The south of France is obviously beloved for its Mediterranean cuisine and wine but if you want something different, it can be a little tricky to find. Here are a few much-loved places that offer a change from olive oil-based diets – ranging from gourmet dining to cheerful platters.
You’ll find Yojisu tucked down a road outside of the centre of Aix, close to many of the out-of-town retail stores. It’s been serving a faithful crowd who have been going out of their way to eat here since 1988. It’s often full of office workers during the week and families at the weekends. The decor is chic, the service attentive and the food beloved.
Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is South African by birth and now shares his culinary knowledge cooking fusion food in Nice. Originally from Middelburg a town in the northern reaches of South Africa, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen studied culinary arts and applied design in Stellenbosch, after which he worked for food publications both locally and abroad. He learned his trade working on boats before serving South African favorites like melktert and biltong in his 24-seater restaurant, Jan, near the Old Port. The lunch menu is €55 but that’s for three courses of gastronomic indulgence. He sometimes offers a two-course market lunch for €30 and has a new private dining room MARIA which can seat 24 people for fine-dining.
Le Pain Quotidien is a Belgian chain that is very well-known throughout Europe and has many branches in the U.S. It literally means “the daily bread”, which is what it provides to its customers in droves. The one in Aix is situated in Place Richelme, where the daily market is held, and queues for seats can be long — it’s best to put your name down, leave one unfortunate person from your group there to wait, and potter around the market. It does brunch, tartines (open sandwiches), salads, and eggs but its speciality is the Belgian waffles, which come complete with in-house chocolate spreads of varying kinds. The managers are friendly and the staff attentive. What more could you want?
Situated in the gallery and hotel complex on the Croisette (the Gray D’Albion), the Factory Cafe is the perfect place to stop for a small bite and a cup of tea or coffee. There’s a little outside sun terrace where you can sip your lattés watching the world go by. Perfectly central, very stylish and much loved. The menu is very heavily focused on salads and burgers.
The Longchamp Palace is a great local bar in Marseille that is as popular for its drink selection as its food. It has a lovely menu with Italian and Spanish dishes but on Sunday they do a lovely brunch. It’s a little off the beaten track – not far from the amazing Longchamp Palais, which houses the Museum of Fine Arts and Natural History Museum. There’s no set menu for the brunch so expect something different every week. A gem of a place.
Maison Nosh is a concept restaurant, where they’ve taken the classic hotdog idea and evolved it into chic, gourmet heaven. They sell two kinds of hotdog, a classic with cheddar cheese or a daily special. Try one of their English Muffins with salmon, tuna, chicken, or eggs, or opt for their breakfast menu of pancakes or chakchouka (the deliciously spicy, Lebanese tomato, and egg breakfast dish). The décor is clean, simple, and relaxed. They have two restaurants in town, so there are two brunch options. The one on Cours Sextius is €23, and has two sittings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The one on Cours Mirabeau is €18 and starts from 11 a.m. onwards. The menus are slightly different. It’s the new darling of Aix’s fast-casual restaurant scene and well worth checking out.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual but not a cafe, head out to the most famous beach in St Tropez, La Pampelonne. The beach was made famous by Brigitte Bardot and it’s a great place for a low-key burger and fries for brunch. The food is in buckets, the staff are friendly and the beach is amazing. It doesn’t have a website.