On this bright Tuesday, I have to tell you this story. It’s about this incredible little hidden gem of a restaurant on the beach l’Aiguille in Theoule-Sur-Mer on the Cote d’Azur…
Take a good look at the beach. To the right is the little restaurant L Aiguille in all it’s rustic charm. Read on for the story…
So—as Atypical60 friends know, Bonaparte (I promised him I would not use his given name of Lartigue. Oops!) grew up in Paris and spent his summers in St. Tropez. While spending his summers in St. Trop, he was extremely familiar with the surrounding areas.
Since 2011, we’ve been renting an apartment in Theoule-sur-Mer. Theoule is a great coastal town on the outskirts of Cannes, and about twenty minutes away from Nice airport.
I never ever, ever take my visits to Theoule for granted. The visits are magical for me.
From the time we arrive to the time we return to Paris, the doors to the terrace are always opened…..
From the second I step onto our terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, to the time we lock the front door and start the countdown to the next year, I am in a totally blissful frame of mind.
The view that we wake up to and enjoy many dinners!
I am also in Paradise. My arms usually have welts from all the pinching I do to myself—and not in a destructive way either. OK?
Honestly, I DO have to pinch myself because every day here is a great hair day! Hardly any humidity! THE perfect place to vacation!
Every summer brings a new adventure or a new discovery. This past June was no exception.
Through researching local places that we hadn’t yet been to, I came across a little beach and the little but hugely recommended restaurant. Both named “L’Aiguille.
During our daily travels and errand runs, we passed the busy part of town that houses the parking for the beach at L’Aiguille but never gave it much thought. Our routine is simply to drive to our favorite beachy “spot” in Cannes—we’ve been going to the same beach for years, spend time there then head back to the car and do our sightseeing.
When I discovered L’Aiguille and the restaurant, I mentioned it to Bonaparte. The conversation went something like this…
Me: “Hey, lookit this restaurant! It’s at the very tip of plages L’Aiguille. “Isn’t this that beach that’s near the bottom of the hill?” “The one by that stop light as we go into Cannes?”
Bonaparte: “Casseee. Whaaa ahr ou tikking abou? Zhat bitch eezz too crouw-eed” “Ou see zuh pip-oul togezzzehr crouw-eed lik leeuhl sardeenz ull zuh teem!”
(Translation: “Cathe. What are you talking about?” That beach is too crowded.” “You see the people together crowded like little sardines all the time!”
Me: (bringing him over to the computer screen). “No. Look! This beach is to the RIGHT of the crowded beach. “”It’s beyond that little parking lot”.”We REALLY need to go there”. “Let’s look for it”. “OK”?
Bonaparte: “Wee see”. “Wee see”…
Basically, “We see” means that I get my way.
What we didn’t realize was that the restaurant is way, way, way, at the far end of the beach.
It actually took two attempts to find it.
The first attempt was Bonaparte stopping at a large villa that he thought was the restaurant. He told me everything was boarded up and closed.
I didn’t believe him and made the second attempt.
What a way to start a search! The walk along the beach was so relaxing!
I walked along the beach—and immediately fell in love with the charm of the thin-as-a-needle beach itself. I passed by a snack bar. I passed by boats anchored in the bay.
With a vista like this, I almost didn’t want my search to end!
I passed by the crisp and clear view of the snow-capped Alps in the background.
I walked some more!
I passed this on the way! Could it have been a “lavoir” from days gone by?
I spotted an incredibly rustic little building. Not a shack. But not a fancy restaurant either. My interest and curiosity was now highly piqued!
I walked in. This, was, in fact the elusive Restaurant L’Aiguille! I found the buried treasure!
The interior was simple and no-nonsense. Tables were being set up outside the far end of the outside of the building on the beach! The tables inside the building were covered in lovely floral tablecloths. It was almost as though I was walking into the back porch of a summer home! It was inviting and warm!
A woman was inside setting up the tables. The greeting I received was friendly. I made an attempt at speaking my less-than-stellar French
Me: (In the best French accent I speak)”Bonjour Madame”. “ Je voudrais une réservation pour le dîner. Pour deux personnes s’il vous plait”
Madame: “Quel jour”? “Quelle heure?”
Me: (smiling in my “special” way while pausing to think. Bonaparte and I had decided earlier on that Thursday would be a good day for dinner. I got my days mixed up….). “Um…Samedi”. “Um..(Figuring out that goddam military time…thinking—what’s 7:30 PM?) “Dix-neuf heures trente. S’il vous plait!!!!!”
This woman must’ve thought I was nuts because I was so excited that after about a pause of five-minutes I was able to figure out the time! I gave her Bonaparte’s last name. She pointed to “Table Cinq” (Table 5), which was next to an open air window that had a spectacular view of the beach, Cannes across the bay, and the Alps in the background. I “Merci’ed” profusely and, happy as a child, made my exit.
