We nibbled away while we all perused the menu.

Corn bread with olives and jambon

As soon as we made our choices and passed them to our server, the chef sent out an Amuse Bouche of velouté of squash in small cups. It seemed we were off to a good start, I didn't expect otherwise since we are rarely disappointed by Bib Gourmand restaurants.

Velouté of squash

The meal and service were excellent.

Château La Verrière

We all chose the same entrée to start our meal, except several opted to forgo the gambas.

Velouté of butternut squash with gambas

For our main course, we selected one of the three options which follow; scallops and clams with mashed potatoes and caramelized leeks with saffron sauce.

Scallops and clams with mashed potatoes and caramelized leeks with a saffron sauce


Quail stuffed with foie gras, sautéed foie gras, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli and deep fried banana


Rouget of Roche with same set up as quail except for foie gras


We kept seeing this beautiful tray with cheeses of all type passing through the dining room and knew at least one of us was going to have to sample the cheese selections.

Cheese tray

Right after Shirley made her choices, we heard a loud clatter and that beautiful platter of cheese went crashing down as the server tripped on the steps leading back toward the kitchen.

Selection of cheese with honey

For those of us who were indulging in dessert plus ice cream later at Scaramouche Artisan Glacier, our choice was the parfait shown below.


After we paid the bill, we spent a few minutes exploring Caseneuve before we headed to Céreste to eat ice cream.

Caseneuve is dominated by its castle, which looks outsize considering the rest of the village, and indicates the ambition of the ruling family that built it in the 970s. This family, the Agoults, then moved on to other strongholds and took their wealth and connections with them, so the village never grew to catch up with the size of the castle. All that is left of them is their enigmatic motto: “Lilia sustentant turres” (the towers sustain the lilies).

Although it is not open to the public, from the outside you can still admire the somber architecture, the ramparts, the towers and high stone walls bleached white with age.

The castle of Caseneuve

Many of the tiny side streets you come across end quickly in private gardens or front porches, and a couple minutes walk in any direction will take you out of the village. But what you do see in the village are ancient stone-walled houses lining narrow streets with vaulted passageways.

Caseneuve pottery shop

The gigantic and unusual oratory seen below is the largest religious shrine in Provence (1830) and can be found set in rural surroundings at the entrance to the village. It was built to commemorate a Franciscan mission trip and shelter the mission's cross.


Some of the "newer" houses are integrated into the old fortifications of which three original defensive towers still remain.

Defensive tower

The "Cercle de L'Union" seen below is an association whose mission is to help foster the development of culture, arts, sports, social life and economy of Casenueve.

Le Cercle de L'Union de Caseneuve

The church seen below is dedicated to Saint Etienne and is very old, probably going back to when Christianity was introduced to the Apt region. The church was expanded and modified in the late 1600's. The first clock was hung in 1737. The two clocks that were put up in 1902 were blown to the ground in 1945 by a strong Mistral and was replaced by the small iron campanile seen currently.

Saint-Etienne Church

An elderly woman enjoys the sunshine

I would not drive all the way from Sablet just to dine at Le Sanglier Paresseux Restaurant or visit Caseneuve. However if you are in the Apt area, Le Sanglier Paresseux Restaurant would be an excellent and highly recommended place to dine. Don't hesitate.

Le Sanglier Paresseux Restaurant
84750 Caseneuve
Tel: 04 90 75 17 70

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lacoste, from the Marquis de Sade to Pierre Cardin

Lacoste is a well-preserved village that sits on a mountain ridge with great views to the east across a valley filled with vineyards and orchards to Bonnieux and the Grand Luberon Mountains. At the top of the village are the ruins of the castle of the Marquis de Sade now owned by Pierre Cardin.

Café de France

Lacoste has had a tumultuous history. During the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, the Parliament of Aix ordered the destruction of certain villages in the Luberon including Lacoste because the inhabitants were not considered sufficiently Catholic. The Baron de Oppède, Jean Maynier, slaughtered the entire village population in 1545.

Town Hall (Mairie in French) with sundial on the wall

As I said, the ruins of the Marquis de Sade castle crown the top of the village. Unless you have a kinky side, you may not know that the Marquis de Sade was an aristocrat, politician, philosopher, and writer famous for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle who lived in the family castle during the 1770s.

He is best known for his writings which combined philosophy with erotic images depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, criminality, and blasphemy against the Catholic Church. He was a proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law. His writings gave rise to the term sadism – enjoyment of cruelty.

