Monday, June 21, 2010

Where Would Patricia Wells Eat?

Where should we eat in Provence? As a food writer living in the South of France, it's the one question I'm asked more than any other. So this week I turned to none other than Patricia Wells for help.  

Patricia is a journalist, author and cooking teacher, an American who has lived in Paris since 1980. Her groundbreaking "Food Lover’s Guide to Paris," which debuted in 1984, was hailed as “the book that broke the secret code to Paris.” For 25 years Patricia was the restaurant critic for The International Herald Tribune and is the only woman--and only foreigner--to serve as restaurant critic for a French publication, the newsweekly L’Express. Patricia is the author of 11 books including the memoir "We’ve Always Had Paris…and Provence," which she wrote with her husband Walter, the former executive editor of the Herald Tribune In 2011, Patricia will publish two books: "Salad as a Meal" and "Simply Truffles." 

For several weeks each year, Patricia and Walter open their 18th-century Provençal home (in Vaison la Romaine) to a small number of participants hungry to soak up the food, wine, and culture of the region. The five-day program includes hands-on cooking classes (using as much home-grown produce as possible), plus guided visits to markets, vineyards, shops, and local restaurants. Patricia also offers a truffle class in January and classes in Paris as well. 

Here Patricia shares some of her current favorite restaurants, none of them more than 30 minutes from her village of Vaison. Bon App! 

BRIN D’OLIVIER. A lovely spot in the center of town, warming décor and fireplace in winter, beautiful terrace in summer. Excellent modern food and a truffle menu in winter. 4, rue de Ventoux, Vaison. or 04 90 28 74 79. Closed Wednesday. 

GAJUELA. New, with a simple good menu, great lamb and veggies, nice wine list and terrace. In Le Barroux (past Entrechaux and Malaucene). 04 90 62 36 94. Dinner only. Closed Sunday and Monday. 

LE GRAND PRE and bistro PRÈFACE. A favorite. Great ambiance, terrace, delightful with a great wine list. On the Route de Vaison in Roaix., 04 90 46 18 12. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. 

LES ABEILLES. Great terrace, wonderful food, good wine list. The owners are Marlies and Johannes Sailer. It's at #4, Route de Vaison in Sablet. or  04 90 12 38 96. 

LE PONT DE L’ORME.  A nice inexpensive restaurant in a restored 200-year-old farmhouse in Malaucene. (Drive towards Malaucene and just after a row of trees, before the roundabout, turn right when you see the sign to Suzette.) or 04 90 46 17 50. 

L’OUSTALET in center of Gigondas. New owners and a great terrace view. or 04 90 12 30 03. 

LE TOURNE AU VERRE. A nice wine bar...simple but good. On the Route de Sainte Cécile in Cairanne, about a 15-minute drive from Vaison. or 04 90 30 72 18. 

LA BAGUETTE (VIETNAMESE). A huge menu, inexpensive but good. In Vaison la Romaine on the Cours Taulignan, the main street perpendicular to the Post Office. 04 90 36 15 04. 

LE PRE DU MOULIN. Owners Caroline and Pascal Alonso have one Michelin star. Good food, pleasant setting. Route de Saint Cecile les Vignes in Sérignan du Comtat. or 04 90 70 14 55. Closed Monday lunch. 

LE SAINT HUBERT. A very old-fashioned family bistro with great truffle omelets and a good wine list. In Entrechaux. or 04 90 46 00 05. 

LE TEMPS DE VIVRE. New, with wonderful food, bargain menus and a good wine list. In Le Farjons, on the outskirts of Uchaux.  For the website, click here or call 04 90 40 66 00. Closed Wednesday. 

VINOE & CO. A wonderful wine bar in the center of Avignon, at 31, rue Saint Jean le Vieux. [Editors note: Michel Granier has closed Vinoe and will announce his new plans soon.] 

For more info on Patricia Wells, her books and her classes, click here.  

Photos: Patricia and Walter Wells; the memoir they co-wrote; Le Saint Hubert, one of Patricia's favorite nearby spots. 


  1. one of the best food experience I had in Provence was the restaurant La Guinguette du Vieux Moulin in Villeneuve les Avignon.
    it´s worth a visit!

  2. ooh Julie thanks for a terrific I have my list for my visit in the fall...!



  3. Lovely post Julie!

    I must find out more about Patricia Wells events.

    I've catalogued your recommendations for our next visit.

    We were there last July to October and ate out a few times but without going through my travel things I can't remember the names!!! They were all good anyway!

  4. Oh Julie: I have been to several of these, and this reminds me just how wonderful the area around Vaison is...Seguret is one of my most favorite towns, and Vaison: well, there are no words!

  5. I love Patricia Wells' writing and love truffles, so what a perfect combination. I don't know when if ever I'll find myself in France again, so reading about it on blogs like yours is such a treat. Thank you.

  6. I'm writing all of these restaurants down! Thanks :-)

  7. Merci Julie. I have been doing research on good restaurants in the Dentelles and here you have them all in an article. I had heard that Patricia Wells had a favorite in Roaix. I have written down the information for our upcoming trip this fall - such a help and now I am really anticipating our trip.

  8. We live part of the year in Sablet, just south of Vaison la Romaine. Most of these restaurants are on our list too. One restaurant I would add would be La Charrette Bleue. We have had wonderful meals there. You go north of Vaison towards Nyon and it is located just past Les Pilles on the Route du Gap.

  9. Thank you for all these good adresses, I'm going to try them

  10. Thanks for the recommendations- a great range of cuisines. Unfortunately, I believe Vinoe, (the last on Patricia's list) has now closed in Avignon, which sorely needs a decent wine bar.
    As a wine school/guest house not far from Avignon, my students and guests would love to have more wine bars where a wide choice of Rhone and other French wines can be sampled by the glass and they can practice their new found knowledge!
    I'd recommend Caveau de la Tour De L'Isle; a wine and cheese shop in Isle sur la Sorgue with a small bar for sampling at the rear if anyone is in that area.

  11. Thank you Linda. I just spoke with the lovely Michel Granier at Vinoe & Co. and indeed he has closed in Avignon. He's hoping to announce a new project soon. Thaks for letting us know.

  12. Thanks for the update on Patricia and her forthcoming books. I have all her cookbooks and used to be acquainted with her when I was with Hilton Internat'l. and traveled to Paris.
    Love the list of restaurants ~ makes me yearn to be in Provence!

  13. As I read all the replies. I confirmed that that place was very nice. Just by reading the comments, I feel that maybe I should visit that place and feel all the things that they felt.

  14. We love St Hubert and, in fact, the same day you posted this, we posted our own review on our blog site. We also have a review of another great restaurant choice, "Le Poeme de Grignan" in... Grignan! Thanks for posting Patricia's tips.

  15. Thank you for the list....I always love to know other people's recommendations, xv.

  16. I remember some of these restaurants from when my husband and I attended cooking and wine classes at Chanteduc, Patricia and Walter's home in Provence, a few years ago. What wonderful memories.

  17. Hello Dear!
    Wanted to remind you of the French Obsession Party on July 1st.
    Love your blog!

  18. Thanks for the tip. We will try as many as possible in our visit in Provence on September.