Thursday, December 31, 2015

Visit to Beautiful Village of Ansouis and Lunch at 1 Star Michelin Restaurant La Closerie

It was October and we were back in Sablet with friends Steve and Mary from Michigan. One of our morning rituals is to sit around the kitchen table drinking petit cafes and reading our ipods and English language papers. Invariably the question is asked, usually by Mary, "Michel, what's the plan for the day"?

I had been told by several guests that there is an excellent restaurant in the Luberon village of Ansouis. I knew that Steve and Mary had not been to Ansouis so one morning when the question was asked, I decided that was where we were going to that day. Breakfast over, we headed out the door.

Ansouis is a very pretty old village, perched on a low hill with a restored chateau. The village is located 1 1/2 hours southeast of Sablet (north of the Durance river and south of the Luberon mountains).

Ansouis is classified as one of the Plus Beaux (most beautiful) Villages of France, one of 151 villages in France with this designation. There is a an extensive evaluation process to become a Plus Beaux Villages de France with two initial requirements which must be met:

1. the village has to be rural size and the population can not exceed 2,000 inhabitants;

2. the village has to have at least 2 protected sites or monuments (either listed or registered on the list of historical monuments).

Like other villages in the area, tourism along with agriculture (vineyards and olive groves) play a very important part in the Ansouis economy.


We arrived in Ansouis and found La Closerie Restaurant a short distance from the entrance to the village on Boulevard des Platanes. Being October, déjeûner (lunch) was being served in a very pretty dining room. I assume there is a terrace for dining alfresco when weather permits, but we didn't see it.

La Closerie Restaurant

The restaurant which is owned by Olivier Alemany, a native of Marseille and his wife Delphine, has been in business for 12 years. The chef offers a variety of 3 course menus starting at 29 Euros for lunch during the week. Our meal started with the amuse bouche seen below.

Amuse Bouche of Smoked Salmon, Pickled Carrot, Cauliflower, Beets and Radicchio

Green Salad with Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower, Radish, Green Tomato, and Pea Shoots

Cèpes Mushroom Soup with Diced Potatoes and Poached Egg

Wild Fish Carpaccio

Lievre (rabbit) in Red Wine Sauce with Chanterelle Mushroom and Foie Gras

Roast Duck Breast and Confit Leg with Beets and Cream of Beets

Sea Bass with Zucchini, Grape Tomatoes and White Beans

Exotic Fruits with Goat Cheese and Pineapple Sorbet

Chocolate Cake and Mousse

The food was delicious and beautifully plated and in my opinion worthy of its Michelin star. We pushed ourselves away from the table and headed out to explore the village.

Ansouis Mairie (Town Hall)

Cobblestone street through archway leads to the Ansouis Castle

Rue en calade, translated essentially as a cobblestone street

The Community Council of Ansouis held its meetings in the House of the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit seen below starting in 1540. After the Brotherhood was dissolved, the house became community property and was transformed into the Town Hall and village oven.

Belfry with iron campanile

An iron campanile was added to the top of the belfry which houses the clock in the late 16th century or early 17th century. The Town Hall was replaced by the former Town Hall sometime between 1793 and 1836. The current Town Hall is located up the street from La Closerie Restaurant.

Belfry with iron campanile

On the way to the Ansouis castle, you will pass beautifully restored houses, the oldest of which date from the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Restored Ansouis house with mullioned (divided) windows

The opulent Saint Martin Church seen below, is built into the outer wall of the Château. It houses the remains of Ansouis's two saints, Delphine and Elzéar.

Interior of 12th century Saint Martin's Church

Saint Martin Church Square and entrance to Saint Martin Church

The Ansouis castle seen below has been restored and is open to the public. A beautiful staircase leads to ornate rooms with lovely furniture and tapestries. Tours are offered every afternoon except Tuesday. Tours take approximately one hour.

The castle's history goes back to the 10th century, when a military fortress was built on a high spot overlooking the Aigues Valley. There was a dungeon surrounded by a few isolated buildings. This fort belonged to the powerful families of the times - the Forcalquier family, then the Counts of Provence and as of the 1200's, the Sabran family.

The Wars of Religion ended in the late 1500's, and castle-forts began to be transformed into more gracious homes. In the 17th century, the Ansouis castle was renvoated, gardens and terraces were added, and new owners took over.

Entrance to the Ansouis Castle. Note the coat of arms of the House of Sabran over the door.

Ansouis Castle Room

Ansouis Castle Room

Ansouis Castle Kitchen

Ansouis Castle Room
View of the Belfry from the Ansouis Castle

Saint in Niche in Ansouis Castle Garden

Another View from the Ansouis Castle

The Jardin Suspendu, or Hanging Garden, seen below includes trimmed box hedges, rose bushes, orange trees, statues and wonderful views.

The Hanging Garden

The lion was the symbol of the Sabran family

Ansouis Castle Garden

Statue in the Ansouis Castle Garden

Corner turret at the top of the Ansouis castle

The Belfry and Panoramic View from the Ansouis Castle

Ansouis Cafe

You Drive Through this Stone Arch to Enter the Village

Ansouis War Memorial

Every day in Provence is a good day. This was a great day; a visit to a beautiful old village, a delicious lunch in a Michelin one star restaurant and a tour of the well restored Ansouis Castle.

La Closerie Restaurant
Boulevard des Platanes
84240 Ansouis
Tel: 04 90 09 90 54


  1. It must be so wonderful to live in Provence for part of the year and be able to take your time exploring all the villages. I was just in Provence in June and visited Ansouis. It truly is a beautiful village. Thanks again for such a wonderful blog that helps us escape to Provence if only for a moment.

    1. We are blessed to have the chance to live part of the year in Provence. We never take that blessing for granted. Thanks so much for the very nice feedback about my blog. It is very much appreciated. Happy New Year!

  2. Michel, can you believe that I have still not made it to Ansouis? After this lovely post now I really have to go!

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year...

    1. Thanks so much Heather. I hope you enjoyed the holidays. We wish you a very Happy New Year and hope all of your dreams come true this year. Maybe we will finally get the chance to meet up.

  3. It looks lovely and a part of France I really need to discover more of. The food looked superb - what a lucky town to have a find like that! I'd love to visit the castle one day. Thank you for this post, I was directed here from Perfectly Provence.

  4. Thanks so much for coming to check out my blog. Ansouis is a "Plus Beaux Villages de France" and definitely worth a visit. Combine that with the fact there is an excellent restaurant makes the journey well worth while. Hope you will be a frequent visitor.