Well preserved Lacoste door

After World War II, Lacoste, which has nothing to do with the tennis player and his crocodile shirts - was nearly empty, with fewer than 30 people on the electoral rolls. It was a base for the French resistance, and many of the structures were in ruins.

In 2001, the Italian-born French designer Pierre Cardin bought the ruins of the castle along with an attached quarry. He renovated the quarry into a performance area and stage and established a summer music festival. It is said that today Pierre Cardin owns more than 40 buildings in Lacoste.

Arched passageway

In 1958, an American painter named Bernard Pfriem came to Lacoste and fell in love with the village. He bought a house, then bought a few more and began to restore them. In 1970, he started the Lacoste School of Arts which was taken over in 2002 by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), based in Georgia.

SCAD facilities include a library, gallery, dining hall and housing as well as teaching studios dedicated to painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography and digital imaging.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Please check out the sites we saw as we walked around Lacoste.

Lacoste house

Grapevine growing up on Lacoste house

Stone arch gateway to Lacoste

Lacoste gate through defensive walls

Rue Basse seen below, is known amongst locals as the “Cardin Champs Elysées” leads down to an arched stone gate.

Rue Basse in Lacoste

Saint Trophime Church which dates from the 12th century is located outside the medieval walls of Lacoste. The church is the burial place for the former Lords of Lacoste who were from the powerful Simiane family. It is a complicated structure which has undergone several reconstructions. The parts from the time of the Romans is still clearly visible.

Bell tower of Saint Trophime church

The entrance into the church through the Southern façade resulted from a renovation to the Roman door in the 17th century.

The entrance to Saint Trophime church

Saint Trophime church was named after a saint who was the first Bishop of Arles. Legend has it that he came to Arles in 46.

The interior of Saint Trophime church

Bell tower of Saint Trophime Church

One of the many great views from Lacoste

An ornate old fountain in Lacoste

The Portal de la Garde seen below was rebuilt at the same time as the walls of the village in the latter half of the 16th century.

Portail de la Garde, a fortified entrance into Lacoste

Portail des Chèvres, literally translated into English as the goat's door (from the 14th-15th century) seen below opens to the South and is the high entrance into the village.

Portail des Chèvres, literally translated as the goat's door

Old boulangerie (bakery) in Lacoste and cobblestone street which leads to the castle ruins

Lacoste house

A peek through an open doorway to the valley below

Vaulted doorway

The village has charming narrow streets, paved in "calade" stone. You will come across beautiful old stone houses, some of which are being restored. Most are made from ochre and limestone.

Lacoste homes

The belfry seen below was built in 1550. The campanile was added more recently.

Lacoste belfry

The belfry marks the entrance to the area that was reserved for the Lords of Lacoste.

The belfry of Lacoste with campanile

Lacoste castle


Shirley taking in the beautiful views

Modern bronze sculptures near the Lacoste castle

The Lacoste castle sits on an extension of the northern flank of the Little Luberon on which Lacoste stands. This position offers its occupants superb views over the valley of the Calavon, the Monts de Vaucluse, Mont Ventoux and the Alps, as well as the village of Bonnieux which can be seen on a neighboring hill.

The castle of Lacoste

The Lacoste chateau dates back to the 11th century and is best known as the home of the notorious Marquis de Sade in the late 1700's. In 2001 the castle was bought by fashion designer Pierre Cardin as a second home. Since his arrival in Lacoste, Pierre Cardin has done his best to convert Lacoste into a "Saint-Tropez of culture," opening gallery spaces, a café-restaurant, a grocery store and an array of renovated guesthouses and apartments.

The castle of Lacoste

In homage to the infamous former resident Marquis de Sade, Pierre Cardin erected a bronze statue of Sade, using the only known authentic portrait. It depicts the Marquis's head inside a cage, to evoke his fate as a martyr to the freedom of expression.

Bronze sculpture of the Marquis de Sade

Bronze sculpture near the Lacoste castle

The castle of Lacoste

The castle of Lacoste

Old windmill in the quarry outside of Lacoste

The temple seen below was built in the 19th century and later became the community hall.

Old temple, now functions as community hall

Street leading to the old temple

The ruins of the Lacoste castle stand atop the village

The houses of Lacoste cascade down the hill from the chateau

This old lavoir is on the D109, just outside Lacoste. There's a fresh water spring here, and in years past the villagers came here to get water and to wash their clothes.

Lacoste fountain and lavoir

If you are a lover of history and architecture, Lacoste should be on your list of Luberon villages to visit. If your preference runs more to shops and cafes, there are not a lot to be found in Lacoste. So plan your day so you can visit Lacoste and then go to one of the neighboring villages such as Bonnieux for lunch.