Cucuron is one of my favourite villages in Provence, because it’s very sophisticated without having lost any of its unselfconscious charm and rusticity.
I’ve also had the pleasure of enjoying many excellent meals at La Petite Maison (place de l’Étang, 84160 Cucuron. Tel. +33 (0)4 90 68 21 99) through the years – the gigot de sept heures (leg of lamb braised for seven hours) served with white beans and haricots verts au pistou is one of the best dishes to eat anywhere in France outside Paris.
But, as prices have crept higher at La Petite Maison, I’ve been going less often, and I was also intrigued recently when a friend who happens to live just a couple of kilometres outside town tipped me off to this simple, contemporary bistro run by talented young chef Matthieu Charrier, who attended the esteemed École Ferrandi in Paris before deciding to strike out on his own.
Charrier scrupulously follows the seasons and sources his menu from local producers as much as possible, which means his inspired cuisine du marché is fresh, flavourful, vivid and intelligently inventive. Stopping by recently, we started with onions stuffed with mushrooms, then whiting with sweet potato fries and yoghurt sauce, and a poached pear with caramel for dessert.
The pretty and comfortable, sunlit dining room was the perfect setting for this remarkably good value meal (€22 at lunch for three courses), and service was charming and alert. They also offer an excellent selection of local wines by the glass.