Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Cool Tourist at Cuisine de Comptoir in Arles




"Yes, yes but where do the locals go to eat in Arles?" This is a question that I am asked a lot, often with an arched eyebrow as if to imply "you know, not where they go." The 'they' in this case being...les touristes.

Ah, to be a tourist. It is a charged word that everyone avoids with a wince. No one wants to travel as a fool, at the whim of guidebooks or Tripadvisor's subjective ratings. Putting together a journey these days can be the equivalent of following a Hansel and Gretel trail of crumbs while avoiding the mean 'ol witch in the oven. 

Arles is no exception. Can one have a bad meal here, in the heart of Provence where fresh produce and ingredients are in bounty? Absolutely. As in shockingly bad or worse, a re-heated frozen dinner.



So where do the locals go? On one of my walks recently, I introduced the Cuisine de Comptoir as "where you should go have lunch every day of your stay in Arles." 



We first met Alex and Vincent, the charming proprietors, long before living in Arles and it would be a staple of each visit before our move down from Paris. I remember Vincent telling me back in 2003 (ten years ago!), that they were determined to offer quality-only dishes at reasonable prices that would be just as good for the local businessman in February as for the flanning tourist in July. And that is what they have done.


So what is on the menu? Tartines! Delicious grilled open face sandwiches on Poilâne bread (they recently had to close for the evening due to a delay in bread delivery) that range from a healthy tomato and mozzarella to my favorites, the duck and cantal cheese or...wait for it...foie gras. Each are accompanied by a rather giant salad of fresh greens or a bowl of house-made soup (I am particularly fond of their mint-infused gazpacho at this time of year) with a glass of wine or a café--all for either 11.50 or 13.50 Euros depending on how decadent your tartine is. 

It is the best deal in town and it is little surprise that the Cuisine de Comptoir is packed all year 'round.
Don't believe me? Just ask the locals...


Cuisine De Comptoir
10 rue de la Liberté
13200 Arles
Tel.: 04 90 96 86 28

PS. The tiramisu is not to be missed...


The only way to be a tourist? Why to be a cool one of course! This post is the first in a series inspired by one of Arles' most fantastic new resources--The Cool Tourist map. This is the second year that Alexandre and Sébastien have put together a map that, "features the best places in town owned by friendly people only who will make you love this city as much as we do." Perfect! I agree 100% with their selections of not only where to eat but also where to sleep and shop as well. For my posh friends discovering the other side of the Alpilles, there is also a map for St. Remy as well. 



I hope it goes without saying that this is not a sponsored post in anyway, I am just spreading the joy of some awesome people and places in my little town of Arles...

41 comments:

  1. I love being a tourist. Only reason I don't like guidebooks is bc I don't want to get mugged! But I like a parallel life not knowing what will happen and reconditioning ones eyes to see the world. This is making me want to visit Arles now Heather :)

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    1. N, don't be so controversial! ;) Especially as I think of you as more of a traveller or an adventuress than anything!

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  2. First of all, that Cool Tourist is very, very muscular! What's up with that? Don't know, but I like it! Second of all, could the Cool Tourist recommend a good tour guide for Arles???? One who is charming, beautiful and super knowledgeable about Arles?? And could the Cool Tourist put a link to this blog post on their facebook page? And maybe mention the aforementioned amazing Arles tour guide?? Just wondering! Love, a big big big big big big fan. : )

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    1. Sister. That wasn't exactly subtle now, was it? ;)

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  3. Replies
    1. Oh please, Mr. Laoch! You eat better than anyone I know!

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  4. That sounds absolutely delicious!!! I LOVE being a tourist but agree that it is pretty annoying when you end up in a restaurant surrounding by the best food in the world and get, as you say, "frozen dinners". It has happened to me before and it sets a bad tone for the trip, which is why I always ask "where do the locals eat"!!! :)

    I don't have any plans to be in Provence any time soon (very sadly) but I am happy for the recommendation of the restaurant AND the Cool Tourist!

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    1. It is crazy in France of all places that it is getting to be a problem of restaurants serving frozen dinners! I can't believe it but it is true...so how awesome that there are great places like this that have stayed true to what they want to do and their customers.

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  5. He he he..I love the italicized final note. I find myself having to clarify that I find a place or product just super awesome, and it's not the establishment sending me a HUGE 50euros check to plug it on the blog!

    I do hope one day to visit your dear Arles, in the meantime I will visit how I have been this past year -- through you. : )

    I hope all is well!

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    1. Ahhhh, now I am going to bother you to come down until you do! Only 2 1/2 hours from Pareee on the TGVeee...
      Hoping all is well with you too, married lady!
      Bisous!!!

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  6. What a delightful post, Heather! You've added another reason (to my ever-growing list) to visit your wonderful town. . . you seem to know the way to these travelers' hearts is through our stomachs!

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    1. I do Jackie...I know that you are all foodies like I am! And you do the same thing too...

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  7. My kind of place Heather. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to Arles despite all of our great intentions. There are two places near Sablet that serve Tartines, one in Gigondas and the other in Villedieu. I will keep this post in my file for places to try.

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    1. A belated welcome back to France, Michel!! And yes, do add this to your list--there are so many, many places here in Arles that just don't work for me but the CDC or 'La Tartine' as everyone in town calls it, is perfect.

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  8. Thrilled you're doing this sort of series, Heather. (I'm making a mental note. Oh, j'ai besoin de rentrer en France - eh oui - rentrer pas retourner...)

    I can only imagine that being a tourist at your side would be illuminating - and fun. (I like being a tourist only when not prodded or rushes, and able to stay for long enough to get the feel of a place.)

