In the picturesque Alpilles (the limestone mountains just south of Avignon meaning "Little Alps"), St. Rémy is just the fairy tale village that you expect to find in Provence. From the 3000 sheep hearded though the main boulevard every year on Pentecost to the Provençal style bullfights from Camargue, this is the heart of Provençal traditions. While the village is small enough, it helps to know the "bonnes adresses". Of course, my new favorite is the recent addition of the entire line of Première Pression Provence in the elegant Les Huiles du Monde located at 16 blvd. Victor Hugo.
And it just happens to be located across the boulevard from what I believe to be the best chocolate in France. Joël Durand, a master chocolatier passionate about his creations, uses the fresh plants from the region to create his divine chocolates and caramels. To discover another sweet specialty, continue to stroll down the boulevard Victor Hugo until you arrive at Le Roma. Famous for its' ice creams, Le Roma, in fact makes to best Sacristain in town. The Sacristain is the specialty of St. Rémy, a long twisted flaky pastry filled with frangipane and crusted with meringue and toasted almonds.
No visit would be complete without a stop at the most traditional of all, a place that I know very well, like it was my grandfather's house. On the route to Les Baux, tucked away behind the mental hospital where Vincent VAN GOGH was interned after chopping of his ear in Arles and where he painted various works, you'll find a small sign marked Mas de la Pyramide. As you descend the sloping entry, prepare to step back in times as you enter this ancient Roman quarry and farmhouse carved into the cliffside. While the field of olive trees, the antique farm tool collection, and the four-century old farmhouse filled with tradition and history (including the deed signed by King Louis XIV!) are all breathtaking, it's the owner of this incredible property which brings people from around the world, and even the president of France, again and again. Lolo, as he is know, is the boisterous and legendy proprietor who still cuisines his grandmother's Provençcal recipies be it for 2 or 200 guests! The tapenade omelettes are famous, the classic leg of lamb of the region is always on the menu, the coffee is made with his grandfather's sock, and the entertainment... Well, just ask him to sing Le Tango Corse or even better about his cousin who went hunting without a rifle or ammunition and caught the biggest most beautiful hare that never existed... which was cooked over a fire with no flames by his mother that was baking the bread that they ate last week ;-)