Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Renaissance of the Roquette, part two

The renaissance of the Roquette neighborhood in Arles has been driven by the people, places and pets (!) that are hoping to shake it's previously shaky reputation by transforming it into one of the town's most charming areas. But come along, let's see for ourselves...

Let's begin on the rue des Porcelets as it leads to the Place Paul Doumer. At all hours, it is bustling with activity...

...but not all of the merchants are newcomers. The Genin family installed their boucherie-charcuterie shop, La Farandole, on this corner in 1877 and have fabricated their world-renowned Saucission d'Arles since 1655! That means that five generations have kept their recipe a secret. Did Vincent Van Gogh enjoy this tasty hard sausage? Quite possibly!

Further along on the left is Le Gibolin. Something tells me that the crazy Dutchman might have appreciated this spot for its tipple. Brigitte and Luc, two former parisiens, have established the spot as Arles' only cave à manger, where you can pop in to buy a bottle of wine or sit down for considerably hearty Provençal food such as piquillos peppers stuffed with morue and a fine daube de taureau in the colder months. The town's movers and shakers are happy to elbow up at the wooden communal tables for a chance to imbibe the warm ambiance.

Le Gibolin
13 rue des Porcelets
Price: around 16-35€ without wine

Keep walking, past the delightful children's book store, and Ben (isn't that a fine name? ;) will give you a welcome you won't forget in his tiny but charming shop. We chatted for quite some time (he recognized me because of the puppers--yes, I am famous for mes chiens) but I will definitely head back to try his incredibly reasonably priced delicacies. He offers up sandwiches, salads and paninis with over thirty fresh, seasonal toppings for you to choose from. As he stated, "It is like Subway...but better!"  With ingredients like home-made foie gras dusted with sea salt, fresh goat cheese with mint and shallots and Paletta Iberica on the menu, I would say that is something of an understatement, wouldn't you?

Le Comptoir Des Porcelets
21 rue des Porcelets
Tel.: 04 90 4905 46
Open non-stop, very unusual for Arles
Sandwichs: 4.50-5.50 Euros, Salads: 4-5 Euros, Paninis: 5-6 Euros
Home-made daily desserts: 3.50 Euros
Also can be ordered for takeaway for a picnic on the Rhone!

Cross over to the right hand side and dive into the cool depths of Grenad'in Ice, which has only been open for two weeks. My food radar doesn't miss a bit and so, dear reader, I made the hefty sacrifice of researching it for you on a scorching day. Florence is the owner and ice-cream maker (her labo is visible from the shop). Everything is from scratch. She buys the fruit at the market and even bakes the pain d'epices to crumble into the flavor of the same name. That was exactly what I chose after asking Florence what was her favorite...

Can you tell that I enjoyed it just a tiny bit? 

(Confession: this photo was taken after I had delightedly slurped down nearly half of the cone, portions are far more generous)

Grenad'in Ice
20 rue des Porcelets
One Scoop: 2.50 Euros, eat more at your own risk.
Milkshakes and sundaes available as well and Florence hopes to soon offer a few salé options too.

While there were plenty of seating options in the cheery space, I chose to park myself for prime people watching at a bench in the Place Paul Doumer just beyond. Such a land of far niente this shady café dotted square is. Clearly folks had nowhere pressing to be... for the Mommy's on their after school runs. The stylish model thin woman with the red espadrilles flared up an ugly spot of jealousy in me until I remembered one very important fact: she wasn't enjoying an ice cream cone, now, was she?

There are several new establishments on the place, including L'Epicerie Moderne at #24, which specializes in the finest products from the region such as olive oils and red Camargue rice, all displayed with a retro touch... well as Cécilia Flor at #16, where Sébastien celebrates my favorite--bouquets of all-white flowers...ahhh...

On a chilly winter's afternoon ten years ago, we were welcomed out of the Mistral and in to the fantastic antique store Circa to have a cup of tea. It was a kind gesture that I never forgot and so it was with little surprise that I learned that it is something of a mini-cultural centre with exhibitions and musical performances surrounding the excellent pieces for sale, all from the 1930-1970s.

2 rue de La Roquette

A similarly fine mix of deco and welcome can be found at La Pousada, a jasmine covered bijou of a bed & breakfast (only three bedrooms!), mere steps from the Rhone. But you might just be tempted to stay in et faire le cocooning at this sweetly serene spot where the buildings ancient materials have been incorporated into a comfortable contemporary environment. We love that! 

La Pousada
9 rue de la Croix-Rouge
Rooms from 80-116 Euros, closed between mid-November to the beginning of March

Climbing jasmine also beckons at the entry to L'Hôtel Particulier, which is, in my completely subjective opinion, the finest hotel in Arles, if not in the entire region. It might just be my aesthetic ideal, kind of like if Paola Navone designed the welcome area beyond the pearly gates. This unbelievably beautiful lieu (my design friends most likely have the Zuber wall-papered bedroom on their inspiration boards) certainly deserves its own post and then some, if only I can summon the courage to ask! For that is how much esteem I have for Brigitte Pagès de Oliveira, the hotels creator and one of the absolutely one of the key harbingers of the Renaissance of the Roquette...

