Saturday, December 8, 2018

Villa Saint-Antoine, Violès

As soon as we arrive in Sablet, we visit Le Pain Médiéval Boulangerie manned by Jeannine and Julien, then proceed to Votre Marché owned by Mimi and Alain, and Café des Sports owned by Bruno Bordeaux, in hopes our friends will be there so we can "faire la bise" and say "bonjour" and quickly catch up. On our most recent visit, several asked if we had heard about a new restaurant called "Villa Saint-Antoine?"

I responded no, and asked where it was located? I was intrigued that it's located nearby in Violès, a small village we drive through on our way to and from Avignon, about 4 miles from Sablet. They also informed us the restaurant is expensive, so they had not dined there but we should try it out and let them know how it is.

As faithful readers of the blog know, we gravitate toward Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants, all restaurants which are Michelin inspector's favorites for very good value, offering three-course menus for 33 Euros or less outside of Paris. In Paris, the cutoff is 37 Euros. So although the restaurant was described as too expensive for locals, we decided to take one for the team and go try it out.

So one Friday, we headed to Villa Saint-Antoine, which we discovered is adjacent to Lavau winery on the Route de Cairanne, just outside Violès. You enter into Lavau to get to the restaurant, so it seems they are connected which they are not.

Entrance to Villa Saint-Antoine, Violes

After you enter through the entryway with tall columns on each side, you are in a beautifully landscaped garden like space that is optimally planned to minimize the impact on the environment.

View from the terrace dining area to the pool and cabanas

Villa Saint-Antoine was opened in July 2018 and is both a restaurant and a 4-room chambre d'hôtes (bed and breakfast) including pool, cabanas, and children's playground. Villa Saint-Antoine has a garden in Montmoiron which supplies fruits and vegetables for the kitchen.

Children's Playground

On that first visit to Villa Saint-Antoine, we were seated on the terrace under large parasols which provide shade for diners but also capture rain and put it into the ground through a tube in the center pole to water the garden areas. We were entertained during our first visit by the Patrouille de France, the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force that I told you about here.

Dining al fresco

The restaurant sure looked like an expensive place so we were pleasantly pleased to see the price for a three-course lunch was 26 Euros. I said our first visit because we returned again for lunch with cousins Jean-Marc and Christine on a Saturday and for dinner where we were seated in the dining room to celebrate a birthday with friends. The pictures which follow are from our three visits.

Black and green olives and black olive tapenade amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

Eggplant confit with frisee and cherry tomato salad with anchovy vinaigrette

Soft fresh chèvre with julienne of pumpkin and accompanying pitcher of puree of pumpkin and ginger

Soft fresh chèvre with the puree of pumpkin and fresh ginger and julienne of pumpkin

Mushrooms and poached egg

Fillet of Fletan (Halibut) with turnips, broccoli puree and jus de boeuf

I was impressed with the servers attention to details. The server heard me say something to Shirley about vegetarian and non-meat options (in English), and when a runner delivered our main courses to the table, the above Fillet of Fletan (Halibut), Shirley's had a different sauce than mine. He offered that the server heard me say I was happy about the vegetarian and non-meat options, and the Fletan is sauced with beef "juice" so the chef substituted a vegetarian sauce for your wife.

Carrots and Beef in wine sauce

Side dish of vegetables which accompanied main courses

Fletan (Halibut) with crushed potatoes, arugula with Asian vinaigrette with vegetables

Fig tart with vanilla ice cream

St. Honoré cake

Carpaccio of pineapple and mango with lime-zest served with pineapple basil sorbet

The meals ended with a plate of mignardises, little bite-sized desserts served in some French restaurants at the end of the meal with coffee.


The food was delicious and service warm and professional. The servers knew our birthday guests and by the end of our third meal, we were known there too. I highly recommend you dine here if you happen to be spending time in or around Sablet. I am confident that you will have a wonderful time.

