aigues mortes boem interior2The majestic mediaeval fortified city of Aigues Mortes right on the edge of the Camargue is unusually well endowed with excellent restaurants and Boem is one of the best. logoClick here to book a hotel in Aigues Mortes

Aigues Mortes is not in Provence, strictly speaking, but just across the border in the neighbouring region of Languedoc-Roussillon. However this major tourist attraction may well be on your itinerary, even if you're based in Provence.

Once in town, most visitors will make a beeline for the imposing and elegant place Saint Louis, and its swathes of terraced cafes and restaurants offering variants of local dishes, usually featuring bull meat in some form or other.

Some of these can be very good. But the more interesting spots are a little off centre, such as Boem, tucked away on the bank of the Canal du Rhône à Sète, a five minute walk from the main square.

Its chef, David Blasco, trained in classic French cuisine at the Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Bocuse brasseries in Lyon before working in Australia and Asia. And Boem calls itself a "MediterrAsian" restaurant offering East-West fusion food.

aigues mortes boem terraceBlasco's approach goes for zesty combinations such as a typical Marseille bouillabaisse, prepared Thai-style with cocoanut and ginger.

You can't get much more French than frogs' legs (though in fact they're rarely seen on menus in Provence these days). But Blasco serves them with coriander and Yuzu, a Japanese lemon.

Boem's setting is idyllic and feels almost rural (the name refers to an exotic tree, incidentally). It's a slight shame that the canal path runs between the restaurant and the waterfront.

Still this also means you can be entertained by the passing parade of joggers and cyclists as well as the stream of barges and tourist boats. Come armed with mosquito repellent on summer nights.

The decor has gone a bit overboard (likeably so) with the oriental theme, from the outdoor terrace, pictured, lined with bamboo and orchids to the dark Zen interior dining room with its exotic hardwood furniture, Buddha statues, masks, candles and incense.

The very short menu changes daily so the lunch we sampled is unlikely to be on offer when you visit. As usual in France, the prix fixe (set menu) is top value, and prices rise sharply in the evenings.

A free plate of new season's olives arrived for us to nibble on while waiting for the meal. It's best not to over-indulge in these, though, as the portions which followed were all substantial.

aigues mortes boem starterThe starter, pictured, was stellar: a medley of sucrine (little gem) lettuce, Serrano ham, young asparagus, beetroot and a funny little squid ink flavoured brioche.

Dribbled with spicy vinaigrette and dramatically presented on a black plate, the bright colours and contrasting textures made for a delicious combination.

The main courses were less consistently successful (though still good). One was salmon with parmesan and wild garlic cream, celeriac risotto and carrots cooked in a wok with hazelnut oil. Here the parmesan overpowered all the interesting-sounding other flavours.

Pork in a very tasty red curry sauce turned out to be a little tough for a filet cut. Dessert was a well-executed classic chocolate fondant with walnut ice-cream and banana.

The wine list focusses on the regional wines of Languedoc-Roussilon: the local vino rosé by the carafe was superior, and modestly priced. Service was attentive but informal.

Boem has a very small car-park and there's limited parking on the canal path, so drivers should arrive early to secure a spot. And, to get the best of both sides of Aigues Mortes, why not precede it with an apéritif and / or follow it with coffee on the place Saint Louis?

Visited March 2016

Where: Boem, 253 avenue du Pont de Provence, 30220 Aigues Mortes. Tel: (+33) 4 34 28 42 30.


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