Tag Archive | Easter road trip

Restaurant Review: Fou de fafa (Avignon, France)

My partner and I went on a 6-day road trip last Easter, visiting 2 countries (France and Spain) or 5 towns/cities and more than 12 restaurants. Without a doubt, this was our favorite restaurant in the entire trip.

I’m normally not a fan of number 1s in tripadvisor because they fail me most of the times. In fact, this is the first time I actually think the number 1 restaurant deserves to be the number 1.

Fou de Fafa is located in the Old the Town. We were staying at Hotel Avignon Centre Palais des Papes and it was just less than 10-minute walk from there. The location was pretty convenient for us.

Restaurant fou defafa

The photos here don’t justify how really good the food were. First was the wine option. My partner has issues on sulfites so we asked for a recommendation from the host. She recommended a bio/organic pure Merlot wine and it was very good. Then, there’s the food. The moment we had our starter, warm goat’s cheese wrapped in a pastry wrapper, we knew the rest of the food will be excellent. For the main course, I had the lamb wrapped in aubergine with mashed potato on the side. The aubergine was nicely seasoned, the meat was so tender, the mashed potato and the sauce balanced the flavours. For dessert, I had a chocolate cake – it was so good, I almost didn’t want to share it. The 3-course meal cost EUR 36 plus the bottle of wine we had. It’s a very reasonable price.

The host speaks fluent English and very welcoming. She took her time in explaining the menu and answering our questions.

Restaurant fou defafa

I know the common complain about this restaurant is that they weren’t entertained because they did not have a reservation or they were turned down because there were more than 4 of them. Three things about restaurants like this:

First, it’s a small restaurant with maybe even less than 15 tables. The empty tables you see probably belonged to someone who made a reservation but coming at a later time. I appreciate the fact that they don’t over book so that their guests won’t have to rush on their dinner because other people need the table.

Second, if I’m not mistaken, this is the type of restaurant who gets their meet and vegetables fresh of the market every morning. Meaning, they only stock fresh ingredients; therefore, they are precise as much as possible on the number of plates they can serve that day. I’ve been to several restaurants like this and I say it’s a style. Again, this style maybe the reason why they limit the amount of plates they serve per day. Quality over quantity – this is why the food was excellent!

Lastly, why not allow big groups? Aside from the food, what I really loved about this restaurant is its environment – it’s not loud. No background music, guests don’t need to shout at another to be heard, even the host spoke softly… it has a chill environment. I don’t know if this is the restaurant’s reason for limiting a party to 4 or if it’s more for logistics reason in the kitchen but whatever it is, not having a big loud group creates a lovely dinner environment.

restaurant fou defafa

Restaurant Fou de fafa is located in Avignon’s Old Town (17 Rue Des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon, France). Reservation is a must (in case I haven’t emphasized that enough). You can call them at +33 4 32 76 35 13 or write to them at restaurantfoudefafa@gmail.com.

Hotel Review: Hotel Barcarola (Van Der Valk Hotel Restaurant Barcarola)

Hotel Barcarola (Van Der Valk Hotel Restaurant Barcarola)

Hotel Barcarola (Van Der Valk Hotel Restaurant Barcarola)

As part of our Easter road trip, my partner and I drove to Costa Brava, Spain to enjoy the sea. We stayed at Hotel Barcarola in Sant Feliu de Guixols. We stayed in this hotel for 2 nights.

Location/Accessibility (4/5)

Sant Feliu de Guixols is an hour far from the busy and touristy Barcelona and about 30-minute drive from another tourist hot spot, Girona. I honestly don’t know how one can reach this area without a car or via public transportation. I see this as an advantage though as it really gives you a “city break experience”. With this, it will not be fair to give the hotel a low accessibility rating; therefore, location-wise, the hotel is conveniently located close to the beach. It is not immediately right next to the beach but it is like 60-seconds walk to the beach. I prefer this because the main street immediately right next to the beach or the beach front has the restaurants and bars. I imagine this can get pretty busy and loud in the summer.

Important note: the reception is located in the restaurant. I know that sounds weird but the reception, breakfast room and restaurant are detached from the actual hotel. The reception and the restaurant is located across the hotel and on a street corner and has a big sign. The parking area is just across the hotel’s restaurant/reception (it’s an open air/outdoor parking).

Hotel Barcarola's reception and restaurant

Rooms and Facilities (3/5)

We had the luxury room with balcony. It is by far the largest hotel room in Europe that I’ve stayed at.  It was clean and the bed was comfortable. The bathroom was huge too. I enjoyed the balcony as it gave us view of the sea.

What I didn’t like is that if you need water in the middle of the night, your only chance is the vending machine by the hotel entrance that didn’t work sometimes. I’m not sure if the reception can do that or if room service will be available (I highly doubt it). I guess that’s the inconvenience of having a detached bar, restaurant, reception, etc. If you need anything from them, you have to walk across the street.

Staff and Services (2.5/5)

The staff were very friendly. However, they seemed unorganized when we were there.

I also got a wine and bodega package to surprise my partner. According to the package, it includes a bottle of cava, a visit to a bodega (I assume that’s a cave or wine cellar) or an olive orchard and a “welcome drink” in their Tucan beach bar – which is located at the beachfront.

After checking in, I was expecting the cava in our room but there was none. I thought that maybe they will bring it tomorrow. We were also given 2 vouchers for the welcome drink in their Tucan beach bar. We asked if the bar has a particular opening hour, considering the siesta practice in Spain. The receptionist said the bar is open all day. It was 7 pm, which is too early for dinner in Spain so we decided to just grab an aperitif at the Tucan beach bar. It was close. The bar was closed the entire night. The following day, we mentioned to the reception that the bar was closed last night but she insisted that it was open. When the bar finally opened, we were told that the welcome drink is only beer. For non-beer drinkers, there goes your free drink.

When we checked in, I also asked the reception how the bodega or olive orchard tour works. The receptionist said we should just tell her when we want to do it and they will do the necessary arrangements. The following day, we told the reception we wanted to do the tour the next day. She explained to us that she’ll see if the olive orchard is open since it’s a holiday. I explained to her that we obviously paid extra for the package (room rate is from EUR 60 per night while we paid EUR 139 per night for the same type of room). Later on that day, the receptionist rang us to say that they’ve booked the tour, gave us the name of the olive orchard, was told that we can research the exact address in the internet or come by the reception and she’ll give us the flyer. So basically, the “olive orchard visit” in their package is just ringing up an orchard and you drive yourself to the place. The tour is free and the transportation is not provided… so, I don’t know what they charged us extra for.

Lastly, that bottle of cava almost didn’t happen. Again, I had to ask about it at late in the afternoon on our second day at the hotel. The reception told me I had to ask for it (they don’t automatically put it in the room).

Security (3/5)

Apparently, there was an access control on the hotel’s main entrance where guests have to use their room key cards. I only learned about it on our third day because the door just automatically opened in our entire stay.

Price (2.5/5)

According the hotel’s website, the average rate per night for their luxury room is EUR 60. We paid a total of EUR 278 for 2 nights or EUR 139 per night. For a 3-star hotel with a package that technically only had breakfast, 2 beers and a bottle of cava, it’s not a good deal.

Overall, I rate this hotel 3/5. It’s a nice 3-star hotel with a good location. It can potentially be a reasonable hotel – just don’t get the package. It’s not worth it.