The days of operation are somewhat in flux as they figure out what is optimal in terms of customer demand. They said they are thinking about offering Sunday brunch and daily petit dejeuner (breakfast) for the general public and adding a second price option for dinner meals. So stay tuned.

Villa Saint-Antoine
533 Route de Cairanne
84150 Violès
Tel: +33490641756

Villa Saint-Antoine is one of a number of excellent restaurants near us in Provence. If you are considering a visit to France in 2019, and living the life of a local for a short period of time, we would be honored if you would consider our home. You can find everything you need to know at Please contact us for further information at We look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Le 6 à Table Restaurant, Caromb

As wife Shirley tells everybody, "Michel is a list person". And yes, when it comes to restaurants and most anything that is related to food or wine, I'm usually drawn to places which are on a list of "best" in the area. That is why we headed to Caromb to meet friends one evening a few months ago to dine at Le 6 à Table Restaurant, a new addition to the Bib Gourmand restaurants in the Michelin Guide.

Caromb is a small village located about 20 kms from Sablet between Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail. Caromb is memorable for me as the location of a restaurant called Le Four à Chaux where we and our Bistro des Copains team who were lodged in nearby Mormoiron dined the first night of a memorable trip to Provence back in January 2007.

Entrance to Caromb

There are quite a few fountains in Caromb, many from the 18th and 19th centuries. The most well known is the Fountain du Portail du Rieu, on the main road in the village in front of the Medieval entry, and popular with the many cyclists who pedal by on their way to or from Mont Ventoux.

Center of Caromb

Le 6 à Table is located in the center of Caromb across from the church. It is owned by chef Pascal Poulain and his wife Claire. The name comes from its location at 6 Place Nationale. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the first place we ever dined in Provence was called Le Four à Chaux. In an interesting coincidence, the restaurant where the chef first cooked was Le Four à Chaux which at the time was owned by his father.

Le 6 à Table Restaurant

We arrived with friends Robert and Barbara of Vaison-la-Romaine culinary school Cuisine de Provence and shown to our table in the dining room. After catching up, we perused the wine list and were delighted to find a wine from Corinna Faravel's Domaine Martinelle on the list. In another bit of coincidence, wine from Martinelle appeared on Bistro Des Copains' wine list from time to time.

Domaine Martinelle Beaumes De Venise

After we ordered wine, the chef sent out his amuse bouche for the evening, a little bite of Chèvre from Le Barroux with cherry tomato. An amuse bouche of some type, sometimes as simple as olives or tapenade almost always accompanies a meal in a French restaurant. The term literally means "mouth amuser" and serves to prepare guests for the meal and/or offer a preview of the chef's cooking style. I just posted on Facebook about my family's tie to Le Barroux. You might want to check it out.

Amuse Bouche of Chèvre from Le Barroux with cherry tomato

What follows are photographs of a starter and main course and the desserts.

Starter of Provence asparagus with Salmon eggs and Sabayon sauce

Shirley was happy to see a Spelt risotto accompanied the fillet of fish. Until we started spending time in Sablet, we had never encountered Spelt, an ancient grain cultivated on the plateau of Sault (1 hour from Sablet) and harvested in August. It was plentiful in the Roman era, it was only rediscovered by the general public about thirty years ago. You find it frequently on restaurant menus around Sablet. It has a sweet, nutty chewiness that we love.

Fillet of wild Barbue (species of fish in the Turbot family) with Spelt risotto

Molten chocolate cake with strawberry sorbet

Mille Feuille with strawberries and coconut ice cream

We had a wonderful time at Le 6 à Table, a convivial evening with dear friends, excellent wine and delicious and beautifully presented food. I highly recommend you plan to dine here if you happen to be spending time in or around Sablet. You won't regret it.

