A number of excellent dinners in restaurants across France enlivened our trip as we meandered from Normandy to Paris to Chamonix to the Cote d’Azur and back again. In date order these were:
- Le Mascaret in Blainville –sur-Mer (Normandy): This is a Michelin one-star restaurant in a small and sleepy village where you wouldn’t think any great cuisine existed. Le Mascaret also boasts a small hotel and spa and it is worth a stay if you are passing through the area en route to nearby attractions such as Mont-St-Michel. http://www.inn-france-chateaux.com/Normandie/BlainvillesurMer/LeMascaret.html
- J’Go in Paris (4, rue Drouot, close to Opera): I first visited this restaurant during a rugby trip for a Heineken Cup match some years ago as the then coach of the Stade Francais team, Fabien Galthié (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabien_Galthié), is involved with J’Go and pointed the refereeing team there. In any case, J’Go features the food of the South-West of France and the meal was very good, so it was time to return and test it again. Don’t go to J’Go if you want to avoid rich food as its menu includes lots of red meat. We ate duck and pork and both were good. The magret de canards that were served came from ducks that had whopping great breasts, but the favourite item was the frites a l’ancienne. These weren’t frozen French fries of the type served in so many restaurants. They were chunky pieces of potato that had been fried in duck fat and were all the better for the experience. http://www.lejgo.com/acces-resto_drouot.html
- Relais Flouri, near Avallon: Our route took us from Flayosc in the south to catch the ferry in Cherbourg. According to the satnav, the 1,215km would take 11 hours 29 minutes to drive, plus rest stops and the inevitable delays caused by the traffic hotspots in Lyon and Paris. A halt en route was therefore required and we chose to stay at the Relais Flouri, which is about 3km from the A6 exit for Avallon, about 657km from Flayosc or roughly half-way along the route. The rooms are motel style and are functional rather than aesthetically pleasing, but they do the job. The restaurant is the real star because it serves great food and wine of the Burgandy region at a reasonable price. I had a very nice Rognons de Veau (whole veal’s kidney) grilled and served in a mustard sauce on top of a bed of woodland mushrooms. Recommended as a stop along the way to the South of France – and if you want to save some money, you can always stay at the Campanile Hotel next door and eat at the Relais Flouri. http://www.relais-fleuri.com/
Speaking of Flayosc, we stayed with Norman and Alison Howell at the Bastide de Gineste (http://www.bastideholidays.com/). The Bastide is a restored house that offers both bed and breakfast and a small number of self-catering apartments. It’s in a good location if you want to visit the region to see places like the Gorges du Verdon. You’ll receive a good welcome and lots of advice about the local region.