Colombe d'Or – the legendary hideaway of artists in Provence
Its history is perhaps like no other restaurant on the world. Paul Roux opened Colombe d’Or in 1920s (under the name “Chez Robinson”). It was only a couple of years later, when he added a small inn, where the most prominent artists of its time lodged and created their masterpieces. Roux’s penchant for art draw many art bohemians – from the ranks of Picassos, Braques, Légers and others – to the lovely Povençal village of St. Paul d Vence.
Cuisine: Provençal; traditional French
Visit: August 2012
Atmosphere: Vibrant, fresh and inviting. Whether you sit under the umbrellas at the terrace or between the walls bejeweled with Picasso’s inside, you will feel comfortable and welcomed. That is perhaps the reason why the biggest artists of this as well as of the past century have been flocking to La Colombe d’Or (“The Golden Dove”) to wine, dine and be inspired. One of the newest admirers of the area became the talented Spanish artist Antonio Villanueva, who still spends a couple of weeks in the area each year.
Food: Authentic, rustic and in the grandmother style.
You can start with a Basket of crudités (raw vegetables) and dip them in an artichoke sauce or with a large Plate of appetizers – the Selection of Colombe d’Or. Judging from the picture bellow, the later may become an entire lunch for two or three people without the need of ordering any main course. There are 14 different dishes cold and warm served at the same time at your table. One does not know what to dive in first, but trying all of them will bring light into your preferred choices. The gratinated eggplant and red pepper, pickled red beet, chickpeas risotto and lentil salad were my personal favorites. My male partner loved the meat paté and cauliflower salad.
Although, one might spare some space for the excellent lamb that many diners here praise. There is also a seasonal selection of desserts from fresh strawberries to local cakes and seductively looking ice cream, so prepare for a feast.
After all, this is a place to be enjoyed slowly, no rush to leave, just relish the art, fresh air and holiday atmosphere with all that granny-style food.
Drinks: The wine selection is smart. From local Provençal staples (and more affordable) to Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy wines. It is all French selection though. We have tried the Cuvée la Colombe d’Or made for the restaurant by winemakers from Pierrafeu. This rosé had lots of depth and elegant peachy aroma typical for Côtes de Provence pink wines. After you lunch or dinner all guests (except children) get a complimentary shot of a local digestif. A bit strong for me, but its sweetness makes it easier to drink than a shot of plain vodka. It works perfectly as an après-dîner [dèjauner] (after dinner – lunch) drink.
Address: Place du Général de Gaulle; 06570 Saint-Paul de Vence, France
Contact: Tel: +33(0)4 93 32 80 02
Opening hours: Lunch: 12noon-2pm; Dinner: 7:30-10pm
Opening season: Closed from the end of October till Christmas.