Our stretch of the EV8, with the major exception of Draguignan towards the eastern end, is largely a rural affair. Very often the route skirts villages rather than passing through them. All the same, there are a number of cafés and restaurants along the route that are relatively easy to reach. Here we give the low-down on those that we have sampled so far, plus some others we’ll be checking out in the near future.

Jouques - Aux Deux Saveurs

Jouques - Aux Deux Saveurs

Nous nous sommes arrêtés deux fois à Jouques pour manger. La première fois, nous avons acheté une quiche chez Groues Jean-Marc. Elle était très bonne ! C’est l’une des deux boulangeries de la rue principale. L’autre, Didier B, a également reçu de bonnes critiques.

Lors de notre deuxième arrêt, nous avons déjeuné au restaurant Aux Deux Saveurs. C’était une journée très chargée, il n’y avait qu’un seul cuisinier, donc le service était très lent. La sauce créole n’a rien de spécial, mais le menu est varié et pas très cher. Les portions sont généreuses, et vous pouvez manger sur la terrasse couverte de l’autre côté de la rue. Entrées autour de 12 €, plats de 17 à 27 €. Tel: 06 29 17 87 18

Il y a également de nombreux commerces dans le village, dont une banque, une pharmacie et un petit supermarché Spar. Tous ces établissements sont situés dans la rue principale, le boulevard de la République. Il y a quelques places de stationnement pour les vélos sur le boulevard du Réal, en face de la bibliothèque locale.

PHOTO : Un dimanche chargé au restaurant Aux Deux Saveurs

Rians - La table de Cupidon

Rians - La table de Cupidon

La Table de Cupidon is just 500 metres from the EV8. Located on the northern side of the village, it is handily placed as the cycleway also skirts that side of Rians. We were unable to find any dedicated cycle parking.

The food is generally well presented, simple and fresh, but varies in quality. As is often the case in our region the starters prove to be the most interesting dish. We ate courgette flowers in a light batter (€8.10) and gambas mandarine (€8) as a starter, followed by black Angus entrecôte (€19.80).  The wine list includes a very pleasant local rosé from Chateau Pigoudet, l’Oratoire (€24). These prices are fairly typical of the whole menu.

You can reserve a table online, or phone 04 89 67 91 71

PHOTO: Black Angus entrecôte

Esparron - Bistro École

Esparron - Bistro École

The Bistrot Ecole is a café, restaurant and small grocery shop, located in the heart of the village of Esparron, in the old village school building. At just over a kilometre, strictly speaking it is more than 500 metres away from the EV8. Moreover the short climb into Esparron is daunting. But it is well worth a visit. Chef Grégory and his partner Alima have created a unique little gem, serving amazing creations (see the menu). Prices are great – you can get a three-course lunch for €22, or €26 evenings and weekends. The wines on offer are equal to the food, including some local vineyards.

There’s an interesting review by food critic Jacques Gantié (in French) here. Note, the bistro is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as Sunday evenings.

Tel. 04 94 80 10 53 and 06 37 14 95 66.

Barjols - Near EV8

Barjols - Near EV8

If you are riding our recommended route, you cannot miss Gervasoni. The boulangerie is right on the cycle route, just along the street from the old Barjols station. The baguettes are just as you want them, and the patisserie offers a wide range of tartes. They also serve pizza slices and other savoury items as well as coffee. Like many boulangeries in France, they are open from early in the morning (5am) until mid evening. They have a couple of tables outside where you can sit and eat.

PHOTO: Outside Gervasoni

Barjols - Near EV8
 

Barjols - Near EV8

If you turn north at Gervasoni towards Tavernes, there is an Intermarché, a CIC bank, a good local butcher, a chemist, a small pizza restaurant, and the organic shop Domaine des Roseaux. As well as selling their own organic wine and olive oil, they have a good selection of local organic fruit, veg, cheeses, and meats. They also sell local artisanal products, which make great presents for your friends and family. They are open Monday to Saturday 09:00 to 12:15 and 14:00 to 19:00. All these establishments are just 500 metres from the EV8. You also pass them if you use the signed route from Varages to Barjols (which we do not recommend!).

Barjols - Village Centre

Barjols - Village Centre

If you are heading down into the village of Barjols, there is a wide choice of cafés and restaurants. The Café d’Europe dominates the central square, offering classic cheap and cheerful French food and drink. It’s open every day from 6am to midnight, and is generally a lively venue. Just along the path is the Cercle de l’Avenir bar. They only serve drinks, but the atmosphere is more convivial.  Still on the central square, Ben & Nat has been getting rave reviews from our friends. So of course we had to test it out. We were also bowled over by the creativity behind the food, the good selection of local organic wine, the price, and the lovely warm welcome. Strongly recommended. A three course lunch costs just €19, evenings are à la carte, with mains around €18. The restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings and all day Wednesday.  Tel: 09 73 51 05 65

PHOTO: Tartelette au caviar aubergine, courgette marinée au citron confit (Ben & Nat)

Barjols - Village Centre

Barjols - Village Centre

Over on the Place Capitaine Vincens, outside the Mairie de Barjols, are three small restaurants with very different menus. Verte Fontaine, who serve some great salads, Popote et Tambouille, who speciality is home-made hamburgers, and Chez Chiffon, who serve a fixed menu that changes from week to week. It serves Italian, French, Indian, Moroccan, and other international food. You get what you get depending on the week you visit.  Also in Barjols is the restaurant in the local hotel, Le Pont d’Or. When others close for winter, Pont d’Or is always there. Traditional family-run French restaurant at reasonable prices. Cycle parking in Barjols is conspicuous by its absence. The central area has just been tarted up at great expense, roads resurfaced etc. But still cyclists have to use a lamp post or railing to lock their bikes. In most cases you can just park your bike outside where you are eating.

