Sunday, August 7, 2011

STAMP #7: Aix en Provence, France

Woke at 2:30am to a huge thunderstorm and heavy downpours. Rushed round closing windows. The lightening over Mont Ste-Victoire was spectacular.

My husband, who arrived from Vancouver yesterday, and I had a late breakfast of juicy peaches and fromage blanc because I slept in after losing sleep in the storm.

All we felt like doing today was having a big lunch at an excellent family-owned restaurant in Le Tholonet. The village is an unlikely place for a fine dining establishment. Chez Thome is hidden away in a street behind Le Relais Cezanne, and if you don't know it's there, you'll never find it.  It took us half an hour to run it to earth despite the fact that my husband had been before. The effort was worth it. The 150 year old building is ivy covered and stands in large grounds with a dove cote, a huge dining terrace and a car park. It's a rambling place and has half a dozen small dining rooms and a bar. The decor is rustic except for the big main room, which is elegant and has a fireplace.

Sunday's are family days in France and at lunch Chez Thome was full - adult children with their aged parents, children as young as two with their moms and dads, and grandparents with their extended families. Even the toddlers were imaculately dressed and coiffed. I knew enough to dress up too - I always take some snazzy accessories with me on these trips to France to smarten my casual clothes. Good job I do or I would have looked awful amongst these fashionistas; James put on long pants too. Sunday lunch is the big event of the day here with three courses and good wine that takes up to three hours to enjoy. Today was no different.

King Edward VII of the United Kingdom with Pri...                                                                     R: Edward VIIIn 1906, King Edward VII motored to Le Tholonet on holiday and ate here - there's a plaque announcing the fact by a back door. It's an odd place for it but I suspect it may have been the front door then.

Chez Thome did us proud - duck salad with a phyllo package filled with chevre and fresh herbs, a rare beef bavette with new potatoes and a carrot mouse, and a half litre of red vin de pays. To follow was a divine chocolate pudding (tiny but soooo rich) with homemade ice cream. The latter was vanilla but golden with cream.

We came home for a nap and later perhaps a swim to cool down!
Chez Thome is closed Sunday night and opens again for Tuesday lunch. Reservations are essential - call 04 42 66 90 43 or email Info at

IMAGES: First and last (c) Julie H. Ferguson 2011

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