As soon as I stepped out of the restaurant, I spotted Bonaparte. He must have thought I got lost. I proudly told him I made the reservation for Samedi at dix-neuf heures trente. He calmly told me I made the reservation for Saturday instead of Thursday.
Back to the restaurant. This time with Bonaparte in tow to correct my error—and all was fine and dandy!
We ended up hanging at the beach at L’Aigulle the next day…
Early in the morning. The only noises were the sounds of water hitting the boats and the rocking of the boats on the water!
Bonaparte concentrating on the view. This is a rare photo. He’s usually laying on the towel sleeping while sunbathing!
My pedicured feet–moments before running into the water!
Thursday came and all I could think about was dinner. I could not wait to sit my big fat American ass and my big fat American appetite at that table by the beach!
Who knew that the best meal I would have in my life would have been in a rustic, non-assuming, non-pretentious, little family-owned gem of a restaurant on a little beach that was just down the road from the apartment we’ve been renting for five years???
Herve, one of the friendly and efficient wait staff of the best little restaurant on the Cote d’Azur!
The “roof” was the sky…and later on the stars shone down on us!
View from our table at the restaurant. It was so relaxing and calming!
Another wonderful view!
Isn’t this the perfect setting for a meal?
We were both blown away. I’m telling you—we both spent the remainder of our time in France talking about how great our dinner at Restaurant L’Aiguille was.
Bonaparte started off with the Rosquetta a la Valancienne. A tartine of sorts with a tomato confit, jambon, and a side salad of mesclun. This was incredible…
I started off with a salmon tartare and a mesclun salad. WOW! Nothing was left. Not one crumb!
Bonaparte ordered his favored “Entrecote and frites”, which by the way he raved about. He said the frites were the best he’s had! Trust me–he’s had a lot in his lifetime!
THE. BEST. DISH. I’VE. EVER. HAD. IN. MY. LIFE!!! Grilled Seiche a la plancha! This grilled Cuddlefish came with an aioli so freakin’ great that I could have frosted a cake with it! The parslied sauce was just as great! Honestly, looking at this brings tears to my eyes. I love this meal so much I want to send it a Valentine’s Day Card!
Oh–and we made room for dessert too! Bonaparte had this beautiful strawberry tarte!
I had an amazing vanilla panna cotta topped with a raspberry confiture and almonds. It just does not get better than this!
The evening sky through the sky roof!
View from the table as the sun was setting!
Where else can you enjoy a great dinner with this kind of view? An end to a great evening!
We also both decided that we would be back next summer—for repeat dinners. Yeah. DINNERS and lunches!
A couple of weeks later, back home and still dreaming of the return to the restaurant, I received a message on Facebook. Cedric, the proprietor was reaching out to patrons to sign a petition. The petition is to stop the restaurant from being demolished.
Apparently the restaurant is set to close due to the erosion of the beach and to protect the environment. But yet, an actual “snack” bar will be replacing the restaurant.
Aiguille has been in the same spot for 25 years. 14 people are employed there.
The news of the closing just struck a chord with me. Not wanting to bring this back to me..but…
I know what it is like to lose something that you work so hard at. Due to a divorce, I lost the house that I turned into a much-loved home. It is gut-wrenching to lose a home. It affects everyone in your family. (I’m lucky that I met Bonaparte just after this happened!)
I know fully-well, what it is like to lose a job. It sucks. The only difference is that the French government takes much better care of their unemployed than the American government takes care of our unemployed. I know this. I’m unemployed.
Anyway, it really made me sad and I signed the petition. Being very emotional about this news, I also wrote to “Nice-Matin”, a local newspaper covering the news and goings on throughout the Cote d’ Azur. I wrote about what was happening to the restaurant and very politely asked them if they could perhaps write a story.
Last night I received word that Nice-Matin was going to visit the restaurant.
I was so touched by this that it made me a bit misty-eyed. Bonaparte was incredibly touched as well, but also proud of my small effort to help!
It made me happy to know that I was able, in just a small way, to contribute to the plight of this lovely and wonderful restaurant.
What will the fate of Restaurant L’Aiguille be? I certainly hope a solution can be made to keep the restaurant in business—there are always ways to work out issues and it would be wonderful to once again, sit by the sea and repeat that best meal of my life! It will be even more wonderful to allow a family to save a livelihood that has given pleasure to so many people over the years. It will keep the staff employed.
Sometimes we need to try to help others. It doesn’t have to be a grand effort. We don’t need to send monetary donations. Sometimes it’s a gesture. Sometimes it’s just emotional support.
Let’s find some way to help others. Even if it is just in the smallest way. OK?
Adam, hair colorist and stylist extraordinaire, helped to make me look human today by doing my roots and giving my a great blow out. Thank you, Adam, for helping this old lady look a bit less old!
Here’s a song to “Help” put you in the mood! “Help”!!!! XOXOXOXOXO