PHOTO: A typical main course at Chez Chiffon

Pontevès

Pontevès

If you try out our Pontevès boucle between Barjols and Sillons-la-Cascade, you’ll pass the Rouge Gorge. Bénédicte and Fabrice have been running this family hotel and restaurant since taking over from Fabrice’s mother Christiane. It’s in a lovely, quiet location, and when the weather is fine you can enjoy your meal on the terrace or around the swimming pool. The à la carte menu is limited, and a three course meal can cost anything between €30 and €50. But Fabrice’s fine French cooking shines through. Tel: 04 94 77 03 97

PHOTO: By the pool at Rouge Gorge

Sillons la Cascade

Sillons la Cascade

The kitchen at Grand Chêne might not be exceptional. But for cyclists travelling the EV8, there is nowhere more convenient, the food is good, and the menu is reasonably priced. We like its good selection of local wines, its offer of free charging of electric bikes, and its very special crème de safran. And it’s right on the cycleway! Portions are very generous, especially the starters, so you won’t go hungry after a day’s cycling. There’s no fancy presentation here (check out the photo!). Menus cost €23 for 2 courses, €30 for 3-courses and €33 for 4. You can view the menu on their website.

We left our bikes outside to charge as we ate. A leisurely 2-3 hours eating gave the batteries a 50% top up. For overnight stays, Grand Chêne also has four rooms. Prices and details available here.

PHOTO: A typical starter at Grand Chêne

Salernes

Salernes

Other than a coffee at the Café des Négociants, we have yet to enjoy what Salernes offers. But there is plenty choice both on the main square in the centre of the village, and farther out on the road east. Directly on the EV8 is the Intermarché supermarket. Open Monday to Saturday from 08:30 to 19:30, they offer sandwiches and other bakery items. Handily placed for stocking up on food if you are camping. There is a Lidl just off the EV8, alongside the old station buildings. If you follow our recommended route into Salernes from Sillans-la-Cascade, and continue down the D560 instead of turning right, there is a Casino supermarket and 3 restaurants at the roundabout at the bottom of the hill.

PHOTO: Intermarché is right on the route of the EV8

Mentone

Mentone

Mentone is a tiny hamlet on the EV8, between Salernes and Lorgues. As a railway station it served the nearby villages of Entrecasteaux and Saint-Antonin-du-Var. Also on the cycleway is the impressive Chateau Mentone, the only Accueil Vélo establishment on our stretch. We stopped for lunch on one of our rides and really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. And of course you can also sample their own organic wines. You get a simple choice of 3 starters, mains and desserts, but the quality is top notch. We paid (in 2021) around €35 each for a 3 course meal and a couple of glasses of their own wine.

Opening times: March & April: open from Thursday to Sunday for lunch and from Thursday to Saturday for dinner. May & June: open from Wednesday to Sunday, at lunch and from Wednesday to Saturday at dinner. Tel: 04 94 04 42 00

PHOTO: The day’s menu at Chateau Mentone

Saint Antonin du Var

Saint Antonin du Var

Right on the EV8 outside this small village is a small caravan serving créole tapas and other food and drink. The food truck Les Laulau is only open from April to September, but is the only snack bar that we have found specifically serving the EV8 in our area. We shared a €15 créole tapas and it was more than enough for the two of us. The Corona beer went down very well on what was a warm April day. A great place for a stop along the way.

PHOTO: The EV8 passes right next to Food Truck Lau Lau.

Draguignan

Draguignan

As you travel east into Draguignan, you hit the town centre at Boulevard Maréchal Foch. The route takes you right, but straight ahead is the partially-pedestrianised old town. Here there are multiple cafés and restaurants, away from the busy traffic of the main boulevards. Notable is the 1000 Colonnes, the third oldest brasserie in France. They serve classic French food like escargots de bourgogne and tartare de boeuf, as well as salads and some vegetarian dishes. Prices are average. Salads are around €17, mains between €16 and €25. The 1000 Colonnes is open for lunch only Tuesday to Thursday, and also evenings Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Back on the main streets, and right on the EV8 in the centre of the town is the Brasserie du Commerce. This has the great advantage of a row of cycle stands right outside. A less expensive option, the Commerce serves standards like hamburgers and pizzas, as well as French classics like Andouillette and Entrecôte grillée. They also serve a range of shellfish dishes. We tried their fish platter – a generous serving, though quality was nothing exceptional. A three course set meal costs €18.50 or €35. See their menu for more details.

PHOTO: The fish platter at Brasserie du Commerce

Les Arcs

Les Arcs

With cycle parking right alongside, the Café de la Tour is a handy place to get something to drink or eat before heading down to the train station. Situated on the main square, opposite the Office du Tourisme, the café has earned an Accueil Vélo label. It offers water bottle filling, battery charging and toilets to cyclists. They also have chess sets which you can use during your visit. Open from 07:00 to 19:00 (to 15:00 Saturday, 16:00 Sunday, closed Wednesday), they offer a breakfast menu in the morning and a range of meals at lunchtime and later. We ordered a large plate of charcuterie and a beer in the middle of the afternoon, a time when some restaurants stop serving. At €14 it was very reasonably priced.

PHOTO: Cyclist-friendly Café de la Tour and nearby cycle parking

Background photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash