Subject: South of France 5
On to Le Bistro du Paradou (Ave. de la Vallée-de-Baux, in Le Paradou, 6k s. of Les Baux, phone 04 90 54 32 700) , for our lunch appointment. As we neared the door, potential customers were being turned away and politely advised to make reservations, an absolute necessity at this popular spot, for another day. We were quickly seated by a cheery and busy waiter, and began enjoying a superb meal in this bistro that food writer extraordinaire Patricia Wells has said she loves so much that she'd choose it for her last meal on earth. Well, we hope that this is not it, because here she is, accompanied by her cooking class. We enjoyed a few words with her (had met previously in DC) after dinner. All guests are served the same meal, and the set price of 170 FF includes wine and coffee. We began with a crudite selection, accompanied by anchoide, an olive oil and anchovy paste. Then tender lamb, a stuffed baby artichoke - even the stem is fork-tender, and crisp sauteed potatoes. Followed by a basket of cheese to choose from -several types of chevre, a blue, and more. We had seen a chocolate tart among the dessert selections, and asked for that, and a strawberry, which we planned to share (so both of us chocoholics could have some). Our waiter (the staff is SO pleasant here - fame has not spoiled this wonderful place!) said that there was no more - but when he served us our fruit tarts, he brought the last small sliver of chocolate> for us to share as well. Thursday - Taking it slow and easy this morning. After talking with Angel, our host, we head for Bonnieux, and explore an antique/brocante store before stopping at Henri Tomas' well-known bakery for his famed Gallette Provencal. He's as charming as has been written by Peter Mayle, Patricia Wells, and the Longs in their wonderful book Markets of Provence. Fame hasn't spoiled him either. Just hearing his cheery Merci, ma belle as I paid for our treats made me smile. We swerved down the hairpin turns of the D943 toward Lourmarin and pulled off to park in a little clearing. From there we walked along the Aigue Brun stream, passing a unique 17th century sunburst bridge . This walk and other wonderful drives and walks are detailed in Provence Byways Concise Guides to the Luberon. I believe I posted the website previously. Please ask if you need more details. Then spent some time in Lourmarin, one of the official plus belle villages du France- every turn in the cobbled lanes brings a photo op into view - bright pastel shutters, lush flowering windowboxes. quaint nooks and crannies. Easy walking too - not on a hill like Bonnieux. Ate lunch by a wonderful mossy fountain beside the chateau. Back to La Bouquiere to relax by the pool.