Saturday, April 14, 2012

One Restaurant I Love in the Luberon

Michel and Gisele Montisci bought the popular Restaurant de la Gare outside Bonnieux in 2009; the building dates to the early 1900s and has housed a restaurant since the 1950s. It draws a heavily local crowd...and the few tourists intrepid enough to find it. This charming little quartier, with its old train station, is like a wonderful step back in time. And the restaurant offers one of the best meal deals around.

First, you serve yourself from a buffet of cold salads and vegetables, then Gisele brings out the main course, which changes every day. Last time I went it was beef stew in red wine sauce, served with a potato galette; other days it could be a navarin de veau, sauté de canard or poulet rôti. Chef Patrick Pin's hearty, home-style cooking is perfect for the rustic setting and a pichet of local wine, a basket of bread and your choice of cheese or dessert is included in the price. It's all served in a large convivial dining room--with a hodgepodge of art on the walls and a huge fireplace--or on the terrace overlooking the fields and hills. The welcome is warm, the food is great and the plat du jour formula makes everything super easy. And the price for all this hearty goodness? Just 15€, my friend. Lunch is served every day except Sunday, from noon until roughly 2:30, or until the food runs out.

And what's this about Pierre Cardin having bought the old buildings next door? Gisele tells me it's true, and that Mr. Cardin told her he plans to convert them into a cultural center and a cinema. Renovation is nearly complete, she reports, but the project is still under development and nothing is definite yet. Cardin, as you may know, owns the old château of the Marquis du Sade in nearby Lacoste,  and has underwritten a popular arts festival there for more than ten years. Cardin has snapped up many other buildings as well, creating all sorts of local drama—but that has nothing to do with the great lunch you’re going to have in Bonnieux.   

The only problem with Restaurant de la Gare is that it’s hard to find the first time you go. Heading east on the D900 towards Apt, turn right (south) on the D36 heading towards Bonnieux. After 500 meters or so, take a right at the third road, at the Odalys Residences. (If you see the big Cave de Bonnieux, you've gone too far). If you're coming from the other way, meaning from the village of Bonnieux heading north,  take the D36, pass the Cave de Bonnieux on your right and take a left at Odalys Residences.  

Restaurant de la Gare 
Quartier de la Gare, across from the old train station

Photos from top: You've arrived! Daily specials and desserts are posted on blackboards. The old train station, across the street from the restaurant.


  1. Such a good recommendation Julie. Gave me the idea of going back. They are so nice and it's such a bargain (and you know how I like good bargain!!)

  2. Adding this to my list for my next trip up there next week. Thank you for the tip!

  3. I tried to find this place when we were in Bonnieux last fall but we couldn't find it. Your pictures and description just confirm that this is probably a restaurant I would love.

  4. I love the look of it..... You KNOW there are wonderful surprises in there......... I would eat anywhere you tell me to. xo Maryanne

  5. Oh Julie....yes yes yes. This is one of our most favorite places!! We had rented a house in Goult, and found our way down to this almost mysterious place! It was wonderful: food, ambience, service, everything. I only hope it doesn't change....

  6. I wish we would have known about this restaurant when we were in Bonnieux last September. It sounds lovely. I am sending this on to my friend in Apt, so they can find it. Maybe next time when we get back to Apt and the Luberon.
    Thanks for the great tip.

  7. I was in Bonnieux yesterday!!! If only I had read this post. Big sigh. But at least now I know because I never know where to eat there and if you say it is good, I know it is a score! And at that price? Pssh. "Finger in the nose" as they say so elegantly here in Provence.

  8. I live such motives and old vuintage places)))) thanks for sharing)))



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