The Amateur Gastronomer spent the month of August in Provence, France. This is one of a series of articles on the region.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: the best ice cream in western, or perhaps all of Provence. But you have to promise not to tell anyone so it won’t get too crowded and lose its charm.
This hidden gem is called L’Art Glacier. And hidden is a good way to describe it, as you’d likely only hear about it from a local. It’s in between the towns of Ansouis and La Tour d’Aigues, about a 15 minute drive north of Pertuis which is a town about 30 minutes north of Aix-en-Provence.
I was taken there by my host parents in 1998, when I spent the summer living with a French family in Pertuis. When planning my trip to Provence this summer I was thrilled to find out L’Art Glacier was still around.
As the name implies, at L’Art Glacier ice cream making really is an art. All the ice creams and sorbets are made on site with fresh local ingredients by husband and wife Michel and Sigrid Perriere and their son Olivier. On any given day there are more than 30 flavors to choose from, with additional flavors that change with the seasons.
I remember from my visit in 1998 that finding L’Art Glacier was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately they now have a website with directions. Still it’s an adventure to get to, up and down long, winding roads through vineyards and a final steep uphill drive. I recommend driving east from Ansouis, where you’ll find a few signs to help guide you in the right direction.
This off the beaten path location helps make the experience. When you arrive you see right away why L’Art Glacier is so special — it feels as if you’ve been invited into the Perrieres’ home, with an incredible view of the valley below.
L’Art Glacier isn’t a normal ice cream shop where you order your scoops and then walk away. Here there is table service, which of course you won’t mind because you’re seated in an outdoor garden looking out at the countryside.
When my husband and I arrived on a warm and sunny afternoon in August, I immediately noticed some differences from my visit in 1998. Word had apparently gotten out about the exceptional ice cream, as there were many more tables and most of them were full. The menu had expanded too — in addition to the dishes of ice cream there were milkshakes and floats.
My husband and I decided to share a dish of eight flavors. Choosing just eight from the list was a bit challenging, but eventually we settled on a good mix: chocolate, hazelnut, nougat, passion fruit, Grand Marnier, lavender, honey from Provence and basil.
The presentation hadn’t changed since my first visit. The assortment looks so pretty you almost hate to dig in. The balls of ice cream are adorned with whipped cream, fruit and edible leaves made from sugar. We discovered later much to our delight that the ice cream sat on top of a giant meringue cookie.
The taste was even better than I remembered. Each ice cream was more delicious than the last, and I couldn’t get enough of the non-traditional flavors. Despite being full as we scooped out the ice cream-soaked meringue, I wished I could order eight other flavors to try.
Though a bit skeptical on the long drive in, my husband agreed — L’Art Glacier is worth a special trip.
For information on L’Art Glacier including directions visit artglacier.com.