I first started going to this little wine shop called Le Cellier, four summers ago while staying in
La Garde Freinet with my friend Barbara. The village is small with one wine shop, one cheese
store, one butcher shop, two bakeries and a small general store.
I met the owner, Herve Sauvage and his son Romain Sauvage one Sunday afternoon when we
stopped in before lunch to buy a bottle of wine. There were in the middle of “l’apero” which
precludes both lunch and dinner here in the south of France. It’s a friendly ritual and the word
“apertif” actually designates both the drink and the convivial moment before a meal. It’s a time
to relax, to socialize and to clink glasses together with a friendly tchin tchin (cheers) or sante (to
As we walked into the small cave (wine store) that Sunday afternoon, it was filled with people
and laughter. There were three bottles of rose wine opened and a yummy array of olives,
sausage, cheese and tapenade to taste. We stayed for a drink and within ten minutes I had
made a bunch of new friends.
I kept coming back to buy wine and cheese here and each time Romain would introduce me to
a new bottle of provencal rose wine. I was never disappointed!
The name, Le Cellier, means the cellar and has been around for eighteen years. Herve Sauvage
had always been passionate about wine, especially French wine. One winter, eighteen years
ago, he decided to invest in variety of different wines and open a small store. His attitude was
that “if this works, it’s wonderful….and if it doesn’t then I’ll have a lot of good wine to drink”!
The first location was half the size of the present one, which is to say, tiny. It had been a privately
owned wine cellar for over a hundred years when Herve took it over.
He started selling his wine, and it worked.
In 2007, he decided he needed a larger location and they moved into the cave that is presently
Le Cellier. With the larger space, Herve and Romain were able to sell more types of wine as
well as locally made olive oil, foil gras, sausage, cheese and jams. They specialize in high
quality organic and local products. The tapenade they sell is made nearby in Aix-en-provence
and the fois gras is of the highest quality, coming from a friend and local producer in the south
west region of France. Some of my favorite products there are the lavender jam, the chestnut
cream, the duck sausage and the cheeses such as saint felician, saint nectaire, tomme and
comte. They also sell champagne and hard alcohol, such as absinthe and pastis.
Their collection of wine is absolutely amazing. Eighty per cent is French and the other twenty
per cent is Portugese, Italian, Spanish, Chilean and Lebanese. They carry many different varieties
of rose wine, all from Provence except for just three exceptions.
Both Herve and his son Romain are constantly tasting and choosing different wines for the
unique collection in their shop. They take so much time to choose high quality wines that you
know no matter what you buy there, whether it’s expensive or inexpensive will be the the best
there is. Romain told me that they have over a hundred bottles of wine at home, just waiting
to be tasted and that they have tasted over ninety five per cent of what they carry in their cave.
They have even worked with a few locals to make their own small vintage of wine, choosing the
barrels, the grapes, the blending technique and the fermentation time.
I love being able to walk into the shop, tell Romain what I am having for dinner that night and
let him choose something for me.
I asked him to tell me his favorite thing about the shop and he said that so many people that
come into the shop over and over again to buy their wine have become friends and family to
them. Herve’s best friends are an English couple that walked into the shop eighteen years ago
to buy some wine and like so many of us, kept coming back.
Le Cellier is located in La Garde Freinet, 38 rue Saint Jacques, 83680
The phone is +33 611541536 and their hours are very day from 10am-8pm
If you’d like to try their lovely wine, click on the images