Early this year a new bar/restaurant opened in Agen (47).
Most Saturday mornings we visit the covered market in Agen. It’s an outing, not just about shopping, but to get our ‘town’ fix and find some of the best local products to try. Sadly, there was a lack of a sophisticated place to enjoy good wine and a tasty snack so I watched with interest whilst a small, pale and shabby, 70’s shop front on the perimeter of the market was fitted out by new owners promising a wine bar!
I couldn’t even picture what had been there before as the little non-descript street was merely a ‘cut-through’ to the car park and market and definitely could not be considered elegant in any way. I certainly didn’t hold out too much hope for a destination wine bar – style, sadly, being the last thing on your average French bar and restaurant owners radar.
After an absence of a couple of weeks, I passed by and the signage was up, the windows were freshly polished and complimentary charcuterie and fromage on slate platters were laid out on oak wine barrels outside. I needed nothing more to tempt me in for a closer inspection.
Aside from the mouth-watering fare on display, the first thing that struck me was the signage. Gueuleton du Marché in a strong modern font, with a distinct nod to tradition, and a solid white on black. I consider myself a bit of a branding expert and I really hoped this eye catching, and stylish exterior, was a true reflection of what lay within.
I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was pretty amazed at the transformation! The neon lit, scruffy white interior had been replaced with a chic matt black wall (yes, you can use dark colours to amazing effect in a small space!), the perfect backdrop for a superb selection of wines, simply displayed in wooden crates, and branded Reidel glasses that sparkled with expectation. A solid oak bar, with chrome beer handles to deliver the delicious organic beer, and clear glass pendants overhead providing a warm and welcoming glow without becoming a visual barrier to the display beyond.
This place had bucket loads (wine of course) of style and I have to confess to taking some inspiration for my own kitchen!
I got chatting to Vincent, the owner of Gueuleton du Marché, and it soon became clear that we shared the same style ethos. Splash out on a few important basics, in Vincent’s case, the oak bar and the flooring, and then save on the decorative items by getting creative. Gueuleton’s lights were a self-made solution from the local DIY store, the crate shelfing was free and the glasses were a necessity anyway but, neatly arranged made a great visual display. The antlers were about the only decorative item and bang on trend!
Vincent enthusiastically explained what gueuleton means. Larousse defines it as ‘repas copieux et excellent’ but in France it goes much deeper than that, as you would expect! The best gueuleton is about a wonderful meal served with carefully selected wines and shared and appreciated with good company.
So, a great name for the brand and, for Vincent, it means serving, with passion, the best of local French products, presented for sharing, in convivial surroundings and building a community of people who want to share in the art of good living.
It’s now almost 12 months on and Vincent packs them in every night, spilling out on to the pavement and serving an impressive number of covers considering it’s petite, but perfectly formed, size. He has succeeded in making Gueuleton du Marché a destination for fine wine, cuisine and a great atmosphere.
The Gueuleton community and bar now has a great website (ok, a shameless plug for me the web designer!) and Vincent is working on expanding the bar concept to other locations around France, with Gueuleton branded products to sell online in the not too distant future.
All great news for good design and branding, and for that elusive French entrepreneurship, and I do recommend a visit for excellent food and wine if ever you are in town!