Bistro de France
For me, this is the quintessential town bistro. Its individual elements (Formica tables, Naugahyde banquettes) may not be particularly attractive, but those motley parts add up to a beguiling whole. The restaurant was spiffed up a couple of years back with a marbled trompe l'oeil façade, but it remains humble at heart. According to owner-chef Jackie André, the Bistro de France is one of the oldest bistros in Provence, built where a bicycle shop and a café stood back in the twenties. The meals here are good the way the best home cooking is: fresh, unadorned, and generously served. There are black truffles in the winter, melons in the summer, and cèpe mushrooms in the fall. With its seasonal specials and menu classics such as crespéou, a layered Provençal omelette with herbs, spinach, and zucchini, and old-fashioned blanquette de veau—the ultimate bistro comfort food—the Bistro de France always plays to a full house. The crowd chez Jackie is a congenial mix of local businessmen, happy tourists who chose well, and real estate agents dragging along potential clients to show them a bit of local color. There is a daunting rush for tables after Apt's sprawling Saturday morning market, and disappointed shoppers are often turned away. Reserve! 67 Place de la Bouquerie; 33-4/90-74-22-01; lunch for two $60; closed Sunday and Monday.
Linda Dannenberg is the author of New French Country (Clarkson Potter). She has written for the New York Times, Departures, and House & Garden.