One bright sunny day in Noumea (which occurs quite often, even in winter) we decided to take a walk down the length of Route du Port Despointes in Faubourg Blanchot. The area is known for its historic houses, many have plaques commemorating the build date and the small district makes for a gentle walking tour.
We walk the length of the road all the way down to the bay and the slightly shabby Champion supermarche, then promptly turn around and walk back up the road again. A few restos in the area have closed in recent years, there's not a great deal of choice for a place to eat.
As it turns out the brightly coloured L'Arlequin is close to our only choice for a Saturday lunch. It's upstairs in an old two storey house, where you can sit out on the terrace with a view of the valley and a welcome breeze. Very pleasant indeedy, especially with a glass of rosé in hand. On our last walk here a year ago this spot was a Mexican themed, but we're much more interested in the French / Caledonian menu.
We're not exactly in deep tourist land here so the boss lady seems surprised to see a couple of pasty pokens (a slang term for tourists, an abbreviation of 'English spoken here'.) We waddle up the stairs and ask to see the menu.
We get comfortable out on the terrace, it's shady and gets the breeze coming off the water at the bottom of the hill.
A short menu is a good menu - we feel like we're in good hands.
Salade de poulet et roti, cromesquis de mozzarella, croutons ailles, jambon cru, tomates et champignons fais or roast chicken salad. It's not easy to make magic with chicken but the chef pulls it out of his hat with roast chunky nugs of chook with happy moments of fried mozzarella, cured ham, all magically made healthy with lettuce.
Salade de crevettes citronelle, tataki de thon, papaya verte, croustillant de legumes Thai, a prawn salad with tuna and crunchy vegetable rolls Thai style. Local prawns have a firm texture and are really suited to cooking, and this is coming from us folks who like their seafood au natural. These were lightly pan fried in oil and cooked with a good chefs touch, served on top of lettuce with crisp spring rolls and some rather sensational tuna sashimi seared then sliced, with sauce of Japanese soy and oil, served on a little grated green papaya. This mix of French and Asian is a New Caledonian style that gets us all gaga, especially when done just right like this.
It's the last full day of the holiday so bugger it, let's get dessert. Tart fin aux pommes (apple tarte) is always a winner, this one especially so, we can really taste the freshness of the apples over the thin pastry, there must be an art to pulling this out of the oven just at the right time. There's just a little local honey and the vanilla ice cream is good stuff.
Looking at the view we try not to think about leaving tomorrow.
Inside the restaurant lives up to it's colourful namesake.
As we pay the boss tells us they have only been open two weeks.
L'Arlequin is at 45 ter route du Port Despointes, Faubourg Blanchot. Phone +687 25 20 05.
They offer to call us a taxi but we walk the long way home, back down the road again and head around the bay, skirting to the right around the point to watch to kite surfers and check out the resorts. We have to make room for tonights dinner - mud crabs and bugs bought at the market in the morning and cooked up au natural by Shawn's mum, along with the weeks leftovers including rabbit chasseur and pork knuckle in mustard cream sauce bought from a nearby traiteur (a specialist in ready made meals).
This road is worth a daytime stroll, there's a couple of restaurants and bars, patisseries, one or two Chinese restos and even a popular Balinese joint (sadly the rhum bar seemed to be closed down). The walk starts in Centreville up a steepish hill then down the main suburban thoroughfare of Route du Port Despointes through Faubourg Blanchot, lined with some shops and heritage listed houses.
The Canton Royal ready for your Chinese Takeaway needs.
Some of the stores are in the front of houses, mostly closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
Our recon mission down the road was mainly to solve the mystery of why locals haunt Le Petite Auberge never answered the phone when we tried to book. Mystery solved - alas it was long closed down.
Prada the missing pussycat, showing off her best assets.
We head right down to the water, from where it's a pleasant palm tree lined walk along a seaside walking/cycling track around the bay taking us back home to (hello mudda hello fadda here i am in) Anse Varta, where most of us tourists hang out. Weather depending it's a good stroll and works off that last bite of dessert.
Along the Promenade Pierre Vernier is 'On the Beach', a lunchtime spot we've lined up for next time.
Amazing windsurfing conditions out here, even the little kids get into it.
The bay is a haven for kite surfers as well, there's no shortage of water flying action. Sit out the front of Le Meridian and watch if you can't join in.