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Ira and others: Do you book restaurants well in advance in Provence, Dordogne, Languedoc?

Ira and others: Do you book restaurants well in advance in Provence, Dordogne, Languedoc?

Jan 16th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Ira and others: Do you book restaurants well in advance in Provence, Dordogne, Languedoc?

When we went to Paris we booked certain restaurants months ahead. Because we had, we felt we received great service and fantastic tables at Jules Verne, Tour d'Argent, Truffiere. This spring we are staying in St Remy and Domme with a four day StuDudley trip in between. Should we book restaurants ahead? are there any "don't miss restaurants" you would recommend. (Love your culinary adventures, Ira)
robjame is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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Here in Provence, in early spring, you won't need to book months ahead. A week or two in advance is more than sufficient at almost all the more well known ones.

Here is a short list of some in the area.

St. Remy

Jardin de Frédéric
Small, cozy restaurant with a small outdoor terrace. Good seafood dishes. Friendly owner and service is good.
Closed Sunday and Monday lunch
Dress - Casual
8, boulevard Gambetta Tel: 04 90 92 27 76
Menus offered at 25 and 28 euro (dinner) 16 euro (lunch)

La Serre
Charming restaurant in an old greenhouse in the village - chef is the grandson of Gaston Lenotre. Very good, inventive food, reasonably priced.
Dress - casual
8, rue Commune Tel: 04 90 92 37 21

La Source
Charming, small restaurant fairly off the tourist path. Very good food, beautiful shaded terrace overlooking a garden for summer dining. Closed Wednesday
Totally non-smoking
13, avenue Liberation Tel: 04 90 92 44 71
Lunch menu around 21 euro Dinner menus 30/40 euro

Outside of St.Remy, on the D5 just outside of Graveson:

Moulin d'Aure

Also a B&B, the restaurant is wonderful. The owners are Italian, so many of the dishes are Italian inspired. Reasonably priced, with a decent wine list that includes some good Italian choices.

Outside of St. Remy in the direction of Noves:
La Maison (Domaine de Bournissac)
Restaurant and country inn (about two years old) - in a lovely old mas. Excellent cuisine. Terrace shaded by a fig tree. A bit on the expensive side.
Closed Monday and Tuesday noon
tel: 04 90 90 25 25
Menu at around 40 euro

Les Baux de Provence

* Riboto de Taven
In the Val d'Enfer, just below the village of Les Baux. An excellent Michelin one star restaurant for thirty-five years, they've turned in their star and are no longer serving a varied menu. They've become a country inn and serve a dinner with a set menu . Call in advance to see what they're serving - and if they have room. The menu changes with the seasons, but always includes regional dishes. Beautiful garden and terrace with a view of the village of Les Baux. Dining on the terrace in the summer months, otherwise indoors in what was once the bergerie (sheepfold).
Dress - Dressy casual, although no ties required for men.
Tel: 04 90 54 34 23
Menu is usually around 45 euro


La Vallée ( Chez Karine )
This restaurant was begun a couple of years ago by Jean-Louis' daughter Karine (Jean Louis of Bistrot du Paradou) and her sister. Her sister has gone on to other things, but Karine, along with the former chef at Cuisine au Planet in Fontvieille are doing good things here. One of their most successful menus has been based on the artichoke.... extremely popular.

15, avenue de la Vallée des Baux Tel: (33) 490 54 54 00
[email protected] website: www.la-vallee.net

* Bistrot La Petite France
Former Michelin one star restaurant, just outside Maussane near Le Paradou in a renovated farmhouse. They "turned in" their star and changed the style of the restaurant to a less formal bistro. Excellent food, good service. One of the best wine lists in France (the chef's father is the owner of the largest wine distributor in the south of France)
Personal favorites are the raviolis with green olives, sage and ricotta and the breast of duck.
Casual. Reservations recommended Closed Wednesday and Thursday
55, avenue de la Vallee des Baux Tel: 04 90 54 41 91
Menu - 25 euro


** Bistrot d'Eygalières "Chez Bru"
Michelin two star. Charming restaurant in the center of this tiny village. Owners/chef are Belgian, trained at the Baumanière in the 'good old days'. Inventive cuisine, fairly good wine list. In the summer, tables are set outside on the sidewalk for outdoor dining. They also have four rooms.... 130 to 160 euro per night
Reservations recommended in season and on weekends.
rue Republique Tel: 04 90 90 60 34
Lunch menu 45 euro Dinner menus 64/74 euro

