With our car the small hunger stirs. The navigation system in the car wants to send us wildly through the area, so that we can give our ride its 95-98. I then spontaneously decide to use Google Maps and navigate Josh. You can guess what happens? We actually find a third of the gas stations we are looking for!
The first gas station at the end is only accessible on foot. Up the steep slope and then somehow onto the highway gas station. Funny, why didn’t Google direct us to the gas station? Yes, she would have been on the right side, too. Only 100 meters lower, it is not accessible without climbing equipment. We keep looking, the next gas station is on the main road. And is smaller than the sign announcing it.
And just occupied by a motorist who has great difficulty in using this gas station. That’s why we’re going to the next one. It is to be located in a triangle bounded by the forking main road. Despite restrictive one-way traffic regulations, we manage to approach the triangle from each side. There is no gas station there. So we drive back to our midget gas station.
Josh excitedly notes that you can select “German”. You can, but nothing happens. Everything remains Italian. Except for the language selection menu. In fact, the credit card reader works. Not with the first card. But with the third. We fill up the tank and only then do we realize that we would have expected higher fuel costs. 1.774 for Super is not that much at the moment.
Rip off on the slopes
We find our way back to the highway, pass the gas station we could have actually taken on the highway and find out that the private highway operator or the operators of the gas station demand a 50 cent higher price from their customers per liter of fuel. It’s a dirty trick to monetize your own “local advantage” on such a huge scale. For families going on vacation by car, that easily adds up to 30 euros for a tank of gas.
Then we cross the border to France. And please, dear Italians, don’t take offense at this. I would feel the same way if I were entering France from Germany. Or from wherever. So if you get the feeling that I don’t like Italy, then excuse my unclear writing. I love Italy. But I love France just a little bit more.
Landscape, localities and light. I find that especially the change from the Cinque Terre to the Côte d’Azur makes a significant difference in the view from the car. French highways also appear much more modern and well-maintained, but they are also – to be fair enough – at least perceived to be more expensive than their Italian counterparts.
Today we will have a good time, the destination is Arles, the largest municipality in France by area. With a population of around 50,000, there is already a lot of infrastructure, yet Arles has the charm of a small sleepy “nest” in the south. Arles became a bishop’s seat as early as the 3rd century and after quite a bit of hick-hacking with Ostrogoths, Burgons and even Romans, the archbishop finally emigrated to Aix-en-Provence in frustration. Arles fell to France with the county of Provence in 1481 and remained the bishop’s see until 1801. (Source: Wikipedia, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arles).
In Booking I quickly and spontaneously decided on l’Hotel Particulier, because for me it simply very much represents the France of small and medium-sized towns, which I love so much. I always set the sorting on Booking to “best rating first”. Of course, this is not an objective sorting by hotel class. But sorting by where was most likely to exceed guest expectations. Because that is how the rating stars are to be understood. This time we are in the more upscale price range, the rooms were between 200,- and 300,- Euro.
We were received nicely. And after moving into the rooms, they sank into the courtyard. I ordered a bit of baguette (the Frenchman knows the word baguette, of course, but orders “pain” (=bread)) and cheese. With a glass of white wine. Later, the super nice owner invited us for another round. We almost didn’t make it out of this courtyard.
Sluggishly we torture ourselves to the dinner
But then we would have missed the “Grand Café Malarte”, a recommendation of the hotel owner. Rated only 4.1 points in Google, 4 points in TripAdvisor. We were a little skeptical. Moreover, “mal arte” is let’s say an unusual marketing statement. But felt attracted by the super nice interior design and the heating mushrooms at the seats.
Two nice tattooed ruschbart hipsters served us. We first ordered a glass of white wine. Which somehow didn’t please our Rauschebart. He suggested bringing a small sip to taste first. He was right. Shudder. Since he obviously knew more about his wines than I did, I asked him to just bring the red wine he would drink.
And then it started. Of course, we ordered the Charolais beef. I can only tell you: A treat! I actually don’t like the fat in beef either because it often has such a “rancid” taste. And here I have also nibbled away a lot.
But consistency, taste and texture were just great.
The ordered Bernaise sauce clearly drew the short straw here, it was not bad, but just not good enough for the excellent beef. And even the potato products tasted so nicely of potato that the rather sour Bearnaise sauce no longer found a use.
So: meat can they in the “malarte”. And phenomenally so. I would rather order Bearnaise sauce elsewhere. But: I don’t need them here either!
Since our hipster team had meanwhile taken off towards Olympus in my esteem, I sheepishly asked for a dessert recommendation. Then came, you won’t believe it: tiramisu.
Italian sanctuaries after the main course?
I said that I had never ordered a tiramisu in France. And he said: Then you do it for the first time today. Me jokingly: Only if you bring me another panna cotta.
A short time later, both were on the table. Josh had ordered a panna cotta with caramel. I can’t gloss over that, so I’ll leave it collegially uncommented. So I was left with the hard fate of trying both desserts.
And there is, of course, a lot of responsibility: the Italian dessert – sanctuaries. Served in France. On plates with the tricolor. So the French … So, what can I say … After I accused the Italians in the penultimate part of defacing the French croissant. Now how do the French do with the two main Italian desserts?
Drum roll …
Unfortunately, dear Italian friends, surprisingly good! Both desserts are, rather unusually for France, too sweet. So noticeably too sweet. The tiramisu has an almost perfect consistency. Maybe I’m imagining it, because for me French cuisine involves a relatively unrestrained use of butter, but I think I can still taste a hint of butter through the mascarpone cream, which doesn’t really belong to it.
The panna cotta is perfect in terms of craftsmanship, but lacks the final touch in terms of taste. The raspberry fruit topping is also more of a thin sauce poured on top of the jellied cream.
It would have been nicer if there had been a fruit mirror with fruit pulp on the plate. Which would also have been better matched in taste to the panna cotta.
If I had to draw a conclusion: the meat was among the best of my life. The Italian sweets I have clearly eaten better, but that is now complaining at a high level. Overall, the bill was very reasonable in relation to what was offered.
For now, let’s let the Italians take the crown, at least with their desserts. And are pleased with the excellent overall package in France!
Back in the hotel we disappear to the rooms, a larger group of ladies in the mature age from Dallas had already inquired, which of us would be married.
The rooms are tastefully restored. Many old elements are preserved, others are replicated. A real feel-good atmosphere and with the rooms you get the feeling that they are thinking, “You just come too, we’ve seen a lot of you …”
French breakfast – hossa!
Breakfast should cost – hotel typical – 26 euros or something like that. We therefore decided to walk briefly to the main road. And to look for a cafe.
Finally and for the first time on this trip, we wanted to eat a good croissant! We had a choice of two cafes on the main street, just around the corner. We chose the branch of Meinado, a small regional chain that produces and sells patisserie of really high quality.
I ordered – just like in Italy – two croissants, two cafés, two pains au chocolat and two Oranginas. In addition, a raspberry tartlet. The invoice amount was the same to the cent as in Italy: 20.30 euros.
There was no strawberry jam either. But anyway, the croissant was great! The cupcake gorgeous! And the Orangina as expected.
A truly enjoyable breakfast. In the sun in Arles. Live like God in France!
Tomorrow we continue with Barcelona!