Sunday, June 3, 2012

Michelin Star Chef Opens Casual ''Guingette''

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Sharon deRham has been traveling the world since age 19. She has a B.S. and M.A. in Spanish Linguistics and has taught both Spanish and French.  An M.B.A. in Finance propelled her into the high-tech world of Silicon Valley, where she worked at Hewlett-Packard and Cisco. She then studied food and wine in France, Italy, Mexico, China, Vietnam and the Napa Valley.  From 2001 to 2005,  Sharon owned and operated Mostly French, an antique and pottery shop in Calistoga (Napa Valley). She now lives in Vaison-la-Romaine, where she works as private guide, specializing in food, wine, and history tours of Provence for up to 15 people (contact: Passionate about all things culinary, Sharon has become one of my best sources for what's happening, not just in Vaison but across the whole Northern Vaucluse region. She got in touch the other day to tell me about a fun new restaurant opening this weekend and of course I grilled her for all the info. This is what she sent...

When a ‘’guingette’’ opens in Provence, it’s not such big news. But when it’s owned by a Michelin-starred chef, that’s another story indeed. Raoul Reichrath, who--with his sommelier wife Flora--owns the one-star Grand Pre Restaurant and the Bistro Preface in Roaix, officially unveiled his newest spot last night. It's called Les Paillottes and it too is in Roaix, 10 minutes from Vaison-la-Romaine.

So what’s a guingette? It’s a very-casual, outdoor dining, drinking and dancing venue. The concept developed several centuries ago outside Paris, to escape the taxes levied in the city.  It then spread to the countryside throughout much of the rest of France. Today’s guinguettes are open-air establishments serving up food, drink and sometimes music for dancing. The atmosphere is fun and relaxing--perfect for summer vacations. You’ll see them all over Provence, though not with the same pedigree as this one!

I expect the food, though casual, will be excellent given that Raoul is considered by many to be the best chef in the region.  At Les Paillottes he’ll be keeping to tradition by serving a simple selection of grilled foods, salads and desserts. First courses  (€8) will run along the lines of ceviche, fish soup and brandade (a Provencal cod and potato dish). Main courses  (€12-16) will include grilled lamb, beef, pork, chicken, salmon or squid; they’ll be served, most likely, with salad, fries, and sauce. Desserts (5€) will change weekly. Wine will come from seven local Roaix wineries and will be served by the carafe (pichet) or bottle….the selection includes the delicious Pique-Basse, which has earned stellar ratings. On Friday and Saturday nights, a fixed-price, three-course dinner is offered for €25.

Dining at Les Paillottes is on an umbrella- and tree-shaded patio, making this the perfect venue for a casual summer meal. In July and August there will be music and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.

To get there: Roaix is 1/2 hour northeast of Orange, 20 minutes north of Gigondas. Les Paillottes is located on the D975 (the Route de Vaison), just outside the village. If you take the D975 from Vaison towards Roaix you’ll see a sign on the left side of the road. It’s about 10 minutes or less from Vaison. Open daily, except for lunch on Monday. Hours are noon to 2 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm. Reservations accepted. Phone: 04 90 36 16 34. GPS: 44◦14’40”   5◦1’22” Email:

Photos: Top photo by Sharon deRham. Photo of Raoul and Flora by Julie Mautner. Want to reach Sharon? Email her at:


  1. What a great post, Julie! This makes me want to go NOW!! I will definitely keep it in mind for when my Sis comes to visit next month. How fun.

  2. I was just in the area yesterday! I wish I had known about this place as our lunch choice was very average

  3. I'm in Australia now but will be in Vaison on Friday - thank you Julie, I'll book for dinner!

  4. This sounds great. And don't forget the Bistrot d'O in Vaison, the only good place there.

  5. Hi Julie, thanks for the heads up on this little treasure!

    a bientôt!


  6. We can see Roaix from our house and have eaten at their restaurant and bistro on multiple occasions but can't say we have ever had a memorable meal. There are quite a few restaurants in the area that we like much better. I will go try this new one when we are back in Sablet in a few weeks.