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In the French countryside, nothing compares to a multi- course dinner, but the noon- to three-o’clock slice of the day provides the fresh opportunity for leisurely lunches, with fresh-from -the-market ingredients. The best bistros in Provence possess four basic characteristics: a distinct personality, intimacy , a very convivial atmosphere, and a very generous spirit.

In Arles, the owners of La Charcuterie, wanted to create a bistro for friends and they succeeded. The space has a very modest decor of red-velvet banquettes and pig figurines. The menu features the main courses featuring Charolais beef and grilled duck, a carnivore’s dream.

With its Michelin two-star rating and refined interior, the Bistro d’Eygalieres has maintained while offering a menu of exquisitely nuanced regional cuisine. A lunch at the Bistro de Luxe, located a few miles away, south of the road between St-Remy  and Cavaillon, might include grilled fillet of baby pig and a wonderful Gazpacho of fragrant strawberries.

The former Avignon mansion of Jules Pernod, creator of the liquor of the same name, now houses Numero 75. Behind an iron gate, 75 feels like a secret garden, fragrant with mimosa, bougainvillea, and lemon. Regarding the menus, they are short, with a few choices, such as pan-roasted guinea hen and a wonderful lemon confit.

L’isle sur la Sorgue is east of Avignon, a riverside town you will find a great little bistro, le jardin du Quai, a great restaurant to open in the past five years. The menu is very sophisticated and market fresh ( cod fillet, a poached peach in sugar syrup) is served in a retro atmosphere, complete with an old zinc bar and vintage tables.

In Gordes, one of the small perched villages of Luberon, it’s not easy finding authentic, reasonably priced food. Le Bouquet du Basilic, tucked behind a souvenir shop, are very adorable discoveries. Most of the dishes include the owner’s fresh basil and locally pressed olive oil.

In the little town of Apt, at Le Bistro de France , meals are as good as the best home cooking is : fresh and very generously served.On the menu, seasonal specials and menu classics like the tasty Blanquette de Veau – a creamy veal stew that’s the ultimate bistro comfort food and it is is truly no surprise that the Bistro plays to a full house.

Where to stay

Chez Bru, 4 rooms for rent above a 2-star restaurant. Rue de La Republique, Eygalieres;www.chezbru.com

Hotel d’ Europe. 16th- century mansion on the city’s central square. 12 Place Crillon, Avignon. http://www.heurope.com

Chez Bru

Eygalieres

Le bouquet du basilic.

Gordes in Provence

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Former mansion of Jules Pernod.

Bistro 75

L’hotel Particulier, houses in an 18th-century pavillon, Rue de La Monnaie, Arles; hotel-particulier.com

http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com