Le 6 à Table
6 Place Nationale
84330 Caromb
Tel: +33 4 90 62 37 91

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Roussillon, the Most Colorful Village in Provence

We rarely go to Sablet without taking a day trip to Roussillon, a village in the Luberon about 35 miles southeast of Sablet. We never tire of seeing this colorful village, tinted by 17 different colors of ocher that used to be mined here; this makes Roussillon unique compared to other villages in the area.

The Luberon is a combination of 3 mountain ranges that stretch 35 miles from Cavaillon in the west to Manosque in the east and from the town of Apt south to the Durance River. Much of the area including Roussillon is protected in the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon.

Roussillon lies in the northern part of the Luberon and is classified as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (one of the most beautiful villages of France). Roussillon sits above one of the world's largest ocher deposits where 17 shades of ocher--violet, blood red, orange, yellow, and everything in between were once mined.


The Librairie (bookstore) in La Maison Tacchella to the left and the Hotel de Ville (town hall) to the right in Town Hall Square, the main hub of activity along with the place du Pasquier on Thursday mornings when there's a weekly market and traffic gets even more congested than usual.

View of Town Hall Square

As you stroll around the village, make sure you look for the 169 year old grape vine in front of Restaurant la Treille.

169 year old grape vine

The clock and 19th century belfry with a campanile overlooking the main village square. The archway at the bottom of the belfry was the ancient entrance into the fortified area called the Castrum

Roussillon clock and belfry

Roussillon has been inhabited since Neolithic time, then later by the Romans who also left their traces. The village is also well known for being home to Samuel Beckett during Second World War.

Saint Michel Church

Colorful Roussillon House

Saint Michel Church whose origins go back to the 11th century, originally faced the castle, inside the fortified walls. The church has undergone countless renovations over time, necessitated in part by its location by the cliff.

Saint Michel Church

The ocher facades of the houses in Roussillon are beautiful - the colors vary from light yellow to dark red, accented by brightly painted shutters and doors. Many date from the 17th and 18th century.

View over village to the cemetery and ocher cliffs

Just a few minutes walk from the village is the trailhead for the Sentier des Ocres (Ocher trail). Ocher is a natural pigment in the soil which form the cliffs around Roussillon. Iron oxides color the sands into shades ranging from yellow to violet. The mineral landscape shows the effects of erosion and mining work done by man.

Two different trails, one short, one long, take you through the ocher lands on a 30-minute or 60-minute walk. You can stay as long as you like. Information signs along the way describe the geology, flora and history of the ocher deposits in the Luberon. The trails takes you past multi-colored ocher formations set against a backdrop of pine trees.

Ocher Cliff

Flowering bush spotted in Roussillon

Shirley with friends, Fred and Linda

Color abounds in Roussillon

As you can imagine, the beauty of Roussillon draws hordes of artists and visitors during tourist season. It is the most visited village in the Luberon after Gordes, a few miles to the west. Despite this, we have never had any problem finding parking close to the village.

View of bell tower from parking lot

We think it's best to visit in the morning when the first sunshine of the day strikes the village, to see the glowing colors at their most stunning. Roussillon is fairly small so it doesn't take very long to explore. So combine a visit to Roussillon with a visit to Gordes or other hill towns such as Lacoste, Menerbes or Lourmarin in the Luberon.

If you are considering a visit to France in 2019, and living the life of a local for a short period of time, we would be honored if you would consider our home. You can find everything you need to know at We still have availability. Please contact us for further information at We look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Return to the film locations for "A Good Year" movie starring Rusell Crowe and Marion Cotillard

I told you in a previous post that "A Good Year" starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard is my favorite American/British-made movie set in the South of France. The movie is directed by Ridley Scott who himself lives in the Luberon and is based on a Peter Mayle novel.

The movie tells the story of Max (Russell Crowe) who inherits a rundown house and vineyard in Provence from his Uncle Henry played by Albert Finney who Max visited during summers as a boy. Rather than being excited about his good fortune, Max wants to quickly sell the property and return to his life in London where he is a ruthless securities trader and loner.

