western Provence the medieval village of Châteauneuf du Pape
reigns above the most productive and renowned wine appellation
in the southern Rhone Valley. The wine by the same name, created
by the Avignon Popes in the 14th century, has been
prized by generations of wine lovers and is recognized as one of
the leading legendary wine regions in the world.
this region rich in legends a new one is in the making. It is a
legendary restaurant where the tales, folklore and history of an
incredible wine live on. This legend is called La Mère Germaine.
Although it is called just a restaurant-hotel, it is a lot more
than that. It is the soul of this place.
“Châteauneuf du Pape,” roughly translated as "The Pope's new
castle," refers to the building (now a ruin) on top of the hill
overlooking the village that the Popes built and used as a
summer palace during period of the Avignon Papacy (1309 to 1376)
and the “Great Schism, ” when there were two competing Popes
(1376 – 1417). Forced to flee the political turmoil of Rome,
Pope Clement V, a Frenchman, and his French successor John XXII,
created this legendary wine by planting vines around their
château and producing some of the medieval world's most famous
spirit of this historic past continues within the walls of La
Mère Germaine, as it celebrates “all things wine.” The Popes
drank these wines hundreds of years ago -- and the passion for
them is even stronger today. And so it is fitting that this is
the place where today's local aristocracy -- the winemakers of
Châteauneuf du Pape and other renowned Rhone appellations -- can
meet on any afternoon or evening to eat, drink, talk, argue and
wheel and deal. It is the place where families come to
socialize, where wine critics and wine journalists from all over
the world, as well as local Rhone Valley characters and tourists
from around the world come to celebrate the wines of Châteauneuf
they just don't come to La Mère Germaine for the excellent
gastronomic food. They come for a warm atmosphere and a
Châteauneuf du Pape/Rhone Valley wine education through tasting
some of over 100 different great wines from the region on the
La Mère Germaine is a wine lover’s dream.
sadly, it almost didn't survive.
Mère Germaine was first opened in 1922 by Madame Germaine Vion,
the chef at the Élysée Palace (French presidential palace) at
the beginning of the 20th century. From the beginning it was the
center of village life.
in 2010 the place closed down. The owner had financial
difficulties, the quality of the food and service was low, the
morale of the staff was glum. André Mazy, the general manager
for many years, had quit. It was a “ship without a rudder.”
André, however, did not want La Mère to sink. In early 2011,
after the former owner had completely gutted the restaurant and
kitchen, André bought the place! After months of planning
renovation and hiring, La Mère Germaine began to come back to
life. By May 2011 the doors were reopened, to the relief of the
Châteauneuf wine industry. Today La Mère Germaine once again
shines as the “soul of Châteauneuf du Pape.”
you arrive at La Mère Germaine, the first person you meet will
be André. With a big smile, easy laugh and insightful
understanding of your needs, André (in French, English, Spanish
or Italian) will bring you an aperitif. Perhaps it will be a
small new wine discovery. Or perhaps a local liqueur. After you
settle in to the beautiful dining room or, in warmer weather,
the sumptuous terrace overlooking the vineyards of Châteauneuf
du Pape, André will fill you in on the latest wine gossip and,
of course, tell you about the menu and “André’s Special Wine
Selections of the Month,” a special list of excellent but lesser
known wine from the region at moderate prices. From there on you
will have an afternoon or evening of culinary bliss.
Should you happen to be thinking about going to France for your
next vacation, schedule a trip to Châteauneuf du Pape, and you,
most definitely, need to make a reservation for lunch or dinner
at La Mère Germaine. You may love it so much, you will want to
book a room overnight or for a few days. Whatever you decide,
André will be there waiting for you
November 5th, 1964, in Toulouse, André (Dédé to his friends) has
survived various forms of hardship and struggle throughout his
life. But it's never stopped him from living it! He never knew
his birth parents, and he lost a best friend at a young age.
These types of traumas, devastating as they would be to anybody,
perhaps also set him on his life path. Things got better: he was
able to attend the Sorbonne in Paris and finish his studies at
the University in Aix-en-Provence. After that there were
adventures traveling throughout the world – United States,
Australia, Thailand and beyond. He had more lucky breaks along
the way; meeting the right people at the right time... it was
clear that André was going to be a success.
Owning a restaurant,
however, was not at the top of his list nor even on his mind.
Indeed he originally wanted to be either a police commissioner
or a priest, as he felt that his mission in life was to bring
justice to the world. And yet he always found work in
restaurants, whether as a waiter at a 3 star restaurant in
Paris, managing a restaurant in the Pyrenees, or food and
beverage manager at the top hotel in Bangkok.
late 2005 André found a position as manager La Mère Germaine.
It soon became clear this was his calling. He became passionate about the
village, the wines and the restaurant.
2010 the place had to close. The owner had financial
difficulties and was not able to keep the place going. He
completely gutted the restaurant and kitchen. It remained
shuttered for over a year. André knew he had to save this most
important home-away-from-home to so many in Châteauneuf. After
intensive legal wrangling, he finally realized his dream -- and
bought the place. The rest is history.