Raymond Blanc, The Daily Telegraph, July 09, 2013
Where Raymond Blanc would enjoy...
A typical brunch
My favourite food market is at Sanary-sur-Mer, where there are stalls selling beautiful slow-cooked squid, bouillabaise, bourride [a simpler version with aïoli, a garlic mayonnaise], country bread, olives, tapenade [olive paste], anchoïade [anchovy purée] and other picnic foods. You can buy these as a takeaway, or eat similar dishes in cafes and bistros surrounding the square.
Provençal Market Dishes from 5 euros (Allées d’Estienne d’Orves, Sanary-sur-Mer; open every morning until noon). There is also an excellent fish market.
Since we are in Sanary-sur-Mer, I would recommend La p’tite Cour, which has a lovely shaded patio that’s perfect for a long lunch. They do marvellous things like locally caught rouget [red mullet] and supion [baby cuttlefish] with saffron risotto, or catch of the day with a flan of seasonal vegetables.
There’s a fantastic place in St-Tropez where I had my best bouillabaise. It is called La Bouillabaise, actually, and it’s right on the beach. It was a winter’s day, with the waves crashing on the shore, a beautiful spot. If you want to escape St-Tropez, head to Grimaud, where Les Santons does a good set menu at lunchtimes only. It’s authentic but sophisticated: carpaccio of purple artichokes in extra virgin olive oil with toasted sesame seeds, or ballotine of monkfish and smoked duck with baby broad beans. Just down the road, in Gassin, is La Verdoyante, set among vineyards, with views of the Bay of St-Tropez. I’d order the slow-cooked vegetable tart with warm goats’ cheese, followed by fish of the day with ratatouille, pistou and an orange vinaigrette.
La p’tite Cour
Three-course menu 29 euros, three-course gourmand menu 40 euros (6 rue Barthélemy De Don, Sanary; 04 94 88 08 05; laptitecour.com ).
Three-course menu 49 euros (Quartier la Bouillabaise, St-Tropez; 04 94 97 54 00; alpazurhotels.com/en/restaurant-plage-bouillabaisse ).
Three-course lunch menu 37 euros, 59 euros with wine. (Route Departementale 558, Grimaud; 04 94 43 21 02; restaurant-les-santons.fr ).
Three-course set menus from 28 euros, five-course tasting menu 54 euros (866 Chemin Vicinal de Coste Brigade, Gassin; 04 94 56 16 23; la-verdoyante.fr ).
Gérald Passédat, a truly great chef, has opened Le Café in the gardens of the Fort St-Jean in Marseille, where you can go just for a drink. On Fridays, it’s open until 10pm but it closes at 7pm on other days. It’s part of MuCEM (the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Mediterranée), at the entrance to the Old Port, so you can visit the museum then come here for a glass of rosé.
Le Café Wine by the glass from 5 euros, pitcher 11.50 euros, bottle 15 euros (Ground floor, MuCEM, Esplanade J4, Marseille; 04 84 35 13 13; passedat.fr/en ).
I love sailing, which has allowed me to stay on the little islands off Hyères. They have some charming hotels, including Le Manoir, on the Ile de Port-Cros, and Le Mas du Langoustier, on the Ile de Porquerolles, which both have good restaurants. At Le Manoir, I’d have fish soup, bourride of John Dory or cuttlefish salad with pistou macaroni. L’Olivier, at Le Mas du Langoustier, has a Michelin star and does a lovely paella with monkfish sushi and chorizo, and a chèvre paysan [country goats’ cheese] with green olive tapenade.
Le Manoir de Port-Cros
Three-course menu 58 euros (Ile de Port-Cros; 04 94 05 90 52; hotel-lemanoirportcros.com ).
Set menus from 62 euros (five courses) or 78 euros with wine, Ã la carte from 100 euros, tasting menu 130 euros (Le Mas de Langoustier hotel, Ile de Porquerolles; 04 94 58 30 09; langoustier.com ).
At La Bastide St Antoine, near Grasse, Jaques Chibois makes some great food. It has two Michelin stars and they do a wonderful starter of oysters, caviar and smoked scallops, and a superb lobster bouillabaise with olives.
In Marseille, Gérald Passédat’s Le Petit Nice is amazing. Some of his fish dishes are outstanding, such as his “Bouille-Abaisse” - three tiers of bouillabaises made with raw shellfish, shallow-water fish and deep-water species respectively. There’s a terrace over the sea and you can swim if you want, from the rocks. It has three Michelin stars, but Passédat now has some casual brasserie-style places at his Le Môle complex at MuCem (including Le Café, which I mentioned). I think that’s where the future of Provençal cuisine lies: a great chef, propagating better-quality food at a price people can afford.
La Bastide St Antoine
Three-course lunch menu 63 euros, six-course menu 178 euros, 10-course menu 198 euros (48 avenue Henri-Dunant, Grasse; 04 93 70 94 94; jacques-chibois.com/uk ).
Le Petit Nice
Six-course lunch menu 85 euros, 120 euros with wine, 13-course menu 280 euros, three courses À la carte from 66 euros (Anse de Maldormé, Corniche JF Kennedy, Marseille; 04 91 592 592; passedat.fr/en ).
Raymond Blanc was talking to Andrew Purvis
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