The medieval city of Bayeux is crawling with Americans due to its proximity to Normandy’s historic D-Day sites, which meant that the restaurants within walking distance of our hotel catered to Yankee tastes. Rather than endure anything less than a stellar meal, we hailed a cab to Château d’Audrieu. I counted far more cows than people on the 14 kilometer countryside ride. The grounds leading up to the château were immaculate.
Château d’Audrieu, which boasts a Michelin star and is tucked inside a swanky Relais & Châteaux property, was quite a departure from the homey, family-run establishments that we visited in Burgundy and outside Normandy. We hadn’t been served by suited gents since we departed from Paris.
Chef Olivier Barbarin, who has been leading the brigade here since 2009, combines local ingredients with modern flare. It was interesting to compare his fine dining point of view with our more rustic dinner from the night before at Manoir de l’Acherie in Sainte-Cécile.
Our table was set with fresh flowers and a single candle. The large windows opening into the courtyard made for an idyllic view.
Continue reading ‘Château d’Audrieu – Audrieu’
From beautiful Burgundy, we packed our bags, hopped a train, and traveled to Normandy. Mom requested a stop in this northern region to observe the historic D-Day beaches. We also fit in a trip to Mont Saint-Michel, a rocky tidal island and commune dating back to the 6th century.
In between our two chief sightseeing adventures, we had a stupendous feast of Norman delights at Manoir de l’Acherie. Dining in charming, family-owned restaurants serving local specialties was the highlight of exploring the French countryside. I hope to make a whole vacation of inn-hopping in the future.
The restaurant was located on the first floor of the Le Manoir de l’Acherie inn. Our reserved table was beautifully set in the French tradition upon arrival. The textured, pale yellow tablecloth and napkins were jazzed up by bold chargers.
While mom sipped a glass of red to start, The Astronomer and I shared a bottle of cidre (4.50€)—a specialty of the region. Whereas the ciders we’ve sampled in America are sweet, bubbly, alcopoppy creations, the stuff made in Normandy is legitimately funky with just a splash of fruitiness. The scent of the cider reminded The Astronomer and me of the pungent goat cheese shop we visited in the Loire Valley. The essence took some getting used to, but by the end of the bottle we were both big fans.
Continue reading ‘Manoir de l’Acherie – Sainte-Cécile’
Up until we departed Provence, the only restaurants that we explored were in fairly large French cities. During the second half of our trip in Burgundy and Normandy, we often found ourselves in the middle of nowhere due to sightseeing excursions. With few English language resources available about where to eat in the countryside, I turned to the Michelin Guide to locate stellar family-owned restaurants specializing in regional dishes. While the Michelin Guide never made too much sense to me in America, on its home turf it was genuinely helpful in leading travelers to “charming” dining destinations that were “worth the drive.”
While tasting our way along the Route des Grands Crus, we lunched at Les Terrasses de Corton in Ladoix-Serrigny—the heart of Burgundy’s wine region. Located on the first floor of a low-key inn, the restaurant is run by husband and wife team Patrice and Valerie Sanchez.
As we walked from the parking lot to the restaurant’s entrance, we spied Chef Patrice in the kitchen. Gotta love the huge window and his old school toque!
A plate of still-hot-from-the-fryer accras de morue (salt cod fritters) landed on the table as we perused the menus.
Continue reading ‘Les Terrasses de Corton – Ladoix-Serrigny’
In between our back to back dinners at AOC, The Astronomer, Mom, and I lunched at Ginette et Marcel, a petit restaurant specializing in tartines (open-faced sandwiches). While there was plenty of seating available inside the restaurant, most everyone who dined here this afternoon chose a table al fresco. Another day in Avignon, another lovely meal set in a picturesque courtyard. Life sure is beautiful in Provence.
We chose a table inside because the space was just so lovely. From the shelves lined with dried goods to the sausages hung to dry, the vibe and aesthetics here were effortlessly stylish. As far as I am concerned, this is the most adorable restaurant in all of France.
The tartines du jour were scrawled on a chalkboard.
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Of all the restaurants that we had the pleasure of visiting while in France, I would be most thrilled if AOC expanded stateside. Tucked into a quiet courtyard in Avignon, this wine bar offered everything that I could ever want from a restaurant. The service was helpful and efficient, the al fresco seating couldn’t be beat, the wines and food were priced just right, and let me tell you about their beef tartare…
I was crushing so hard on AOC after our meal here that we gave it another go the following evening. It’s the only restaurant of the trip to have had the distinction of being visited twice.
AOC, in case you’re curious, stands for the appellation d’origine contrôlée:
The French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau Institut national des appellations d’origine, now called Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité (INAO). It is based on the concept of terroir.
I was putty in AOC’s hands as soon as this plank of house-made charcuterie and cheeses arrived. There were heaps of pork rilettes, a slice of gelatinous headcheese, thick cuts of salami, and beautiful cheeses of all stripes—stinky, runny, blue, hard, and creamy. Best of all were the sausages embedded with Roquefort! Served in tandem with this spread to shame all other spreads were snappy cornichons, salted butter, and bread. This, paired with several glasses of chilled white wine, was pure heaven.
Continue reading ‘AOC – Avignon’