> SlowTrav > France > Restaurants > Reviews > Provence

Paradou: Le Bistro du Paradou

57 avenue de la Vallee des Baux, Paradou , Phone: 04-90-54-32-70

Reviewed by: Lynda from CA, review #2319

When: 2006

Eating at Le Bistrot du Paradou is like having a good friend serve up a healthy portion of comfort food when you need it the most.

Years ago, I discovered Le Bistrot du Paradou and left with a full belly, fond memories, and promise to return. The time had arrived. Upon checking into Hameaux des Baux hotel in the village of Paradou, I asked the front desk clerk if she knew where the restaurant in Peter Mayle’s book could be found. She laughed and said “bien sur” that’s my family’s restaurant. Jean-Louis est mon père! A reservation was made.

Upon arrival we gave our name and discovered it wasn’t on the reservation sheet. After closer review, we saw a reservation for “Americans – 2” That was us!

Venture into Le Bistrot du Paradou and it is bustling. Locals dine among tourists- a sense of conviviality permeates the room. The menu is fixed. The choices are between which appetizer and which entrée to select, if the house red will do, and later on which cheese to sample and which dessert most tempting.

A beguiling young French waiter approached and we ordered the ravioli stuffed with foie gras and the escargot as an appetizer. For the entree, we settled on two orders of spit roasted chicken with potatoes. Looking around, we determined that since everyone else was drinking the house red that we would follow suit.

We sat back and took a sip of wine. It went down smoothly, surveyed the room, and waited for our first course to arrive. Sitting family style at one of the long tables encourages camaraderie amongst diners. At our table were two couples from Belgium. We struck up a conversation and heard all about their holiday.

Following dinner, the cheese platter arrived. We selected two goat cheeses, one tangy and one ensconced in herbs, and a creamy camembert. Dessert included mousse au chocolate and a fruity flan which was described as my Belgian neighbor as très bizarre.

Eating at Le Bistrot du Paradou is like having a good friend serve up a healthy portion of comfort food when you need it the most. The prix-fixe menu makes for a good value. But it’s not only the food that makes Le Bistrot du Paradou a worthwhile stop. It’s the atmosphere. Owner, Jean-Louis Pons who masterfully works the front of the house was made famous when Peter Mayle wrote about him in A Year in Provence. He doesn’t disappoint. Jean-Louis stops by each table, chatting it up with diners. I commented that the chicken was the most succulent that I had tasted in France. His reply was, “Bien sur (of course), we have the best chicken in the world!”

In the back of the house, Jean-Louis’ wife, Mireille, reigns the kitchen with highest standards and fresh, local ingredients. She is responsible for the country lamb on Saturdays, the aioli on Fridays, the coq au vin, the duck confit, the cassoulet with beans, and other regional favorites.

As we prepared to leave, a couple walked by our table and said to Jean-Louis “à demain” (see you tomorrow). A twinge of envy crept up inside me, and I made the same promise that I made years ago. It might not be tomorrow, but the next time I’m in Provence, I too, will return to Le Bistrot du Paradou.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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