A Summertime Journey On The Road Through Provence With Daniel Boulud

Capelongue - Bonnieux
Capelongue – Bonnieux

Photo Credit: Daniel Boulud

Every summer, I take a couple of weeks off to journey from my hometown of Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, just outside of Lyon, to the heart of Provence and back. Starting in Paris, I take the train down to Lyon, rent a car and let the adventures begin.

After a pit stop at my family’s farm, I drive to a small town named Ampuis, just 30 minutes south of Lyon in the northern Rhône region. As a chef, I strongly believe in the saying that French cuisine is about cooking with the intention of drinking good wine, so naturally, this voyage across the French countryside takes us through some of the most emblematic wine regions. Ampuis is home to the exceptional Côte-Rôtie from Marcel Guigal, as well as some famous whites from Château Grillet or Yves Cuilleron.

DB ProvencePhoto Credit: Daniel Boulud

Continuing along the river and vineyards, cross over to Tain-l’Hermitage to taste the wines of Michel Chapoutier, followed by a picnic on the hill of the Chapelle Saint-Christophe, which boasts panoramic views of the valley. Going back across the Rhône into l’Ardèche, stop by the famous Domaine Jean-Louis Chave for Saint-Joseph before heading further south to the town of Cornas to try notable wines from Jean-Luc Colombo. The specialty of the region, caillette—a delicate pork meatball mixed with Swiss chard, herbs and liver, braised in the oven—is a delicacy worth trying.

I make my way down to Bonnieux, a historically fortified village perched atop the picturesque Luberon hills, and spend the night at Edouard Loubet’s Domaine de Capelongue, surrounded by fresh lavender fields. Dinner at La Bastide de Capelongue is a breathtaking experience where the flavors of Provence and onsite garden’s seasonal bounty are made into creative preparations.

Capelongue - Pigeonnet
Capelongue – Pigeonnet

Photo Credit: Daniel Boulud

Further south, I arrive at Château La Coste, a stunning property that perfectly marries wine, gastronomy and art. The hotel and spa Villa La Coste is also home to Gérald Passedat’s restaurant Louison, a genuine and passionate love letter to Provence, as well as Francis Mallmann’s wood-fired, soulful cooking.

As I drive back up toward Lyon, I land in Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the oldest and most beautiful villages in France. A stay at Baumanière, an idyllic five-star hotel in the middle of the garrigues, provides a true taste of the Provençal art de Vivre, from the warm hospitality to the charming setting. The Michelin-starred restaurant L’Oustau de Baumanière is a gem, offering authentic local flavors through a modern lens. 

Market Daniel BouludPhoto Credit: Daniel Boulud

Traveling in July means I can visit Avignon’s annual Festival, one of the oldest performing-arts festivals in the world. A detour at La Pyramide de Vienne is a must—an institution made famous by chef Fernand Point, helmed today by Patrick Henriroux and his wife. The restaurant’s creative cuisine has a contemporary approach but remains delicately rooted in French tradition.

Back in the heart of Lyon, I discover the latest exhibit at the Musée des Beaux-Arts inside a 17th-century abbey known today as Palais Saint-Pierre. A trip home also includes a mandatory stop by Les Halles de Paul Bocuse. Maison Pupier offers the freshest seafood, and I rarely leave without getting a sausage with pistachio and truffle in brioche from Charcuterie Sibilia. When I’m not at my family’s farm, I like to stay at La Villa Florentine, a boutique hotel located in a former convent atop Fourvière Hill in the Vieux Lyon district, overlooking my dear hometown where I’ll go dine at the new Daniel et Denise or one of my favorites, Le Président.

This region is the French epicenter of delicious food, incredible wines and impressive landscapes. These are just a few of my favorite summer destinations, and I hope they become yours, too.

Provence Daniel BouludPhoto Credit: Daniel Boulud