Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Michelin Starred Restaurant Experience

Our first experience of eating in a Michelin starred restaurant in France, Christian Etienne  in Avignon.
The restaurant is overlooking the courtyard outside the Palais des Pape.

I chose the Tomato menu starting with Heirloom Noire de Crimée tomato cappuccino with garlic 

We enjoyed one of the best tables in the house!

King crab legs rolled in romaine lettuce leaves, preserved Roma tomato slices, fresh mint and lemon caviar, pearl barley salad 

Tomato tartare of red Cœur de bœuf and orange Ananas heirlooms, summer salad
with olive oil

Puff pastry with Provençal snails, chopped Roma tomatoes sprinkled 
                                                                     with parsley and garlic

Pan-roasted slice of monkfish with  pipérade and parsley croutons, Mediterranean fish stew 

Eggplant cannelloni with lamb stuffing, roast Marmande heirloom tomato slices,
onion sauce 

A peanut and chocolate brittle finished everything perfectly!

Whilst Karen had the Apricot, fruit and ice cream dessert.

But as ever her favourite course was the cheeseboard.

And to aid the digestion........
Fabulous service, food, wine & service - go treat yourself!

Celebrations in Avignon

August has been an incredibly busy and exciting month with friends staying followed by Karen and I celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and then a week later Karen a rather special birthday.
This of course gives us the perfect excuse to take time out and visit some of our favourite places and find restaurants to recommend to our clients.

No sooner had we arrived in Avignon, we stumbled across this superb restaurant, 83.Vernet.

Set in a beautiful sunlit courtyard the main courses are just 13€ with either an entree or dessert for an extra 4€

And with wine at just 2€ a glass you know where we will be heading next time!

Open for lunch and dinner - 83.Vernet.

After lunch we meandered around this fabulous walled city, which is very easy to navigate (we recommend taking the tourist train on a first visit) taking in the cobbled streets and impressive character buildings.
I loved the wiring outside these shutters.

If you look carefully you will find this quiet backwater.

and then there is the hustle and bustle of the the Place de l'Horloge which is lined with many restaurants including another of our favourites L'Opera.

And then  you cannot miss the Palais de Pape , once the home of the Pope when he fled Rome.

The Rhone, and one of the river boats that offers nights cruises with dinner etc

The Rhone river with Pont St Benezet's Bridge, the constuction started  in 1177, in 1226 much of the bridge was destroyed and not repaired until many years later, in 1603 much of the bridge was once again destroyed by flooding and to this day remains as it is. It remains famous for the song  Sur le Pont D'Avignon. 

This is the indoor market in Avignon. Measuring 30M x 11.5M and covered in 20 different plants per square metre the exterior wall was planted in 2006.
There are 40 individual merchandisers selling everything from fruit & Veg, flowers, meat & fish to bread, wine and every mouthwatering Provencal delicacy you can imagine!

One of the fruit & Veg stall holders.

And Fish! Karen's favourite!

In the centre of town, the Hotel De Ville. not a hotel chain, but the town hall!

And the famous Opera house.

The square in front of the Palais de Pape is full of restaurants & Bars. 

Whilst in the back streets this building has been converted into quite impressive appartments.

Avignon is an absolute must visitfor  at least a day, if not two . Even though we live less than an hour away we decided to stay the night in the Hotel D'Europe in Place de Crillon, well worth it for a treat!

Within the hotel's courtyard there is a lovely restaurant and bar service.

We love Avignon - we are sure you will too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time with friends

It is often said when you move abroad that you will never be short of friends!
Well I think that is assuming you move to a sunny and warm climate!
Pictured here is Ian & Sheena, I met Ian in 1983 whilst working in Estate agency and Steve & Debbie, I met Steve in 1977 as his grandparents lived close to me in Surrey (he is Canadian and lives just outside Toronto).
It is always enjoyable to have friends staying, an opportunity to take time out and go and visit all those fabulous places that the region is renowned for.
As ever, one has to start with the important bits - a restaurant for lunch! sadly closed on the day we were in Saignon but we are told well worth a visit! 
And so instead we headed up to the rocher at the height of the village where the views are spectacular (as are the health and safety rules - be careful!)
360 degree views from the top!
And so after this, we moved on to something very close to my heart and typical of the region- wine !
A degustation at a chateau is essential. And where better than Chateau Canorgue, just outside Bonnieux .
We were lucky enough to meet with the owners daughter Natalie Margan who provided a generous tasting and useful commentary on their Bio wines.

The chateau is also known for being used in Peter Mayle's film 'a Good Year' directed by Ridley Scott, both of whom have houses in the area.
 It starred Russell Crowe
The old bassin makes a fabulous photo with the church in the back ground.

But I have to say, everyone's favourite village is Saint Saturnin Les Apt.
The church spire,village house roof tops and chateau make a fabulous picture.

As does the Moulin.

And if that does not satisfy Karen is still on show outside the hairdressers!

This must be one of the most photographed houses in the village!

Another popular town to visit is L'Isle Sur La Sorgue - or the Little Venice of Provence.
It has numerous antique shops, a market on Sunday and several great restaurants and bars.

more silver than you can shake a baguette at!
And some interesting objet d'art!

And finally after all this excitement we went star gazing in Saint Michel L'Observatoir
where we had great views of the southern Alps and we were less than an hour from home!
These rather curious buildings were perfect for star gazing.

August 9th to 18th is the optimum time for shooting stars.
All in all a fabulous week in provence!