Monday, July 26, 2010

Les Deux Garçons, Aix-en-Provence

Cours Mirabeau is the main boulevard of Aix-en-Provence. Created in 1650 for carriages, today it is a busy street with locals and tourists walking, shopping and enjoying the sights. With its double row of plane trees and succession of fountains along the boulevard, Cours Mirabeau is one of the most beautiful streets I have seen in the South of France.

It is a very popular place for locals and tourists to sit in cafés that line the boulevard from beautiful Fontaine de la Rotonde at one end of the boulevard to Fontaine du Roi René at the other. The oldest and most famous of these is Brasserie Les Deux Garçons. Established in 1792, it was a hang out for Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola.

I have wanted to eat at Les Deux Garçons for a long time despite reading on Chowhound and other foodie sites that Les Deux Garçons is full of tourists so food and service are supposedly not very good. It just never worked out as we generally arrive after déjeuner - lunch time or we eat at cousin Annick's house just outside of Aix.

I always get amused when I read inquiries on foodie sites from people who will be traveling to a region or city of France, i.e. a tourist asking for recommendations for good places to eat "not frequented by tourists". I guess the fact that they (tourist themselves) will be there is OK but no other tourists. It makes me shake my head. Anyway, I digress.

A few weeks back, I had to go Aix-en-Provence to pick up the place mats and table cloths I had ordered to take back with me for our Bistro Des Copains. It was just before noon when I walked out of the store so I decided to head over to Cours Mirabeau and eat at Les Deux Garçons. It was a sunny day after 10 days in a row of gray skies so I asked for a seat on the terrace.

I was seated at a small table set with a white linen table cloth, nice utensils and good stem ware. Being Friday, Aïoli Provençal was the special of the day. I have never had Aïoli Provençal so that is what I ordered. My request was noted and a copy of the order slip was left on the table.

While I waited for my Aïoli, I watched as the maître d seated businessmen, students and tourists till the terrace was full of hungry diners. As I watched platters being delivered by servers to tables, it was evident that most diners had ordered the Aïoli. Given the large number of obviously regular diners, I figured the Aïoli must be good.

Aïoli Provençal is a typical dish of Provence. The Aïoli served by Les Deux Garçons consisted of steamed potatoes, bulots - sea snails, cauliflower, carrots, beets, haricots vert and boiled egg accompanied by cabillaud - cod, all artfully arranged around a glass of pungent aïoli. Aïoli is a smooth mixture of lemon, eggs, garlic, and olive oil that resembles mayonnaise.

For dessert, I chose the vanilla crème brulée.

Despite the generally negative reports about Les Deux Garçons on foodie sites, I thought the food was very good. While service was not warm or overly friendly by any means, I certainly got good service, which is all I ever expect in a French restaurant. I am sure I will eat again at Les Deux Garçons if only to get a chance to sit and watch the activity on beautiful Cours Mirabeau.


  1. I've heard very mixed reviews of Les Deux Garcons as well - great to hear you had a nice experience and that aioli does look mighty good!

  2. Tuula - As I wrote, the reviews are very mixed; but I went there for the experience and to sit on the Cours Mirabeau. There were many locals eating on that Friday and the aioli was very good.