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Posts posted by grahamtigg

  1. For what it's worth, I received the following in a 2010 email from Patrick Moon: " Le Temps de Vivre closed a couple of years ago, after Laurent and Laurence split up."

    I was told last year Le Temps de Vivre had closed, but this perhaps explains why on our last visit Laurent was running the whole show (kitchen, front of house). Not the most relaxed lunch experience sadly.

  2. Not a suggestion but a second request - we're considering Dijon as a stopover so interested in any dinner recommendations. Similar criteria to Nikkib with a slightly larger budget if necessary given that bargain lunch menus obviously won't be available.

  3. .......

    Finally, since you will be staying nearby I can recommend a visit to a winery named 'Pujol-Izard'. They are in 11800 Saint-Frichoux. Its run by a lovely family.Very nice wines at reasonable prices. One of the sons is married to the daughter of a local friend of ours. He stocks & sell their wine from his farm just up the hill from us. Its our 'house' wine. Its probably less than 10 km from where you are staying.

    Interesting timing. I came across this interview with Pujol Izard yesterday having never heard of it before. In French though.

    Pujol Izard on Love that Languedoc

  4. For strong Michelin 1*s in the area I'd recommend Octopus in Beziers and La Galinette in Perpignan. O'Bontemps in Magalas is up there as well and great fun.

    En Bonne Compagnie in next door Homps has a nice Canal setting but doesn't open until Easter.

    Les Halles in Narbonne are excellent for local produce. You will be on the border of duck and goose territory. A bit early for new seasons produce, but you should be OK for Asparagus later in the month.

    Plenty more restaurants and notes on local dishes plus wines on my sites (see signature). Have a great time.

  5. Being based in the middle of the Herault these days means that there have been few ventures down to the Pyrenees Oriental in recent years. If you're around Beziers then Octopus is a fine favourite and very consistent. At Gignac (north of Pezanas) De Lauzun is up and coming and was awarded a Michelin star this year just 14 months after opening his first restaurant.

    In a different mould, we still love the nearby Mimosa that continues to refine simple preparations and shun fashions.

  6. Thank you for posting such fine observations Gavin.

    Good to hear Entrepots was on form. My only grumble is the lack of everyday priced wines on the list, the reds started at 20 € for the house specimen.

    La Table Saint Crescent has history. The current chef Lionel Giraud's father Claud had a restaurant in Narbonne that achieved two Michelin stars that went bust in the early '90s, but he bounced back. After a spell in a neighbourhood site he obviously stuck a deal with the Palais du Vin that lower overheads and offered exceptional value, especially for everyday wines as you experienced. This decade Lionel has gradually taken over and is moving the cooking forward with his cutting edge creations, but there are some more restrained offerings on the carte. Personally I find the location ideal if one is driving as it's out of the town centre.

    Le Temps de Vivre is the subject of Patrick Moon's book Arrazat's Aubergines. A good read that also covers other local gastronomic highlights. The restaurant struggled with the upgrading of the Lodeve bypass that caused dreadful bouchons for at least two years. They have keep going and you always know Laurent will be personally preparing your plats. His mentors were the Pourcel's at Le Jardin de Sens in its heyday.

    Your not alone is failing to find a decent meal in Clermont l'Herault.

  7. I am on holiday in the Languedoc from next wednesday. I have Mimosa and Auberge du Cedre booked. Any further thoughts on the current favourites?

    I like the look of O Bontemps and Table de Saint Crescent. I am also looking for a good seafood place in the Sete/Agde/Marseillan area.

    Also as I am staying just outside Soubes I shall probably go to the le Temps de Vivre in Poujols as it is so close - any recent visits to this place?

    O Bontemps is the restaurant of the moment in the area and seems to be booked up weeks ahead this time of year. Just as good, and I find a little more refined, it Octopus in Beziers (Olivier B helped establish it a few years ago). Reserve a table outside in their private courtyard.

