A brief stay in France to try to tie up the many loose ends that were left over since my departure last year. Anyone who has been around me recently will have noticed how I drone on relentlessly about how awful the French are. Well, I take it back er some of it.
It starts really badly in Aix when I wait for 15 mins in a Cafe before being served. The waiter is talking to his friends, doing the crossword, brushing his hair, picking his nose until he finally decides to come to my table. He puts one hand on my table, leans forward and raises his eyebrows. This is his translation of, ” Hi, how’s it going? What can I get you?”
Today however I head towards the lavender fields of Valensole. It is warm, windy and big white clouds slide across the blue, blue sky. I stop for lunch in Le Grand Cafe in Valensole. As soon as I sit down a man comes over and greets me. It is Laurent who owned a restaurant I used to frequent in St Paul Lez Durance and is now the patron of Le Grand Cafe. He seems genuinely happy to see me. We chew the lard for a while until my meal arrives.
The service was excellent, the food had been cooked rather than microwaved and what’s more it wasn’t Pizza. The starter was homemade terrine, followed by canard avec ratatouille, tarte tatin, cafe, cafe, un demi de rose – sorry no accents. The wine was cold, the weather was warm, the sun was bright and I was invaded by a powerful sense of wellbeing. My table was just beside the road and I looked up to spy a very beautiful women with shades cruise by in a brand new, white, BMW. It all made sense. Paying my bill and chatting with Laurent someone taps me on the shoulder and lo it is the beautiful woman from the BMW. She kisses me on the cheeks and all the men in the bar go “Shnurt.” I used to work with her. She had seen me as she drove by, parked her amazing car and come to see me. Shucks – sun, fine food, cool wine, old friends, beautiful women, all in an obscure resto in a tiny town in Provence.
This is the restaurant. Go there – it is what France is best at!
If you can’t go there then send Laurent an email thanking him for being a great guy and for cooking such wonderful food.
I then proceed to lavender and sunflower fields.