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Posted 01-10-2018 by Sally Guillaume
There's much more to a great restaurant than just the food it serves. As with many other experiences, a gastronomic one does not only depend on the cuisine but also on the experience - the people you're sharing it with, the atmosphere in the restaurant, the waiters' kindness (or lack of it!), the place itself and its environment.
At Undiscovered Mountains, both our personal experiences as locals and the constant feedback we get from our clients help us find the greatest places for unique gastronomic experiences. Whether you're looking for a romantic dinner, a place that's perfect for families, or the best value for money restaurant in the area, we'll be on hand to give you the best tips!
The three places we're going to tell you about in this article combine delicious food using as much local produce as possible, dedicated 'foodie' owners, and a unique environment. Each of them is also clear proof that mountain food is far from being just meat and potatoes ...
LE VAL DES SOURCES
Claude and Colette, the couple who own this venerable hotel-restaurant in the Valgaudemar Valley, don't care too much for global travel websites, though the reviews written about their establishment are all laudatory. They don't really need to! Their reputation of excellence is the fruit of a constant professionalism, a passion for their area's history and culinary traditions, and a true love for everything that makes food good for you: ancient varieties of vegetables grown locally, mountain trout farmed metres away from their hotel in the pristine waters of a local stream, meals based on the seasonal harvest, etc.
What all well established and self proclaimed "good restaurants" proudly promote on their menus nowadays, the Val des Sources has been doing for decades (since 1965, to be precise!) discreetly, far away from all trends, and with true conviction.
With menus ranging from 22€ to 38€ (beverages not included), a meal here is one of the best value for money gastronomical experiences you could ever dream of.
In addition, a meal at the Val des Sources is as educational as it is delightful. Claude has a unique knowledge of the local culinary traditions and is always happy to share it with his customers. And, a meal can quickly turn into a fascinating saga if he starts telling you - when bringing a good "génépi" digestive at the end of your meal - about, say, the long history of mountaineering in the awe inspiring Valgaudemar Valley, nicknamed the "Little Himalayas"!
All in all, a dinner (or lunch!) at the Val des Sources truly is one of a kind, and we can't recommend it highly enough! The Val des Sources (logically) features in our popular Gourmet Alpine Walking Holiday!
AUBERGE DU MOULIN
Seen from outside, this unique restaurant looks like somebody's house. That's probably because it is somebody's house. It is run by two sisters who live in the Auberge! The Auberge du Moulin is nothing but an ode to local and slow food. The whole setting (an old farmhouse, a big tree in front of it casting a shadow over a few tables, the vegetable garden a few meters away, the hen house a bit further) may remind you of your grandmother's house if you were lucky to grow up in the countryside.
If you're there for lunch in the summer, you'll be able to sit outside. If you're having dinner, you'll drink a home made apéritif under the big tree and then enter the dining room. There, the deco is both rustic and feminine, and the tables are few (it really is necessary to book if you want to have a meal at the Auberge du Moulin). The two sisters work on a new set menu every day, depending on their inspiration and on whatever is available at the time of year - all you need to do is sit back, relax, and wait for your plates to be served!
The first course (fresh salads, vegetables of the season) is always a delight, and the main course is always poultry (remember that hen house?). But poultry by and large allows a huge range of succulent culinary combinations - don't go there if you expect chicken nuggets! As for dessert, it is the only time you get a choice! The wine list offers both classic French wine and regional production, and the waitress will give great advice on how to best pair it with the meal of the day.
The set menu (beverages not included) costs 29€. Everything from the warm welcome of the two owners to the beautiful and peaceful environment, makes this gastronomic experience both uniquely authentic and authentically unique!
At the very end of the road, nestled at the foot of a spectacular mountainous environment, stands the picturesque village of Prapic. It is so remote that the old locals, when they refer to someone from Prapic, say "(s)he came out of Prapic", rather than "(s)he was born in Prapic"! The whole area is really stunning, and is one of the best places in the Champsaur Valley to spot the iconic animal of the region, the lovely marmot!
The Auberge Prapicoise, right at the entrance of the village, is an old, traditional auberge and a great place to discover - or rediscover - some delicious specialties of this part of the Alps. Rest assured, it does not serve any marmot meat - though some people do eat it! The Auberge is one of these places where you get the best of both worlds: quantity and quality! Don't expect any type of food that's not either a local specialty or that comes from a few miles away.
The chef is very talented at turning traditional hearty mountain food into elegant and refined cuisine, from first course to dessert with a glass of the local "génépi" liquor to top it off at the end! And if you haven't tried the Champsaur Valley's most famous specialty (the iconic "Tourton"), the Auberge is probably the best place to try it.
Whether you eat in the cosy dining room on a cold November evening or out on the lovely terrace when the sun shines high in the summer sky, a meal at the Auberge is always a true alpine gastronomic experience. And because the surroundings are so awe inspiring, we highly recommend you combine a lunch there with a walk on one of the many paths that leave from Prapic, either in the morning (always a preferable solution: better temperatures, less tourists, more animals!) or in the afternoon as a digestive stroll!
Prices vary from 15 to 29€ for a 3 course menu, which makes it one of the best value for money restaurants in the area. And between the meals themselves and the mountains around you, probably the most instagramable one!
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