For the youngest, it’s the Café du midi. For the older ones, it was “at Gaby’s”. A bar. An appointment. An institution in the heart of Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Facing the Place de la Liberation, the establishment has been welcoming its customers since 1900. The Taladoire family is at the helm.
Former mayor of the town, Honoré Bareste created the establishment at the beginning of the last century. Sixty years later, the grandson, Gabriel, takes over with his wife Marie-Thérèse. The couple is working to relaunch the business after a short parenthesis in management.
“When they resumed, there was “dégun”, image Jean-Claude Taladoire, son of Marie-Thérèse and current owner. The lady who was there before was a bit special. »
The future mayor had made it his HQ
The family relies on an unexpected helping hand to boost the business. “There were municipal elections shortly after my parents arrived, continues Jean-Claude. Monsieur Escalier showed up and made coffee his HQ. drew a crowd.”
The presence of the one who will be mayor from 1961 to 1983 has its effect. The Café du midi is relaunching. “Escalier came in the morning and said to me: “Child, make me some stuffed. I’m coming to eat at noon!” », recalls Marie-Thérèse, well known by the nickname “Mimine.”
The Taladoire couple expand their business. Makes it evolve. The clientele is local, accustomed. It must be said that we feel good there. The former boss and her husband, Gaby, are not idle. “We opened early and closed at three or four in the morning. We worked twenty years without closing a day! In the evening, customers played boules opposite, lit by car headlights.” The duo serves their salads until 11 p.m.
From Churchill to Schumacher
“When we were kids, we came to watch television here, recalls Jean-Claude, already behind the bar at 16 before taking over with his wife in the late 80s. We had the first television in Tourrettes, in black and white! It was full when there was the wrestling match [rire]. We also had belote contests. The reputation of the bar even goes beyond the town, when two customers return from vacation in Norway with a local book whose front cover is a photo… of the Café du midi.
From the pans-bagnats of “Mimine” to the anecdotes of Gaby, everything is prepared and distilled with kindness. The business prospers, the stars stop there. Winston Churchill, Guy Bedos, Georges Moustaki, Jacques Martin, Michael Schumacher, Jean Alesi or the painter Andrew Mac Donald are passing through (read elsewhere). “Churchill made canvases, he painted the village. I still see him with his cigar, he was nice”, confides Marie-Thérèse, who keeps referring to her husband who died a few years ago.
The Taladoire family has not abandoned the case, however. The institution is holding up. “On a big day, we can make up to 130 covers in one lunchtime”confirms Annie, the wife of Jean-Claude.
“My daughter promised that she would resume”
The clientele evolves, the spirit remains. “In Tourrettes there are people all year round, there are so many secondary villas, notes the keeper. It is a meeting place, family. Every Friday evening, there are about fifteen English people who come. Foreigners are considered Tourrettans.”
The rest of the story should continue to be written in the family version. Jean-Claude Taladoire hopes so: “My daughter promised my father that she would resume when we stop. She promised him”.
It’s the story of a guy. Let’s say more of a character… frankly quirky. A regular artist at the Café, whose presence is still felt even 28 years after his death. Scottish painter naturalized Danish, Andrew Mac Donald is plastered on the wall of the Café du midi. Or rather his portrait, which sits prominently in front of a bar he frequented so much. “He only drank brandy, remembers Marie-Thérèse Taladoire. When they buried him, they put a bottle in his coffin. We came back here and we all drank marc thinking of him! “
Landed in the 60s in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, the artist has become a figure. His long hair and his kilt marked the customers. The Taladoire family too. “Here was his second home”, remembers the former boss. His son Jean-Claude opens the memory box. Tasty anecdote. “He always had a kilt on and didn’t wear panties, says the owner. Since it was a bit old, it was hanging down there. One day there was an Englishman’s dog in the bar and someone was sending him a pack of cigarettes that he had to bring back. Except that the package was sent under the chair and the dog caught McDonald’s balls (laughs). He was bleeding, my mother played the nurse. He was a star!”
A “dropping point” for the Tourrettans
It wasn’t yesterday. It was the 60s. However, José Bertaina remembers it perfectly. The Café du midi is a bit like his Proust madeleine.
“Before ‘Mimine’ and ‘Gaby’ resumed, people were not so attached to it, remembers the former mayor (2001-2014), fifteen years old at the time. We kids didn’t have a place to meet. When they bought, it became our reunion place. It was like a second family. […] ‘Gaby’ told you jokes all day long, it was fun.“
Young people have a good time there. The Café was then only a bar. “It allowed us to get together, there were games like pinball, supports José Bertaina on the phone. It was a bit like our youth center. […] The Tourrettans met on Saturday evening, there were card contests. Even kids could play.”
“If I want to have a drink, I’ll go there”
The kid is no longer one, but certain habits remain firmly rooted. “It has always been my reference. I’m not sitting at the bistro all day, but if I want to have a drink, I’ll go there.”
The former magistrate digs into his memory. Speaks of “point of fall”, an appropriate expression according to him. “During the war, my father joined the resistance fighters and was wanted by the Gestapo. […] Once he heard the Germans coming. He came out of the house where he was hiding, crossed the alley and went up to take refuge in the Café du midi. It was already a starting point. Anyone who arrives in Tourrettes is obliged to go through the Café (smile).“