Les Roches – Aiguebelle
September 26, 2006
September 21 and 22, 2006, we stayed at Les Roches, a luxury hotel at the border of Aiguebelle and St. Clair east of Le Lavandou on the coast between St. Tropez and Toulon. We had reserved a deluxe room, which was okay, but not really what I expected at the price, particularly since the hotel had recently been closed for a year for renovation. It had a balcony with a table and two chairs overlooking the sea and the Ile du Levant in the distance. We slept with the seaside door open and the sound of the waves on the rocks below was relaxing. There is a small pool and sunbathing area below, which also seemed inadequate for this category. Breakfast can be served in the room or on the lovely edge of the hotel terrace. There is a good buffet set up, but the price is an amazing 25 € @. I guess that is 5 € for the breakfast and 20 € for the setting. One problem is that in little Aiguebelle there are no alternatives. There is a similar situation for those who want a convenient, inexpensive place to stay when dining at Le Sud. There are several basic beachfront hotels, but they can be hard to get into in nice weather and are closed afterwards. Only the very basic Hydra stays open all year.
The second night we ate in the restaurant at Les Roches, which has not regained the Michelin star it lost during the closing. We had already had our apéritif on our lovely balcony: a half-bottle of lousy champagne from the mini-bar. We were served five nice hors d’oeuvres and then an amazing amuse-gueule: a mason jar with a substantial portion of foamy brandade, olive oil croutons and fresh thyme. Our first course was equally ambitious and successful (for us): chunks of a foie gras terrine in a warm foamy bouillon of lentils with wild mushrooms and a slender tartine with generous slices of truffles. Our main courses were more ordinary: Linda had some small uninteresting pieces of rabbit and I had slices of duck with gnocchi, chestnuts and a rich brown sauce. At that point we were full and did not order the cheese tray, although it looked good, or a dessert, but they brought us friandises. There was a menu offered at 62 € with a specified starter, fish, pigeon, cheese and dessert. There is also a 95 € surprise tasting menu for the whole table. While our amuse-gueule and our first course gave us the impression that the chef might be trying to get his star back, everything else showed that they were not that ambitious. The à la carte menu was quite limited. And they are dealing with the quirks of a holiday hotel. The elegant, elderly man next to us was appalled by the presentation of the foie gras so they took it back and gave him a conventional slice of foie gras en terrine which made him happy. The service was friendly and efficient. The sommelier was pleased that we ordered the 1999 Domaine de Trévallon and served it lovingly. www.hotellesroches.com.