Written June 20, 2013.
Barcelonnette, a quaint mountain town situated in the Ubaye Valley in the French department Les Alpes de Haute Provence, makes a great base for exploring the hiking trails in the surrounding mountains. While its small old town of just a few streets of colorfully painted edifices can be walked in 10 minutes, as a ski center catering to both skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts it has a good hotel and a number of friendly restaurants.
The town has an interesting connection to Mexico due to a large emigration to that country between 1850 and 1950. In the early 1900s the returning emigrants built “villas” on the edge of town which were called maisons mexicaines.
Hotel La Grande Eperviere, with plenty of parking and about a 5 minute walk to town, is located in one of these “villas”. Aside from a few photographs in the room of scenes from old Mexico, very little otherwise suggests a feeling of Mexico. The exterior is a colonial bell-époque style while the interior has a very functional motel kind of feel. Still, the rooms are clean and spacious and the service friendly. The rooms to the back and, I would guess, all the upper level rooms have mountain views.
Breakfast at 9 € is a cut above the usual overpriced French breakfast – a great cheese and charcuterie selection, flakey croissants served along with the usual, fruit, cereal, yogurt, etc. Only the coffee, instant out of a machine, disappoints.
On a quiet Monday evening in mid-June it was only us and one other couple on the front terrace of L’In’Attendu, located on a quiet street a block or so from the busier central square. The limited menu has more vegetable and fish options than at some of the other restaurants in town. The food was fine but not great. We started with the vegetable terrine and the salade landaise with gesiers (gizzards), Roquefort and walnuts.
For mains we both had the vegetable wok with cooked-to-order fried fish sticks served over noodles. The vegetables were a bit overcooked and the sauce was completely unremarkable with no distinguishing flavors.
On Tuesday evening a pass through the central square and surrounding streets reveled that only the Trip Advisor #1 rated l’Abri had much of anything going on. And even then, while the terrace was near capacity at just before 8pm, by 8:30 many of the tables had cleared.
The casual yet tastefully decorated terrace seating with dark wood tables and wicker chairs has a convivial ambiance. Service is friendly and efficient. In addition to the popular thin crusted pizza fresh hot from their wood burning oven, the menu also offers a selection of pasta and meat dishes. We started with the green salad – not well cleaned and gritty; and the gazpacho soup – great tomato flavor with a drizzle of pesto oil. For mains we tasted the anchovy and caper pizza – as good as expected; and the lamb chops – while cooked a bit more than I had specified were juicy and flavorful.