    Went to le Temps de Vivre last year and the cooking is still excellent. Go in daylight to enjoy the view.

    L'Entrepots is a good choice if in Pezenas. Another place to consider and reasonable striking distance from Soubes is Ocre Rouge in Herepian.

    Our most recent discovery in the area is de Lauzun in Gignac. A bit more urban than country but the chef has talent and sound training.

  8. We had lunch at O Bontemps on the second day of opening back in June. There's no doubt Olivier can cook - the Galette de pieds en mousse de volaille (literally pigs trotters cake with chicken mousse) was one of the star dishes, as vas a faux-fillet of veau. The wine list had some serious bargains. Service was slowed by the unreasonable number of walk-ins – eventually they needed to turn people away. Why can’t people make reservations? The only other gripe is the large portion sizes; I mentioned this and it sounds like it's been fixed. Will definitely go back when we’re down in September.


    There are four other recent openings in the area I’d recommend. Use the links to find co-ordinates.


    L'Entre Pots, Pézenas, similar style to O Bontemps. Seriously popular and that can put a strain on the service.


    La Terrace du Mimosa, Montpeyroux, the Pugh’s of the nearby Le Mimosa have taken over what was the ailing Les Vins de l’Horloge.


    L'Adonis Rouge, Nr.Olargues, a seriously remote location in the chestnut forests of the Haut-Languedoc. Sublime imaginative dishes from locally sourced ingredients.


    L'Ocre Rouge, Hérépian, has actually been open a year or so. Young couple from Paris put on a fine solo show with cooking that keeps it refreshingly simple.

  9. Enjoyed a splendid lunch at Le Gourmet de Seze last week. Decor is now plain shades of coffee and although the room is smart and quite formal in appearance the staff are warm and relaxed.

    Interestingly there is no carte, just menus. From the "basic" menu gourmande (two dishes, cheese and dessert) Pied de Cochon with mustard and fried with breadcrumbs came with a small stew that included swiss chard and various wild mushrooms. All put together with care and great attention to detail. A tarte fine with mushroom duxelle topped with a paper thin escalope of chicken breast and wild mushrooms was original, delicate and delicious.

    Cod topped with celeriac and skin side down in a light cream sauce was clean and simple. Quail spatchcoked and roasted had a simple reduced stock glaze sauce. Cheese comes pre-plated so you get a selection of four in good condition. Desserts come as tasters on four plates culminating in chocolate fondant.

    Plenty of interesting wines and knowledgeable waiter. Given the attention to detail in the dishes an excellent value menu at 37 euros.

  10. So far we're looking at Montpellier, Hotel d'Argon at first, and then the Grand Hotel in Sete after that. Wanting to be on the water; even if it is just after Christmas and cold!

    What do you think of that plan?

    Would we be close at all for day trips to wine routes/places?

    Still considering TGV from CDG, vs. plane. Both to Montpellier.

    We discovered if you go into Paris, the TGV is less expensive, but then it's the time and money to get into Paris, when the TGV is right there at the airport.

    At that time of year basing yourself in good sizes towns will be more lively, especially if the weather lets you down. From Sete or Montpellier the upper Herault valley (Daumas Gassac, Montpeyroux etc.) are less than an hours drive, as is Faugeres. One place I'd recommend is Domaine Sainte Rose about 40 mins from Sete. Check their website as you will need to make an appointment.

    Getting from CDG to the Gare de Lyon (TGV) is easy. RER (urban trains) leave CDG every 15 mins and all stop at Chatelet. You then literally walk across the platform where all trains go the one stop to the Gare de Lyon. Cost about 8 euros or so, journey time less than 40 mins. Most Montpellier flights from Paris go from Orly (but there are a couple from CDG). CDG and Orly are the opposite sides of Paris. It will probably come down to the best connection times.

