The oldest restaurant in town shows little sign of ageing.
When the auberge opened in 1860, the Suquet Hill district was still fortified. This, the old town stronghold, was where locals clustered when bad guys threatened offshore.
These days, the only invaders are happy tourists winding up the tiny Suquet streets in search of a decent meal. And, like quite a few other addresses in the district, the Auberge delivers the goods.
The unexpectedly large interior comes on just like a real country auberge, a warm warren of rooms in red ochre tones, with dark wood furniture and a big fireplace.
You’d think that you were in some upcountry village, rather than five minutes from the Med. Well, you would if you were inside. On the terrace you’re jammed in among holiday crowds who rather give the game away.
Practice makes perfect
There’s little surprising about the food. If you go to a place called the Auberge Provençal, it is not astonishing to be served Provençal fare. The thing is that, here, dishes like aioli (steamed salt cod, vegetables, garlic mayonnaise), aubergine gratin and sea-bass with wild fennel are done particularly well. As is the bouillabaisse.
Of course, one should expect no less. They’ve been practising for 150 years. If they hadn’t got it right by now, that would indeed be a sorry state of affairs.