L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

09 November 2006 Blog Home : November 2006 : Permalink

Replete 4 Cheap

One of the local blogs (lost link sorry, but probably Angela) talked about how the problem with this region if France is that it isn't "La France profonde", that it is to say it's tacky, touristy and failes to provide the authentic French experience. This is true but there are still islands of proper France here and there and one of them is the restaurant just around the corner(ish) from our house.

This restaurant, the Auberge St Donat, is not a restaurant for tourists - although it feeds a fair few in the summer - it is a restaurant for the locals and, in particular, the manual labouring locals: builders, plumbers, diggers up of the roads, mechanics and the like. Within that crowd it is famous for miles around due to its value for money deal (4 courses plus wine and coffee for €13.50) and good service.

When we had our new kitchen installed, the head maçon was asked by the gar where they were eating for lunch - his response was something like "L'Auberge St Donat, naturellement" and in the half hour between noon and half past the restaurant fills up with a clientele that is about 90% male and 75% wearing grubby jeans, flourescent jackets or similar attire.

What they come for is the two-choice, high calorie, low price menu. The first choice is what drink do you want, and for most people boils down to "Vin Rouge ou Rosé?" - in fact some of my acquaintances nickname the place the "Rouge Rosé" for this reason.

Today,as the photos above show the menu was Tomato and Mozarella Salad, Egg Cocote, Beef with Courgette Gratin and a choice of Dessert (the other choice - two out of four choices shown), plus coffee. The wine is included in the price, if you decide to be awkward and drink beer or poncy mineral water then you probably pay extra.

I am STUFFED. The wife is REALLY STUFFED. The wallet is barely emptier than it was this morning and our meal this evening is going to be very simple...

If you want to be picky, then I admit the beef could have done with a tad more tenderizing, and the nicotine allergic will hate the air. Also I have no doubt that the wine snob or the (Atkins) dieter will find much to complain about.

But you will experience the real France and get a great meal into the bargain. The only caveat is that if you get there after about 12:30 and/or are a party of mroe than 2 then a reservation is strongly recommended and parking at that time can be a little tricky. Diners who show up at the crack of noon avoid these issues.

A pleasant walk of about 45 minute-1 hour duration with pleasant views of olive trees, the Grasse valley, the coast and the Esterel may be had either to work up an appetite or to walk off your meal afterwards. From the restaurant head towards Grasse and then take the Chemin de Masseboeuf (small road with a no-entry sign for cars) down to the left. When you reach the canal de la siagne turn left and walk along it. Cross over the busy D104 and continue on the canal until the next road. Turn left up the steep hill, turn left at the T junction at the top and continue a more gentle ascent to the next roundabout. Turn left again and you are back at the Auberge.

Location and contact details
Phone: 04 93 60 10 07.
Location: rte Valbonne (D4), Plascassier - on the roundabout with D104 to Mouans Sartoux.
From Valbonne - follow signs to Grasse. Stop when you see the Auberge at the roundabout.
From Grasse - follow signs to Valbonne. Stop when you see the Auberge at the roundabout.

From Mouans Sartoux - follow signs to Gare, then Plascassier. Go up the hill and stop at the top.
From Anywhere else - get a map.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin