This article originally appeared in The Daily Meal and has been edited for The Weekend In Paris.
A quick trip was in order to Aix-en-Provence for the Christmas markets before attending the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes. The Market is where I catch up with latest news from industry leaders in upscale hospitality. A couple of nights at the Esprit de France Hotel Le Pigonnet left me with a great taste of Aix-en-Provence.
The accommodations are delightful and the ambiance wonderful, but it is the cuisine that makes this boutique hotel truly spectacular. When traveling, I try to pack as many different restaurants as I can into my hectic schedule; however, after the outstanding lunch I ate at Le Pigonnet, I was reluctant to “dine down” in the evening, so I double-dipped and had dinner at the hotel as well.
Every course was as pleasing to the eye as it was to my palette. As the French say, “you taste with your eyes first,” and this is certainly true of the beautifully plated dishes served here.
Brightly colored, crisp vegetables were the jewels on the plates. Simple sauces and fresh products cooked to perfection were seasoned flawlessly.
The dining room was packed with both locals and guests of the hotel on the Friday night I dined there. I took it as a great sign of approval that so many native folks patronize this restaurant when there are many other great options in town.
Service was splendid — attentive, but not overbearing. The sommelier did a fine job of choosing wines to marry our individual tastes with the variety of courses we selected.
There is no doubt that chef Thierry Balligand will be seeing stars in his future. My advice is to make a reservation early for the next time you visit Aix-en-Provence, before everyone discovers how remarkable this petit Esprit de France boutique hotel truly is.