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    1. Well then we really need to get you here to Provence, ma belle D...oooh and yes maybe to stay for good...because taking your time is what it is all about in this neck of the woods.

      And un grand merci for the encouragement to continue with this type of post. If you speak, I listen!

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  9. Looks delicious, Heather. Can't wait to experience the flavors of Provence firsthand! We finalized the first leg of the trip - we'll spend a night in Aix so Mr. H doesn't have to drive until he's got a good night sleep, and then on to Moustiers Sainte-Marie for two nights before we meet up with our friends. I expect to gain at least 5 lbs on the trip! ;-) XOXO

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    1. Jeanne! You're here!! On my to do list this week has been to send you an email! Oooh, I better hurry up!! Actually, I am going to pour myself a glass of wine and sit back down to do just that. It could be a lovely evening to sit out for dinner at la place des cardeurs--starting off in Aix is perrrrrfect!

      And please DO gain five pounds--trust me, it will be worth it. :)

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  10. Thanks for sharing. This sounds like a great place to eat.

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    1. Arles has relatively few 'hip' places to eat--but what is even better is that it is delish! Thinking of you, Loree--hope the heat hasn't already kicked in on Malte...
      xo

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  11. That restaurant sounds fabulous. Especially the tiramisu... guess you could say, when it comes to dessert, tiramisu takes the cake. (Thanks loads. Now I want some...)

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    1. I am not even a dessert person, Susan but their tiramisu is innnnssaaane. :)

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  12. I am trying to get there...............do I need a reservation ??FOUR more days and the shop will be closed!

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    1. Oh my goodness! Such a HUGE turning of the page for you. Sending Strength and Hope for all that lies ahead...
      Gros Bisous...

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  13. I only wish I needed this info this year...I love Provence......and your blog..Janey

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    1. Thank you so much, Janey! Provence will be here when you can make it... :)

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  14. Replies
    1. Silly me for not taking photos so that you could see and not just imagine...

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  15. Do you have time for a little "Arles" story? In late October 2011 my husband and I were travelling Provence, Languedoc & Pyrenees by car. On our way from Aix-en-Provence to
    Montpellier, I spied the exit for Arles. I said "Oh honey, Arles!! The place where Van Gogh had 'The Little Yellow House'. Let's stop!" It was an overcast Saturday morning but we enjoyed the outdoor market under a light drizzle and peeked in at the shops --I bought a santon of an Arslienne--Then the skies opened up! We stepped into a lingerie shop to keep dry and were chatting with the owner when she received an 'Alert Orange'. The message was that the Rhone was cresting it's banks and she cautioned us not to try to drive across to Montpellier that day. She helped us find a charming little hotel --Hotel de la Muette-- where they were incredibly gracious and helpful and then, that evening, we had dinner at a restaurant called 'Le Cricket' (unsure of that spelling). The food was delicious, the price was right, the place was jammed, but comfortable and the owners were like old friends. I will always recall with affection our unexpected overnight in Arles and long to return!

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    1. Hello Nancy! My goodness, that is quite a story! At first I will admit that I was surprised by it but then dug around in the trunk of my memory and remember very well to what storm you are referring! And the owner of the store was right (we do have the nicest ladies in the lingerie shops here), it was best not to continue your drive. The winds were violent and as people here do not have experience in driving under such conditions, you have to be incredibly careful. She put you up in a good hotel and although I have never been to Le Cricket, I know it is a visitor's favorite. I am happy that you enjoyed your surprise time here.
      Yes, do come back!

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  16. oh yummo...sounds rather good. Yes, we never want to be tourists, do we? And yet we are. But these little discoveries are exactly what stops one from feeling like a tourist...always the best spots to eat...wherever the locals are...

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    1. Yes this is right up your alley! Although far simpler than what you have been cooking lately, it is where I would have taken Henrietta if we had gone out to lunch!!

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  17. I used to live in Provence for a short period I had many friends in Manosque and Aix en Provence.Your post reminds me of my youth and makes me want to come back!

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    1. TNT, you look far too young to be speaking about your youth as if were something of the distant past! :)
      And your friends had great taste, such wonderful towns to live in...

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  18. Sounds like my kind of place with my kind of food. Have you ever considered putting a search function on your blog (am I not seeing it)? That way when I'm in Provence, I could type in "cool tourist" and get all of your recommendations!

    BTW, I had to put off reading this post until I had a full stomach and an exciting meal on the horizon to prevent death from envy and/or hunger pangs.

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    1. Ask and you shall receive dear Judith! Why did I not add that before? Anything else you want? :)

      But if you are ever in Arles...you aren't exactly going to need to look things up on my blog now, are you?
      Bisous!!!!

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  19. loving the white serving platters and roses.

    blissful.

    and very Chic.

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    1. Actually, it IS rather chic, well for rough and tumble Arles that is. :)

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  20. I love tartines, especially on pain Poilâne. Interestingly, there's a restaurant with a similar concept in Paris (right next door to Poilâne bakery) called Cuisine de Bar!

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    1. Ann, I don't know if you will see this but I bet you eat yours with a knife and fork--à la française! Me, I have just had to get over it and use my hands--because I prefer them that way! Oops. ;)
      And I know of that resto! My goodness, they couldn't have better bread if they tried, could they?

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  21. I tried to make a comment to this post back when we made it to Marseille and reliable wifi, however, even then I was foiled. Thank you for the tour and thank you for leading us to this resto! The mint gazpacho was perfect to refresh us after our walk and words cannot describe the tiramisu...the only thing you left out was the wonderful art on the walls...I ended up nourished inside and also visually. I so wanted access to my studio so I could put paint to paper...So nice to meet you!

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