Le Petit Bru
The baby bistro to the Bistrot d'Eygalieres. More casual - good food.
Prix fixe menu around 26 euro which offers a choice of entrée and main course, cheese and dessert.
House wine only.
Tel: 04 90 95 98 89

Sous les Micocouliers
Situated off the main road, this restaurant always has an interesting daily menu.
Lovely large terrace under the trees, it's great in the summer months.
Closed Tuesday all day and Wednesday at lunchtime.
Tel: 04 90 95 94 53


* Auberge de Noves
Michelin One Star restaurant. Beautiful setting on a hill in a wooded park. Chef Lalleman creates some delicious dishes.
Dressy Casual
Reservations recommended in season and on weekends.
rte. Châteaurenard Tel: 04 90 24 28 28


* Le Clos de la Violette
Michelin Two Star restaurant. Chef Banzo (yes that's really his name) does great things with food. The service is excellent and in good weather you can dine in the garden. Just steps from the Villa Gallici hotel.
Dress - Dressy Casual
10, avenue Violette Tel: 04 42 23 30 71
email: [email protected]

Not far from the fountain on the Cours Mirabeau. Lovely setting, very good food - regional.
Dress - Casual
22, rue Victor Leydet Tel: 04 42 27 76 16
email: [email protected] www.aixquis.com


Le Grand Large

Just off the port, with a large terrace overlooking the beach and the sea. Excellent seafood during the season. In summer bouillabaisse is often on the menu (without having to request it in advance) Off season, call the evening before if you would like this specialty. The fried calamari is excellent, as is the fresh fish.
Tel: 04 42 01 81 00


La Petite Pêche
Small restaurant - close tables. Very good seafood. A nice place for lunch.
13, rue Saint-Etienne Tel: 04 90 86 02 46

Christian Etienne
A Michelin starred restaurant in a 14thC building touching the Palais des Papes. Regional, excellent cooking. There is an outdoor terrace.
10, rue de Mons Tel: 04 90 86 16 50


* Prieuré
A One Star Michelin restaurant located in the hotel by the same name... the food is delicious and in fine weather you can sit outside on the terrace.
Dress - dressy casual
7, place Chapitre Tel: 04 90 15 90 15

Salon de Provence

l'Eau a la Bouche
This combination restaurant and fish shop guarantees the freshest of seafood. They have an excellent chef and the food is excellent.
Closed Sunday evening and Monday all day
Place Morgan tel: 04 90 56 41 93


Newly opened second restaurant of l'Eau a la Bouche... sort of like a baby bistro.
Nice for lunch.
1 Place Crousillat Tel: 04 90 44 70 82


Les Fontaines
Charming small restaurant in the center of town. Tiny indoor patio area among the ruined walls. Good eclectic mix of food... sometimes a Moroccan tahjine, sometimes provençal.
6, rue Entre les Tours Tel: 04 66 22 41 20

PBProvence is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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The only restaurant in the entire Dordogne area that you might need to book in advance is Le Centenaire in Les Eyzies. In spring, I doubt you'd even need to do that. A day or two ahead of time for the most popular restaurants might be advisable, but probably not necessary.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 16th, 2006, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,667
For spring, a day in advance is fine. Provence probabaly gets the most crowds that time of year, so if you have your heart set on a specific one, book several days in advance.

When we travel, we always book "arrival night" (usually a Saturday) in advacnce from the US. Sometimes for Sunday also, since many restaurants are closed on Sunday (and Monday). On all else, we book just a day or two ahead.

We followed this plan in the St Remy area in first week in July in '99 (booking only 1 day in advance), and still had no problems for a Michelin 1 star (Riboto de Taven), and other popular places. In the Languedoc, you probably don't need to book at all - especially if you stay at the hotel associated with the restaurant. Once we drove through the Languedoc in June not knowing where our destination was each night, and we had no problems at all (we try to get to the destination by 4).

We dine out in France 30-40 times a year.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 16th, 2006, 03:14 PM
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In the Dordogne I've booked a week in advance, maybe two for a two star restaurant, and I think that I detected surprise on the other end of the line. Partly it depends on the day fo the week. For lunch on a Satruday market day,make sure you book in advance.
Michael is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 05:13 PM
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Booking for Sunday lunch is also a good idea, as that's when many French families go out.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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PB provence, awesome input.
richardsonsnm is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 06:47 PM
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PB - thank you for the great restaurant suggestions. Fantastic help.
StCirq - Is Le Centenaire a restaurant that you would recommend?
Stu - Any recommendations?
robjame is offline  
Jan 17th, 2006, 01:29 AM
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Here is a list of one star restaurants that we provide for our guests. I have never had a problem booking a day or two in advance.