Instead, things get a little complicated and he stays around and soon falls head-over-heels for a beautiful café owner named Fanny Chenal played by the very pretty, perfectly French, Marion Cotillard. I know it didn't win any Oscar awards but I love romantic stories and the movie is set in one of our favorite parts of Provence.

A few months back, our Windsor neighbors Fred and Linda paid us a visit in Sablet. Like us, they are fans of the movie, so one of our day trips was a tour of the locations where "A Good Year" was filmed during 9 weeks in the fall of 2005 in the Luberon region of Provence. In this post, I will share some of the sights we saw that day.

The first scene in Provence after Max learns Uncle Max passed away is a plane flying over Gordes on its way to the Marseille Provence airport. Gordes is a beautiful hilltop village, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France...which means "Most beautiful villages of France", seen below.

Early scene in movie shows this view of Gordes as Max's plane passes overhead on the way to Marseille Airport

Château la Canorgue, the location used for the house and vineyard that Max inherits is really a working winery owned by Jean-Pierre Margan. The Chateau is about 1 mile outside of Bonnieux on the road to the Pont Julien. Château la Canorgue is a family-owned wine estate that thanks to the hard work and dedication of successive generations has remained in the family for more than 200 years.

In the 1970s, Jean-Pierre Margan, a pioneer in organic farming started tending the vineyard and producing wines. He passed on his passion and experience to his daughter, Nathalie, who is the 5th generation of winegrowers. If you visit the winery, you can taste their wine, including a bottle of "Le Coin Perdu" which has a very significant part in the movie.

Entrance to Château la Canorgue

The movie was filmed inside the house, and outside in the garden and vineyards. As you stand by the vineyards and look up at the house, it looks just like it did in the film warm, inviting, and "aged to a soft patina".

The house at Château la Canorgue

For the movie, Château la Canorgue's name was changed to Château la Siroque. Several scenes in the movie were filmed in front of the house, including a final scene with Max and Fanny on the terrace.

Pool at Château la Canorgue and view toward current tasting room

Back in Gordes for his appointment with the Notaire, Max circles this roundabout several times with a war memorial in the center as he tries to figure out which direction to take. The best thing about roundabouts in Provence is that many are beautifully designed or some type of art form and reflect something important about the town or village where they are located.

Roundabout in center of Gordes which Max circles several times in his little yellow car before meeting the Notaire

La Renaissance Restaurant in the heart of Gordes is the place where scenes of Fanny's bistro were filmed in the 'A Good Year' movie.

Fanny's bistro was filmed at Hotel le Renaissance in Gordes

It is hard to pass the restaurant and fountain on Place du Château in Gordes without thinking about Max and Fanny and the movie scenes shot in this location.

Fountain in front of Fanny's café where Max waited for Fanny to ask her out on a date

Uncle Henry's longtime winemaker in the movie is Francis Duflot (Didier Bourbon)and his wife is Ludivine (Isabelle Candelier) who cared for the place when Max was a boy. One night Max is invited to dinner at their home.

Château Les Eydins which was the location for Francis Duflot's home

Cucuron is where Max and Fanny have their first date, watching a black and white movie in the square by the basin under the plane trees. Max brings a bottle of "Le Coin Perdu" wine.

Place de l'Étang in Cucuron

Bonnieux is the village seen in this panoramic shot from the Chateau. There is a very similar shot in the movie.

Bonnieux as seen from Chateau la Canorgue

Cafe de France in Lacoste is where Max finds Christie to return her book and give her a letter he forged from Uncle Henry acknowledging that Christie is his child and asked Max to please share La Siroque with her.

Café de France terrace

The bus stop where Max finds Christie was shot in front of Café de France in Lacoste.

Café de France in Lacoste

We were saddened by the passing of Peter Mayle a few months back. My love of Provence truly began with reading "A Year in Provence," a 1989 best-selling memoir by Peter Mayle about his first year in Provence, and the local events and customs.