In the last years of the 19th century, Arles conquered the heart of Van Gogh, who was fascinated by the light and the vivid hues of this wild landscape. An immense district of unspoilt nature, Camargue is enclosed between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône delta, and incorporates salt pans, marshes, ponds and rice fields: a riot of colours and views, where man still seems to be a temporary guest. Just 12 kilometers south of Arles, La Chassagnette is nestled into a secluded area of an ancient sheepfold, transformed into an eco-friendly contemporary farmhouse and a gourmet restaurant. Three hectares of vegetable gardens, greenhouses, beehives, orchards and a breathtaking terrace covered by an arbour: new things have been developed over the last years keeping the original garden in mind and considering the restaurant as the final link of a big supply chain.
“Le coeur de tomate tiède” (warmed tomato heart). It reveals the expertise of the chef and seems absolutely appetizing: a mouthwatering rainbow paired with hummus and a mixture of salads and herbs, a simple yet efficient result behind which a complex preparation is hidden.
The long path to plant-based cuisine came in stages for the 1 Michelin-starred chef Armand Arnal. The first stage dates back to his childhood: since his great-grandmother had a greengrocer’s stall at the Montpellier market, he was already familiar with vegetables and was used to eat a lot of them at home. The second stage is represented by his 8 years’ experience working for his mentor Alain Ducasse, who was the first chef to introduce vegetable-only menus in his restaurants at least 15 years ahead of current trends. And the last step in this lifelong evolution was the arrival at La Chassagnette and the discovery of its garden. He fell in love with this place in 2006 and soon understood that this unique location did not require any new concept to be developed: the respect of its original spirit was enough to make it stand out.
He works with an essentially plant-based seasonal cuisine, finding inspiration in the garden that is located less than 20 meters away from the kitchen and offers over 200 varieties of organically and sustainably farmed produce, including fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, both of local and exotic origin. The products that are not grown here come from small Camargue farms located nearby the restaurant and express the identity of this intriguing region. Every morning the harvest of the day is hand-picked by the chef-gardener at its best freshness and ripeness, ready to create the magic in the dishes, in which the great innovation is his use of vegetables as the stars on the plate and not as side courses. Also flowers play a key role, as they are used as decorations to give an additional touch of beauty.
Delighted by the garden’s bountiful natural ingredients, the chef skillfully leads the guests on a refined, evocative journey, rich in delicious flavours. A good example of this richness is an iconic recipe that has been recently shared on IG: “Le coeur de tomate tiède” (warmed tomato heart). It reveals the expertise of the chef and seems absolutely appetizing: a mouthwatering rainbow paired with hummus and a mixture of salads and herbs, a simple yet efficient result behind which a complex preparation is hidden. It is served in both types of menu: the Vegetal one, real speciality of the restaurant, and Fauna&Flora, in which vegetables are accompanied with a local selection of meat and fish. Apart from this exception, the chef has no set recipes, since he is driven by his experience and instinct, and prepares creative savory dishes that are always surprising, often astonishing, playing not only with acid notes by using home-made vinegars, but also with different consistencies and temperatures.
The offer of the restaurant is extremely wide: at lunch a 5-course menu is proposed in both options, at dinner the choice is enriched by a 7-course menu. Only on Saturdays and Sundays from May to September, guests will be ravished by the outstanding picnic basket to be enjoyed directly in the garden, while listening to the sounds of nature like cicadas and birds. La Chassagnette represents the perfect oasis where everyone feels welcome from the very first moment: the venue hosts different events to let people live through the unparalleled atmosphere. Many special guests are invited on numerous occasions: other renowned chefs for exceptional four-hands dinners, wine producers for tasting events, musicians for concerts… Focused on offering the best meals thanks to the finest farm-to-table ingredients, the chef Armand Arnal and his genuinely warm staff will delight your taste buds and all your senses for a global unforgettable experience immersed in nature.
Photo credit: La Chassagnette
As a professional English, German and French to Italian translator and interpreter certified by ANITI, DVÜD and SFT and with over 16 years of experience, Ileana Cari helps premium businesses create exclusive experiences for their target clients through a localized, unique, finely-tuned message. Her translations are a bridge between two cultures, aiming to communicate the value of a brand with the right inspiring words and therefore contribute to its success. She is specialized in luxury market segments, like beauty, fashion, hospitality and wellness.