My hotel recommended a local competitor as a place for me to dine [Be patient waiting for those links to load – our French neighbours have finally given up on the blaring music to accompany their websites but they still like a pointless animation here and there]. It was a short drive away through the ridiculously picturesque villages of Challanges and Levernois. Once I had parked Speranza safely, I had a short walk around the beautiful, wooded grounds and wondered as I always do how such small villages can sustain such places in France when the ones I grew up in in Wales can barely support a chippie, a Chinese and an Indian takeaway. Then I introduced myself and settled down on the beautiful terrace to my current drink – a Virgin Mary – as my "apero".
The chef, Philippe Augé, has a Michelin star and it's well-deserved. Tonight he proposed a special menu around "Bar" (Sea Bass to you and me). Fish is very much my thing right now but I had some issues with the menu because of my regime. I am not a New Yorker, so I hate to make a fuss, but the waiter was curious, helpful and intelligent. I dispensed with the carbohydrates in the form of gnocchi, canapés, bread and the sugars in the macarons and dessert. Among the pictures you will see the chef's response to my declining his dessert. I was asked what my diet was about and whether I ate fruit. I said I did, but that berries were better (less sugar). The amazing, decorative plate of fruit and berries was his response.
I am breakfasting at 0800 tomorrow and will load the car before then so that I can head off quickly. I have a five to six hour drive ahead of me through the hotter and even more picturesque countryside of Provence.