  11. Another good place to stay is the discreet but nicely-appointed Ostalaria Cardabela in St. Saturnin de Lucian, itself a wine village - Domaine Virgile is just a few doors down - with others close by (Pascal Fulla at Mas de l'Ecriture in Jonquieres led us through some barrel tastings), but the principal attraction is the wine service delivered by David Pugh at Le Mimosa in St. Guiraud.

    Octopus, a fairly new restaurant in Beziers.  La Raffinerie was closed, but this second choice was a very pleasant surprise - creative cooking with some Catalan influence, eg, a gazpacho milkshake(?) with olive oil ice cubes served with drinking straws.  The service was not as playful as the kitchen, which is too bad.  Interesting wine list.

    Of course the Ostalaria Cardabela and Le Mimosa close from early November to mid-March.

    Also found the service a bit tense and indifferent at Octopus, plus the dining room is a bit bare - best to sit in their courtyard if weather permits. Also dined in L'Ambassade (opposite La Gare in Beziers) in April and was pleasantly surprised. Nice modern dining room, a touch more traditional and very hands on.

    A rising star of the area with creative cooking that worked well is the Relais de Pigasse north east of Narbonne on the Canal du Midi. This has failed to re-open this season and the phone does not answer. The story is that the chef and équipe cooked in the Caribbean over the winter and decided to stay on - does anyone have any more definitive news? The restaurant - a superb stone high ceiling affaire in what was a post office! - could be up for sale.

  12. As you usually stay in a larger city then I would also second basing yourself in Montpellier. I don't have a hotel suggestion but would recommend (links are to my site) Cellier-Morel in the centre for dining. A visit to Beziers is worthwhile for a walk round the old town and views over the pays, plus there's a fine market in Les Halles. If you're in Montpellier then Bezier is an easy 30 min. train ride.

    Ref. wine routes, then in the Herault department there has been a growth in recent years of signposts to domaines in all the villages. For visits the finest wines in the Languedoc are made by small growers and single estates. In winter especially, when visitors are rare, you'll need to make an appointment. Don't let that put you off, it just makes it easier for the vigneronne and you'll know they'll be there. There are some notes and suggestions on my site here


  13. For Uzes and Nimes I would recommend: -

    Les Trois Salons - Swedish chef Petter Nillson cookes clean vibrant dishes in the modern French mold. Run by New Zealanders.

    Haven't been to La Table l'Horloge in nearby Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie for 5 years so it may have evolved since then.

    In Nimes the Vintage Cafe (central 7 Rue de Bernis) is a super bistro with great atmosphere and some delicious earthy dishes (e.g. faggots).

    For a more Michelin experience try Alexandra at Garons (next to the Airport!). It was done up a couple of years ago (lost its fountain conservatory) and feels more formal.

    You can find more comments and reviews here


  14. Not sure how I missed this thread back in September. Following a recommendation from the Pugh's of Le Mimosa (St Guiraud, north west of Montpellier) we had lunch there in early June. I understand the front of the house is run by a New Zealander. Agree with your comments about the dishes being inventive but not outlandish and they also show respect for the ingredients. These are my notes on the 17€ two course plus coffee set menu with a la carte desserts.

    The starter was a citron marinated salmon and cod with a light mixed salad - delicate and balanced and much better than it sounds. The main dish was a whole char grilled sea bream on a spring cabbage and pinenut base with a stripe of red pepper purée. This was superb in ingredient quality and execution. We also opted for a couple of desserts from the carte - a chocolate flan with a separate pineapple creation and a lemon soufflé with a milk ice cream. These pairs are served separately and our only observation being they were more two separate desserts than an integrated dish.

    We sat in the sunlit fountain adourned but tree shaded courtyard at the back - seriously relaxing. One interesting aspect was the wine list that, I recall, offered most of the wines in various sub-bottle portions e.g. 1/2 bottle, 50 cl. That said the wine prices were a tad steep - the 19€ well chosen house wine was over 500% marked up.


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