CULI­NARY CON­STEL­LA­TIONS

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRANCE -

SIX FRENCH TOWNS WHERE GOURMETS ARE SPOILT FOR CHOICE

Va­lence is not alone in at­tract­ing more than its fair share of top chefs. Here are six more towns in France which have a sur­pris­ing num­ber of gas­tro­nomic restau­rants.

Kay­sers­berg

(pop: 2,700)

Al­sa­ciens ex­act high stan­dards – in the kitchen as else­where. Olivier Nasti meets them to twostar Miche­lin level at Le Cham­bard, a gas­tro­nomic res­tau­rant at­tached to a grand ho­tel. Along­side the posh din­ing (lecham­bard. fr, £100-plus for a full din­ner), Nasti has a win­stub brasserie do­ing Al­sace spe­cial­i­ties ( chou­croute, baeck­e­offe, foie gras) with panache. Along­side both are other stand­out restau­rants. Don’t miss the fam­ily-run Vieille Forge (vieille­forgekb.com, menus from £27) or Jérôme Jae­gle’s brand new L’Alchémille (lal­chemille.fr, menus from £33).

Le Cham­bard, which is also a four-star ho­tel, in 18th-cen­tury sur­round­ings; room-only dou­bles from £171.

Stay at: Noir­moutier is­land

(pop: 9,500)

The first time I crossed the cause­way to Noir­moutier, someone had just stolen all the CDs from my car. So it was with­out Tina Turner that I ar­rived on the is­land off the Vendée coast. The com­pen­sa­tions were al­most ad­e­quate. Head first for La Marine on the port at the L’Her­baudière, the isle’s western tip. Alexan­dre Couil­lon’s mod­ern way with fish has winched it to two-Miche­lin-star sta­tus (alexan­drecouil­lon.com, din­ner £127). Nearby, Le Grand Four has been surg­ing ahead since Hen­rick Gar­riga and José Roche took it over last De­cem­ber (legrand­four. com, £26). And the Fleur de Sel re­mains the is­land’s clas­sic gas­tro­nomic ad­dress (fleur­de­sel.fr, £24).

Stay at:

The Fleur de Sel; dou­bles from £97 b&b.

Can­cale

(pop: 5,200)

I’d fin­ished the fish soup, they brought me the homard and I said: “The world is my lob­ster.” I’d waited long for the right place in which to echo Arthur Da­ley. Can­cale is that place. Near St Malo, it’s hemmed with some of France’s finest oys­ter beds. And it has as much ter­rific eat­ing as any Bre­ton needs. Olivier Roellinger led the town to promi­nence with his Miche­lin three-star Le Re­lais Gour­mand. He’s shut it now, for the sim­pler life at Le Co­quil­lage (within the Château Richeux; maisons-de-bricourt. com, £58). Not far away, at St Mélior-des-On­des, the Mai­son Tirel-Guérin is re­li­a­bil­ity in res­tau­rant form (tirel-guerin.com, £41). Mean­while, the big news is the ar­rival of Franco-Ja­panese RaphaëlFu­mio Ku­daka in the top-class eatery above the Breizh Café créperie on the Can­cale water­front (breizh­cafe.com, £86 in­clud­ing drinks).

The old-fash­ioned Tirel-Guérin; room-only dou­bles from £105.

Stay at: Blois

(pop: 46,000)

The château of Blois – in the Loire val­ley – of­fers a bril­liant trot through a fine slice of French royal his­tory. The noc­tur­nal son-et­lu­mière is less riv­et­ing. I’d have been bet­ter lin­ger­ing over din­ner, es­pe­cially as Blois is be­com­ing a re­gal cui­sine cen­tre. Assa is so in the vibe of Franco-Ja­panese fu­sion that Fu­miko and An­thony Maubert bagged a Miche­lin star last year (as­sarestau­rant.com, £31). The el­e­gant Orangerie-duChâteau has had its star a lit­tle longer (or­angeriedu-chateau.fr, £33) while, on the banks of the Loire, new own­ers have breathed life into La Creusille (lacreusille.fr, £22).

The best value ho­tel in town: the Loire-side Au­berge-Lige­ri­enne-CôtéLoire (coteloire.com); roomonly dou­bles from £51.

Stay at: St Bon­net-le-Froid

(pop: 252)

Régis Mar­con has been called “the pope of the green lentil”. He’s also hot with mush­rooms. Both abound in his south­ern Au­vergne moun­tain re­doubt, and have helped rocket his res­tau­rant – Régis Et Jac­ques Mar­con – to Miche­lin three-star sta­tus (reg­is­mar­con.fr, £132). As re­mark­able as the lentils, and Mar­con’s na­tional em­i­nence, is the vil­lage it­self: along­side the three-star show­piece

Bur­gun­di­ans are a pros­per­ous peo­ple liv­ing on a pros­per­ous land. Head di­rectly to Di­jon, Beaune – or, these days, Tour­nus on the Saône river. Bristling with Miche­lin stars, it’s the tasti­est place to be, no­tably if you have a book­ing at Jean-Michel Car­rette’s Les Ter­rasses. Car­rette is the world’s great­est fan of pâté-en-croûte (“pork pie”). “It rep­re­sents the val­ues of friend­ship and shar­ing,” he says, thus ob­vi­ously de­serv­ing his star (aux­ter­rasses.com, £51). The grand Res­tau­rant Greuze was a long-time Bur­gundy stand­out, and is now starred again, un­der Yo­hann Cha­puis (res­tau­rant-greuze.fr, £36). Nearby, Valéry Meulien has his star for cook­ing with a cre­ative spark at the Res­tau­rant Meulien (meulien.com, £51) while Le Rem­part boasts a one-star gas­tro­nomic res­tau­rant and a pa­tio brasserie (lerem­part.com, £35 and £17 re­spec­tively).

The Ho­tel aux Ter­rasses; room-only dou­bles from £69.

Stay at:

Oys­ters on sale at the mar­ket in Can­cale, Brit­tany

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