L'Hôtel Particulier
4 rue de la Monnaie
Rooms from 309-509 Euros

I hope that you have enjoyed this second little walk through one of Arles' oldest and most fascinating neighborhoods...there is more to come!


  1. Oh how delightful! Dolce far niente but with dutiful consumption of gelato and charcuterie...If Florence makes the salees versions then how perfect would it be to go and have the first and second cour plus dessert in a gelateria! That hotel looks particularly lovely as well! Tempting me for a little weekend jaunt in Sept! x

    1. Come down! Come down! *clapping loudly*
      Oooh, it would make me soooo happy to meet you and you would love it here!!!

    2. Ooh! I am now henceforth going to be tailoring posts especially made to entice you. :)
      September is goooorgeous here.
      And the exhibitions from the Rencontres Internationales de Photographie will still be up!
      You can fly in cheapie to Nimes and it costs nothing...

  2. One of the things I love about the larger towns in France is that individual "quartiers" are like their own small self-sustaining village. That would certainly apply to Roquette, although I would say it is more chic/mod than most of the small villages of Provence. Thanks for the delightful tour.

    1. Oh, you're welcome! Thanks for your wonderful tour of Beaumes. :) And yes, I love seeing the difference in bigger towns like Avignon and Aix too...each area is so wonderful!

  3. Well..I can hardly wait for more!...Maybe I need to print the picture of the gal in the red shoes and pin it on my fridge?....Janey

  4. What a lovely place, my god! What the hell am I doing in Miami?

    Oh well, can't have it all I guess...

    1. Miami is nothing to sneeze at! ;)

    2. Yeah, but not my kind of town... :(
      Bon week-end!

  5. Your previous post raised certain expectations but you've exceeded them. I enjoyed your walk very much indeed!

    1. Oh that is lovely, thank you. For some reason with all of the links this post took hours and hours to put together so I am glad it is appreciated. :-)

  6. Well, now I feel I have toured YOUR city!That was a much needed break!Is the BEN in the "SUBWAY" place an AMERICAN?His panni sound so wonderful!!!!!!About THAT MOM,I too thought wow and I do not like this tattoo rage but even her bloody Tatoo looked good between those shoulder blades!!!!!!You just NEVER mind!Your HAIR IS GORGEOUS and so are YOU!
    Your devoted Contessa

    1. And so are you my lovely Contessa. I can't wait to hear how you are doing and continue to send good energy your way.
      Gros bisous,

  7. Thanks for the lovely walking tour. Almost as good as being there... almost as good as being there... almost as good (Hush! I'm trying to convince myself!) I was kinda surprised to see the ice cream flavor signs written in English.

    1. I loved your response, Susan but think that you did such a good job of convincing yourself that you saw the signs in English...look again... ;)

  8. Heather

    What a wonderful town and lifestyle. I am surprised at how reasonable prices are for such quality.Enjoy your days

    Helen xx

    1. Dear Helen, all of the prices at many of the restaurnats in Arles have gone up in a way I find surprising so I am delighted to present these wonderful options that are not expensive! Even I can afford to go there!
      Wishing you the same joy in your days,

  9. Your pictorial language made me feel walking through Roquette , a charming part of Arles which I unfortunately not visited on my last holiday in Arles. But I'm hooked on this part of France and I put all your infos already in my travel files for the next journey.

  10. You couldn't have rolled out the welcome mat in any more tempting a manner! Oh it would be so nice to have strolled those streets in person with you, but his was the next best thing!

  11. What a welcoming and tempting place. I will have to visit one day, just to taste the pannini and the icecream.

  12. I realize now why French, Italian or any Europeans, love to promenade in dress-up attire. The walk passes through sensual attractions for material enjoyment and I can almost add- even for the soul.

    Your lens and eyes give us a wonderful personal visit.

    Thank you.

    1. It is me who thanks you, Edgar. You have been giving me a lot to think about lately in your lovely posts.

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  14. I love the texture of the streets.

    1. Isn't that great? The renovated streets are part of what gives this area its newfound cachet--we could use them in the rest of town too!

  15. What a fun stroll, I have to admit I'm very, very hungry after wandering these charming streets with you. I'm sipping my coffee and contemplating breakfast, but would happily pass on my usual yogurt and berries for one of those homemade foie gras dusted with sea salt sandwiches. Yum. Hope your weekend is full of more delicious wandering! XOXO

    1. I once had foie gras and champagne for breakfast at Christmas-time here, it was wooooonderrrrfullll. I know that you have no doubt!
      Wishing you a gorgeous Solstice weekend as well!

  16. Oh, this was just delightful!
    We come to Provence every year and stay near Arles. I can't wait to check out some of these places this September. You have done such a charming job of showing a city that I'm very fond of. I can't wait to try that pain d'épices ice cream!

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