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“Sensual but unpretentious dining that reminds guests that their host is a family”from the book La Colombe d’Or
What a pleasure it was to have a chance to dine again at one of the truly spectacular restaurants in the world during our visit to St. Paul de Vence, La Colombe d’Or. Over the years, this restaurant and Inn has become a temple to art, food, and the art de vivre or the art of living. A meal here is completely satisfying on many different levels.
Back in the early 1920’s, the aspiring artist, Paul Roux opened this Inn and restaurant in an ancient building at the foot of the ramparts of St. Paul de Vence. Roux enjoyed the company of his artistic colleagues and often allowed them to dine in exchange for art. With his generosity, delicious meals and hospitality, this became a favorite spot for many of the artists painting in the region.
Paul Roux died in the early 1950’s but the traditions he established live on. His son Francis and daughter-in-law have continued to operate this tranquil mecca. Over the years, the restaurant has become quite a famous spot to see and be seen along the Côte d’Azur. Read more details on the history here.
All are welcome to peek in this window of the solid garden gates, to the sunny terrace that seats 100 people.
La Colombe d’ Or is a place where guests are encouraged to linger over their meals and the peaceful setting. They only book one seating per meal so that guests never feel rushed. As a result, reservations can be hard to come by.
We were happy to have a seat inside the gate.
and beneath the umbrellas.
We chose to start with their specialty, a rustic crudites. The basket of vegetables are presented au natural with a side of flavorful anchovy sauce in which to dip.
This would be so easy to serve at home, and a little self-serve opportunity always helps guests to relax and interact. The basket comes with a few sharp knives, so everyone can cut and trim their vegetables to their liking. There are always a couple of hard boiled eggs in the basket as well, in case someone needs a protein fix.
I think the raw artichoke is intended to be more of a decoration.
The other famous starter is a selection of regional tastes brought to the table in small ceramic containers to be shared. These might include baked Provencal tomatoes, beans, anchovies, roasted aubergines and peppers.
The house wine was a wonderful accompaniment to the coming meal.
served upon this gold crested china featuring an illustration of the village.
The cuisine is very simply prepared and presented, with an emphasis on fresh, regional ingredients. I loved my lunch of a cold poached cod, garnished with sea grass, simply steamed vegetables and boiled eggs,
with plenty of glossy, garlicky aioli on the side. Click on the name for our recipe for aioli.
My fellow diner had a flavorful steak with an outstanding sauce béarnaise and a tender side of potatoes daupinoise. Click on the name for our recipe for sauce béarnaise.
Now, for the visit inside these hallowed walls.
We found a familiar face, in the cozy bar area, where the seats are padded with glove soft leather cushions.
Wouldn’t you love to nestle into these banquettes in front of the fire on a cool autumn evening?
Or to dine by this fireplace, filled with a roaring blaze?
In addition to wonderful food and demonstrating the “art of living”, La Colombe d’Or is known for their unique private modern art collection, some pieces are by the Paul Roux, some were given in exchange for meals and rooms.
The juxtaposition of modern pieces in an ancient setting is a theme seen throughout the village, and beyond.
No matter how many times I have the chance to gaze at these pieces, with the privacy and proximity, I always feel a bit awestruck.
The first painting is by Paul Roux, the artist who started this “colony” and who’s family still runs the institution today.
This Picasso is perhaps the most famous piece.
But there are many other wonderful works including a couple of Calders
and this lovely drawing of a a woman’s face by Matisse.
Years of traffic have smoothed and polished these stone steps to la toilette.
Back out into the sunshine, for a sip of the famous orange liqueur of the restaurant.
In addition to dining, La Columbe d’Or has13 rooms and 12 apartments. Click on the name for more information.