· Le Pont de L'Ouysse 05 65 37 87 04. In Lacave, just east of Souillac, leaving the Dordogne on the way to Rocamadour. It is in a 19th century house, with a very pretty dining room, shaded terrace on the edge of the Ouysse River.

· Le Gindreau 05 65 36 22 27 St Medard-Catus. (west of Cahors) further away, but well worth the drive if you are a real food lover. a converted schoolhouse with a great terrace overlooking the valley. Inventive cooking, beautiful surroundings, attentive service, and an exceptional sommelier (wine steward) who looks like Peter Ustinov!

· Restaurant l’Imaginaire. 05 53 51 37 27 Terrasson, north of Sarlat – next to Jardin de l’Imaginaire. Again, great food, great service. Interesting vaulted dining room.

· Le Vieux Logis 05 53 22 80 06 Tremolat (Between Sarlat and Bergerac) Probably the prettiest restaurant in the area – some are more elegant, but this is pretty in the best sense of the word. Recently awarded a star, although the food has been exceptionally good for several years. Last summer they had a 30-euro tasting menu that was wonderful – the first time I had had crème brulee de foie gras.

The only two star restaurant in the area is the Centenaire, in Les Eyzies, (05 53 06 68 68) which gets great reviews, but also lots of tourists. We don’t feel that the difference in quality is worth the extra cost – but lots of people do.

Similarly, we don’t particularly enjoy the Esplanade in Domme. Hard to say what’s wrong, (although having to get up and go across the room one day to retrieve our wine bottle when the staff had all disappeared didn’t help) but we never go away with the same good feeling that we do with the others, particularly Le Gindreau, or L’Imaginaire, where the sommelier remembered the kind of wine we like on the second visit!
Carlux is offline  
Jan 17th, 2006, 04:10 AM
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Hi rob,

If you have a restaurant that you really, really want to go to on a particular date, make reservations before you leave home.

Some of them are very small.

If you will be in Conques, I highly recommend the Moulin de Cambelong.

ira is online now  
Jan 17th, 2006, 06:37 AM
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Hi, robjame:

I don't think the Centenaire is worth the expense, considering the whole area is one of gastronomic excellence, but if you do go, I'd suggest going for lunch when the prices are lower.

I do love L'Esplanade in Domme. Sitting on that terrace overlooking the valley alone is a magical experience, and I've always been very happy with the food and service.

Other restaurants I enjoy in the area include:

La Table du Terroir in La Chapelle-Aubareil

Le Relais des Cinq Châteauax in Vitrac

Le Vélo Rouge in Le Bugue

Restaurant La Bastide in Monpazier

Le Jardin d'Epicure outside St-Cyprien on the road to Beynac

La Plume d'Oie in La Roque-Gageac

La Belle Etoile in La Roque-Gageac

Auberge de la Truffe in Sorges

La Grange du Mas in Siorac

Le Chai in Limeuil (for a nice, if slow, lunch by the river)

I'll have to revisit the Vieux Logis in Trémolat. Last time I was there was a few years ago and the dning room was so overloaded with elderly Scots with their terriers in baskets I found it rather off-putting.

StCirq is online now  
Jan 17th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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>>>Stu - Any recommendations?<<

Yep - My Dordogne itinerary has a very detailed description of about 15 restaurants that we liked. It has a "top six" list, a "other greats" list, and a "not recommended" small group It's way too long to post here. E-mail me at [email protected] if you want the Dordogne itinerary.

My recommended Languedoc restaurants are on my 35 page Languedoc itinerary. the restaurants are also on Peter's Languedoc page

Here is a description of one of the "top 6" restaurants in the Dordogne. We dined here twice - once with Ira (see his trip report), and Lois.

