Our recent visit to France was a wining and dining adventure and we had some amazing and memorable experiences that I wanted to share here today, with a focus on three restaurants.
Steven and I were CouchSurfing for the majority of our time in France, staying in people’s homes which gave us an amazing local experience of friendship and culture.
In Normandy, we stayed in a beautiful farmhouse in a very small town called Roncey with Gaelle and Clemont. We had such a lovely time together, including a visit to Omaha Beach just 2 days before D-Day (June 6). We offered to treat them to their favorite restaurant and that’s how we ended up at Le Moulin.
The atmosphere was beautiful and cozy with a fire in a stone cottage that has an old water-wheel (moulin is French for mill). The meats are cooked on a grill rack over the open fire at the entrance.
Fortunately we had our new friends to help us with the translation of the French menu, and the restaurant also provided menus in English. We were given a small chalkboard to write down our menu choices. We all went for the Set Menu with plenty of good choices for 4 courses.
For our main meal, Steven had Pork while Gaelle and I both had veal. Clemont had Andoillette which I had never heard of before. If you Google it you might find it described as France’s stinky urine-smelling sausage or ‘Dish of Death’. Fortunately it didn’t smell that bad when it came out that night.
Our servings were generous with a big side of fries, which I have to admit were a bit too soft to enjoy. We declined the 3rd course which was a choice of cheese to make sure we could enjoy dessert – chocolate mousse and sorbet.
All of this accompanied by red wine – a Pinot Noir, a Medoc and a Cotes de Bourg (a region north-west of Bordeaux) and fabulous conversation made for a memorable evening.
After Normandy, we drove down to Brittany for 2 nights. Peross-Guirec was recommended to us for it’s beautiful pink granite rocks. We found a restaurant right on the beach to give us a lovely view while we enjoyed lunch.
We both ordered salads – Steven had Chicken Caesar and I had smoked salmon with avocado and small pikelets amongst the greens. Simple but so fresh and tasty. Accompanied by irresistable French bread, we savored every bite.
For drinks, Steven had a Kirs Royal – a French cocktail with blackcurrant liqueur (Crème de Cassis) topped with Champagne. I had a Millet Cotes de Gascogne, 2013 Chardonnary which was smooth and buttery and went well with my salad.
With the view, the sun shining and the delicious food and wine – this was probably our favorite meal of the trip.
We stayed 5 nights in Bayonne, mostly dining at ‘home’ in the apartment we were fortunate to stay in. On our last night we reserved a table at the popular Auberge Du Petit Bayonne which I had found highly recommended on Trip Advisor. It gave us a chance to taste the local Basque cuisine.
Getting there was not without it’s adventure as we were hit by a deluge of rain between our car and the restaurant and we had to take cover for quite a few minutes to avoid getting totally drenched.
Our host spoke only a ‘leetle’ English but we managed to communicate with a bit of help from French translater app and the good old international sign language, if you know what I mean.
We went with a 3 course set menu which is the way to go in France with great value and no sacrifice of choice or taste.
The appetizers were beautifully presented on tiles of slate. I had Codfish in Pepper accompanied by a pimento sauce which created a delicious fusion of flavor. Steven had ham which he did not find as flavorful as he was used to. It was more bacon-like and thin.
For the main meal and I had a succulent lamb and Steven had a steak. The desserts were wickedly decadent. I had the Mi cru mi cuit au Chocolat maison which translated to Chocolate cake with hot lava chocolate inside, served with pouring custard. Steven had the Marquise au chocolat, crème anglaise maison – a rich chocolate mousse that is frozen, then sliced and served with pouring custard.
I enjoyed Auberge Petit du Bayonne for the ambiance, the hospitality and great food.
A further two to mention:
I can’t finish this blog without including our dining experience in Cognac where we sat outside in the heart of town. The classic Duck l’Orange that I ordered was outstanding – so much so that I couldn’t keep Steven’s fork out of my plate.
Finally I have to include La Terrace Rouge (Red Terrace) in St Emilion with it’s setting of what looks like a pool of red grapes. It is in fact red glass, and the views with the setting sun were gorgeous.
There is much to like about wining and dining in France. Please share if you agree, and let us know about your experiences.
Annette & Steven Lynch