By Kevin Bonnaud
Flaveurs Restaurant in Valence old town
Flaveurs restaurant is in a paved shopping street of Valence old town near Place Saint-Jean where there is a market hall and a church with a bell-tower-porch built in a neo-Romanesque style.
The atmosphere within the restaurant is chic and warm with exposed beams and light walls. Baptiste Poinot challenges himself with hidden and imposed menus to avoid routine.
Customers do not usually complain about this bold risk-taking approach. They are struck by both the delicacy and the beauty of every dish proposed by the 37-year-old chef. Avocado smooth cream with young zucchini and crispy salted tart with Indian spices. Langoustine with black rice risotto, full-bodied sauce and oyster plant. Veal fillet with cheek confit, reduced cooking juice and seasoned vegetables. Manjari chocolate cremeux with mandarin light mousse.
La Cachette, hidden on the banks of the Rhône
A subtle association of flavors exalted by Japanese chef Isichi Masachi at La Cachette. A hidden place near the banks of the Rhone river just few blocks from the city centre.
On your way, make a quick detour to see the old town landmarks. St Apollinaire cathedral, Valence’s oldest monument, the art and archeology museum and the shaded Place des Clercs surrounded with bars, shops and charming pastel-colored houses.
The one-Michelin-star restaurant has a quiet terrace with ochre shades. A pleasant setting to enjoy a colorful creative cuisine made of molecular and traditional dishes with an asian touch.
Salmon with tomato soup, sorbet and jelly. Tempura squids (Japanese fritters) with soft Japanese pepper and aromatic leaves. Piglet with mushrooms, coco bean and potatoes. Sea urchin with jellied lobster bouillon (consommé) and red kuri squash chantilly. Small balls pears with sorbet and speculoos.
Le Carré d’Alethius in Charmes-sur-Rhône
Our gourmet tour ends in Charmes-sur-Rhône, 10 km south of Valence. The village is worth a stop. The town hall was partly built with the stones of a former medieval castle.
On top of the double revolution staircase, you see the sarcophagus of Alethius, a gallo-roman monument from the 5th or 6th century. Alethius was a notable from Lyon.
The funerary monument was found in the 17th century in Monplaisir neighborhood in Lyon 8th district. Aléthius is also the name of a local hotel restaurant (Le Carré d’Aléthius). The one-star chef has a pretty good resume.
Olivier Samin worked seven years with Anne-Sophie Pic in Valence, became her assistant-chef. He was part of the brigade when she won a third Michelin star. His restaurant, opened since 2010, has an irresistible outdoor terrace in a green patio.
The exotic journey continues inside the venue with stylized bamboos as decor setting the tone for dinner. Salmon confit, tartar of brown shrimp with Kalamansi (asian lemon) vinegar, fresh herbs and cocktail sauce.
Striped mullet, crunchy quinoa with olive oil, curcumine, red pepper, rice and an edible nasturtium flower. Free range pigeon, cooking juice made of candied shallots, raspberries and zucchini. Fruity dessert with financier pastries filled with cherries, cherry sponge cake, candied fruits, almonds, coffee cream, almond ice-cream…
Other Michelin-starred restaurants near Valence
In case you would want to taste all local starred restaurants, you can go to Michel Chabran 1-star restaurant in Pont de l’Isère, 10km north of Valence or Les Cèdres Bertrand, a 2-star restaurant in Granges les Beaumont just 6km west of Romans.
As you leave Valence, stop by the old Nivon bakery, founded in 1856, just few steps from the train station, to taste local specialties including a Suisse. It’s a shortbread (little) man cookie flavoured with candied oranges.
The biscuit is a tribute to Pope Pie VI who died in Valence in 1799 after having been jailed by Napoleon.