Chef Matthieu De Lauzun travelled the world before settling in the hinterland of Pézenas. Via his grandmother’s kitchen in Morocco and after several Michelin-starred kitchens and trips to Asia, he decided to open his own restaurant. Not just any restaurant, but one to show the world what he is capable of. And that’s a lot! His inventive and beautifully dressed plates exceed all expectations and are worth a detour. First in Guignac and now at the Priory Saint-Jean de Bébian, where he has retained his Michelin star ever since receiving it in 2010.
Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian
Restaurant De Lauzun’s location adds to the wow factor. Once the monastery of winemaking Cistercian monks, The Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian now hosts De Lauzun’s restaurant and a fanciful hotel. The chapel dates from 1152 and still stands strong, surrounded by one hectare of vineyards dotted with stately cedars and centuries-old olive trees. But the wine estate’s history goes back even further. It is said that the vineyard was offered to a Roman centurion called Bébianus in the first century. It was his reward for 25 years of dedication to the Roman battles. Traces of archaeological finds prove the Roman presence.
Cushy and spacious
Chéri and I knew little about the estate’s history, making it even more special now I do know. Regardless, we stopped and admired the atmospherically lit courtyard before entering. A hearty reception welcomed us and guided us to our table for two. The restaurant is housed in a voluminous part of the estate with high ceilings, sturdy beams and tall stone walls as a base. Yet, Matthieu and architect Raymond Morel succeeded in creating an intimate dining room garnished with some statement pieces. Elegant set tables were dotted around in a way that it felt cozy and spacious at the same time.
Poetic and well-balanced
Foodwise, Restaurant De Lauzun’s concept is simple. Chef Matthieu guides you through his childhood flavours mixed with inspiration from his many trips. He cherishes every memory, from his early youth to worldwide expeditions, and translates them into poetic and well-balanced dishes. Therefore, you can only choose the number of courses you want to have, four (85 euros), five (95 euros) or eight (125 euros). You can also choose a wine-tasting menu to go alongside your meal and add even more flavour (respectively 39, 49 or 69 euros).
Symphony of flavours
We could taste the chef’s enthusiasm in every serving. Although we went for the five course option, it felt like we had ten different courses. Even looking back at the photos I took, I get confused by the number of dishes. Therefore, I won’t describe every regalement, as it would take a whole other post. You can take my word that it was excellent in every aspect though! Our feast started with three appetizers, followed by two starters, each including three dishes, two mains and two desserts. And let’s remember the three handsome treats to go with our coffee and tea too. Every course was a symphony of perfectly orchestrated flavours and original tastes. I think the next time Chéri and I go, we should book a hotel room to fully experience this special place.