La Meynardie near Salignac-Eyvigues 05 53 28 85 98
Sept ‘05
This restaurant is in a farmhouse way out in the country, down a small road, in a forest. The restaurant is definitely off the beaten path, although there are signs all along the way to make sure you don’t get lost and/or simply give up on ever finding it because it’s in such an unlikely location. We took winding roads taking us through small, fairly non-descript, but typical French towns and continued farther and farther into the countryside. Then voila, there is was, isolated in a fairly wooded setting. We really felt like we’d done the ‘over the meadow and through the woods’ in getting there. The setting couldn’t be more “idealistic” for someone seeking a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. The “farmhouse” consisted of several buildings – one being the restaurant and outdoor dining terrace. The restaurant had a lovely traditional interior, but, as it continues to ber very warm, dinner was served outside. It was a very pleasant setting – a dense arbor of grapevines sheltering a patio surrounded by bright geraniums & a tidy gravel courtyard with wonderful old stone outbuildings.
We started with a plate of quail eggs & diced tomatoes, black sausage, & foie gras on toast. The Amuse Bouche was a cold green vegetable soup. We speculated that spinach was among the greens in the soup.
Stu had the menu a 50E
-Risotto au ecrevisse, topped with a truffle slice. Three large ecrevisse were tented on top of the risotto –they had been shelled already (tho served with the shells in place), so no hand-to-hand combat (or a bib) was required to enjoy the course
-Lotte served with nettle butter, topped with a sauteed wild (meaty) mushroom and diced tomatoes, also with a slice of truffle.
-Pigeoneau served with a mushroom duxelle & potato gallette
-An assortment of 3 local cheeses with perfectly dressed greens with a “sweet” walnut vinaigrette
-Symphonie of Desserts – an amazing course with an equally amazing presentation – 7 individual items in all – on a large white square plate were:
-a soufflé Grand Marnier – a hollowed egg shell in an egg cup
-crème brulee – in a very small crème brulee cup
-Ille Flotante in a wonderfully shaped small glass
-Sorbet with a croustillant perched on top.
-Fruit “cocktail” with liqueur in another imaginatively shaped glass
-Chocolate fondant praline
-a chewy brownie-type square

I had the 31E menu, which was equally remarkable
-Foie Gras de canard prepared 2 ways
-Served layered with artichoke heart. I had presumed the foie would simply be set atop a heart, Nooo – far more sophisticated - it was if the choke heart had been pressed onto a small mold, then layered with a sweet apple slice, the layered with the luscious foie gras
-the second foie gras was served more classic “en terrine” – delicious – but here too the presentation was art: on a large frosted rectangular plate there was a grilled halved cherry tomato on a dollop of orange marmalade, apple slices with fig compote, the “en gelee’ wrapped in a slice of smoked magret, coarsely ground walnuts, a slice of truffle, fleur de sel, and walnut bread toasts
-Magret de Canard stuffed with cepes en croute. This was totally different from any magret I’ve ever had, in that it was not sliced thinly for serving, but was rather a half-breast with the mushroom duxelle in the center & then all wrapped in pastry. It was served with heavenly potatoes dauphinois, sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, and a deep reduction sauce!!!
-Astonishingly, I actually decided to decline the cabecou/salad cheese course
-Two slices of perhaps the best Nougat Glacee I’ve ever had – with crunchy, sugary bits of walnut contrasting with the smooth rice ice cream.

We dined here a second time with four internet friends

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is online now  
Jan 17th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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La Meynardie is one of Stu's great finds.

ira is online now  
Jan 17th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Ira - Thanks for the recommendation. Looks like Conques is going to be a little outside our visiting area this trip. However, we are going to use this visit to scout for a possible gite site for the fall.
Carlux and StCirq - Thank you for the restaurant tips. You people are fantastic with your help and suggestions.
robjame is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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You might want to look at my pictures which include photos of three different menus at three different venues, ranging from a hunter's feast in a hay barn to dinner in Le Centenaire:


Le Centenaire was superior to any other meal we had in the Dordogne, and it is not that expensive for a two star restaurant.
Michael is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 11:04 AM
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Those of you who like La Meynardie, which is certainly wonderful - good food, lovely setting, great farmhouse, nice people - should know that the owners have just opened a restaurant in Sarlat called Bistro de l'Octroi. 05 53 30 83 40 (The Octroi was formerly a tax paid on entering town, and the restaurant is on the site of the northern gate for collecting this tax.) The two rooms, casual downstairs, a little fancier upstairs, are not as elegant as at La Meynardie, since it is a bistro, but are nicely laid out and furnished, there is a small courtyard outside for the summer, and only a 5 minute walk from the main square.
They currently start with a 17-euro menu with interesting choices, and offer several more expensive menus. I had a lovely smoky lentil soup, boudin parmentier (Black sausage topped with mashed potato), chocolat fondant. Open every day for lunch and dinner, and lots of choices that aren’t duck, a rarity in Sarlat. A welcome addition to a town that unfortunately has too many restaurants catering to what they think tourists want – which isn’t necessarily confit de canard every night!

M. et Mme Lasserre haven’t advertised at all, but their reputation is such that it’s already doing well. I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Sarlat.
Carlux is offline  

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