La Chassagnette – Arles, France

Welcome to this isolated hidden gem, 15km from Arles, and off the beaten path, in the middle of the French countryside – the only organic Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe – La Chassagnette.

This delightful one-Michelin-starred, farm-to-table restaurant has its own garden and offers seasonal organic cuisine. Given that vegetables here are at the centre of all creations, I can confidently say that this restaurant is a vegetarian’s heaven (which is not a description I would use for any other French restaurant!).

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After six years at Alain Ducasse’s Essex House in New York, chef Armand Arnal opened La Chassagnette in 2006, earning his first Michelin star in 2009.

His cuisine revolves around the daily harvest from the restaurant’s sprawling backyard garden and orchard, and is guided by his fluid interpretation of the dynamic of the region, practically guaranteeing a new experience for his guests at every service. With no set recipes and flavour for experimentation the food is unsurprisingly bold and colourful.

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The menu is set, and for lunch ours was limited to five courses (not that you need any more!), and also the vegetarian option is only available for lunch. The prices range from €55 to €115 without the drinks.

I am not one who spends too much time on bread, but “OMG!” the bread was so delicious – my mouth salivates just thinking about it.

The dishes were so beautifully plated and decorated – culinary art pieces. Simple flavours and fantastic ingredients – this is the best way I dan describe the dishes on our menus.

We were given a beautiful private table for two in the garden where the atmosphere was bright, modern and unpretentious. It almost felt like we had gone over to a friend’s house for a relaxing lunch and a few bubbles under the shade of the backyard garden.

I feel like French restaurants have a very persistent reputation for rude and unaccommodating service, however, those are the last two words I would ever use to describe the team at La Chassagnette – service was very courteous, and unobtrusive.

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La Chassagnette started what it refers to as – Les Invités – a series of guest collaborations with amazing chefs from all over the world.

We were very lucky to be able to beg our way into a lunch on one of the two dates the Pakistani-born, two-starred chef Sylvestre Wahid was guest for the day and got to experience his five course creations. What can I say, the pictures speak for themselves – dazzling, unique and above all – incredibly delicious.

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As a matter of opinion I would say that going there for lunch (rather than dinner) is a more enjoyable experience because you get to appreciate the beauty of all the nature surrounding the restaurant, as well as enjoy a post-meal walk around the garden. Also, there are fewer mosquitos during the day… and don’t be fooled, there are mosquitos lurking behind every corner! 🙂

One of the coolest features on the restaurant’s website is that you can enter the date of your visit and there is a calendar of what fruits, vegetables and herbs are in season and ready to be harvested, which in turn gives you a little hint about what you might expect in your dishes.

 

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