guide for quality wines from the Rhône valley

Restaurants

Northern Rhône

Ampuis: Bistrot de Serine (16 Boulevard des Allées, + 33 4 74 48 65 10) is a wine bar and restaurant, annex wine shop. A nice address for a lunch break (in my case) or dinner. Everything freshly made with care and originality. A number of wines by the glass as well as an extensive wine list with mostly local producers (Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Saint-Joseph). The restaurant on the first floor has ± 25 seats and is popular with the locals, so reservations are advisable.

Ampuis: Le Cercle des Vignerons (Boulevard des Allées, +33 4 74 56 72 29) is a spacious bistro / wine shop. A limited number of suggestions on a chalkboard supplemented with a number of day specialties. All dishes are fresh and homemade and served in large quantities. Six wines by the glass and an extensive wine list. The wine list and the store offer an interesting collection of wines from the northern and southern Rhône. Popular with many winemakers.

Valence: Le 7 (285 Avenue Victor Hugo, +33 4 75 44 53 86) is the brasserie next to Sophie Pic’s three Michelin star restaurant. Modern in terms of design, fast formula, three choices per course, yet everything very tasteful and almost star-worthy. A large collection of the better Rhone wines by the glass to complete the party. And all that is still very affordable. For the big work you need to be next door and reserve at least two months in advance. In the brasserie you might still have a chance today, partly due to the fast passage. Perhaps not the right setting for a romantic dinner, but for an excellent lunch in-between winery visits, Le 7 is definitely a must. It’s a very easy drive from Cornas!

Tain l’Hermitage: Le Mangevins (7, rue des Herbes, +33 4 75 08 00 76) is a small but surprisingly good restaurant in the center of Tain. Open every weekday for lunch and dinner, they offer three choices per course each day based on fresh (regional) ingredients. The kitchen is innovative and refined; the cook definitely passionated. The wine list has a very wide regional range; in addition, a chalkboard with a number of wines served by the glass. Reservation is recommended, because the number of seats is limited (within twenty and in the small garden fifteen) and it is a popular place for local winemakers and their (international) guests. Host Vincent Dollat (sommelier pur sang) and his Japanese wife Keiko (chef pur sang) will give you a pleasant experience for an even more pleasant price. For us an must-go-to address during each of our Rhone visits, even if we have to stay one day longer!

Tupin-Semons: Auberge de la Source (+33 4 74 59 54 03) is a small family business in the upper part of the village next door of the ‘town hall’. A fantastic view on the steep slopes of the Côte-Rôtie with the river in the background. The menu is classic, but the dishes are honest and freshly prepared and the service is good. In sunny weather this is a wonderful place for a ‘Burgundian’ meal.

South Rhône

Carpentras: Chez Serge (Rue Cottier, +33 4 90 63 21 24) is an modern decorated Provençal restaurant with a large terrace. The menu and wine list offer a wide choice. Everything is well taking care of, without excess or pretensions: the interior, the dishes and the service. Excellent value for money. Every Tuesday in the wintertime, a ‘Vins & Truffes Soirée’ is organized. Owner Serge Ghoukassian was proclaimed Sommelier of the Year in 2008.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Le Verger des Papes (Rue Montée du Château, +33 4 90 83 50 40) is a favourite place for locals and tourists who visit the castle ruins and the many small wine cellars in the village. In good weather they serve in the garden; with trees and an occasional Mistral wind this provides cooler temperatures during hot Summer day. A modest card and a daily menu offer plenty of choice. Honest dishes with fresh ingredients and Provençal influences. The service is extremely sophisticated and pleasant.

Crestet: La Fleur Bleue (Chemin du Sablon, + 33 4 90 3623 45) run by a nice Dutch couple, is offers a restaurant and gites. The interior is ‘brocante’ in blue colours, collected by Fiejette Worm (Brasserie van Baerle) at local markets. The menu offers sufficient choice in regional dishes with fresh ingredients. David Worm (Tout Court, De Kersentuin) cooks a monthly changing menu from € 23 to the deluxe version for € 37.50 The wine list (the responsibility of wine connoisseur Fiejette) offers plenty of local producers and is very reasonably priced. Once seated, they bring you a carafe of chilled tap water and some bread, as it should be! A great address for an affordable lunch or dinner (open 6 days a week), with always guests in and very easy to find (left side of the road from Malaucène to Vaison de la Romain).

Gigondas: Carré Gourmand (Rue du Corps de Garde, +33 4 90 37 1128) is an adorable tea room with lunch facilities, a small front and back terrace and a limited number of seats inside. Freshly made food as well as homemade regional products such as biscuits, coffee and pickled fruits to bring home. A charming place with charming service. Ideal for a morning coffee fie, afternoon tea, a handmade ice cream or a small lunch. Open from 10.00 am.

Uchaux: Côté Sud (Route d’Orange, +33 4 9040 6608) is a pleasant address in one of the Côtes du Rhône Villages for lunch or dinner. The restaurant also has a spacious, covered terrace. The lunch menu shows good value for money. A Provencal menu and friendly service.

Provence

Marseille: Miramar (2 Quai du Port, +33 4 91 91 41 09) is the classic address for a three-course bouillabaisse. The older black brigade is a bit tired, but Le Royal lives up to its name (only for the really big appetite) and we rarely have room for a ‘mandatory pre-order’ dessert (a bit too commercial). The restaurant is located at the old harbour and offers a good view of the incoming fishermen. It is also possible to eat outside. According to TripAdvisor visitors ‘slightly overpriced’, but certainly a household name and worth a visit.

Savoie

Annecy le Vieux: Cozna Vera (Avenue de Chavoires, +33 4 50 63 41 65) is an organic ‘fast food’ restaurant of the three Michelin stars crowned Chef Marc Veyrat. A true culinary revolution and proof that fast food can also be tasty and responsible. A magnet for young and old; a nice place to enjoy honest food. In addition to the super burger of pure beef with a tarragon sauce and accompanied or accompanied by thick potato-in-peel-fries, a number of tasty dishes in the weck jar are also available to warm up au-bain marie for you. A variety of desserts, organic juices and even coffee and wine are of perfect quality. Everything is arranged efficiently, so do not be put off by a long line of waiting people. Ordering is relatively quick and there is now enough to see. Reservation does not seem possible at this very popular place.

Chamonix Mont-Blanc: La Maison Carrier (Route du Bouchet, +334 505 30003) offers beautiful views of the highest peak of the Mont-Blanc and is part of hotel Hameau Albert Premier. A nice spacious restaurant, an attractive terrace with relax seating in the grass, a very friendly black brigade and a map with authentic regional dishes (the Pied du Couchon was delicious yet intense). The wine list also offers many regional wines (with plenty of choice in half bottles). A very pleasant place with remarkably pleasant hospitality, so do not be put off by the chic appearance of this establishment)

Voglans: Restaurant L’Essentiel (part of the Hotel Cervolan, Route de l’Aéroport) is at first sight a ‘trendy’ ‘hotel where Chef Bouvier gets all the space to cook at a high level. An amazingly good kitchen with modern, very attractive dishes (French and Italian tinted). Michelin endorses this by awarding a star. The wine list offers a wide choice, including a number of regional wines that can be ordered by the glass or half bottle. For those who are on the road or simply want to eat well.