Two hours outside of Paris, with the seals
Make a stop at the Baie de Somme, one of the hundred most beautiful bays in the world — along with the San Fransisco and Halong Bays! And more precisely, stop at the small port of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, on the market square, where you’ll find Le Guide Fooding’s pick for Best Catch of 2016. Which boasts a heated terrace, a view of the sea, seals, fisherman stalls with freshly caught seafood, that they serve raw, cooked and twisted (shiso, yuzu…). And for somewhere nearby to sleep: Les Pilotes.
One hour outside of Bordeaux, your feet in the sand
Swap the lunchtime sandwich and exhaust pipes for a full dose of omega 3 at La Canfouine in Cap Ferret! The pitch: a simple pontoon with a view of the oyster parks and, on the menu, the family’s bivalves, homemade pâté and shrimp or whelks from small local producers. And for somewhere nearby to sleep: Hôtel de la plage.
Two hours outside of Lyon, straight into the Vercors Massif
Guillaume Monjuré, the mustachioed chef and winner of Le Guide Fooding’s Best Chef of 2013 award for this bistro in Lyon, has left the city for a little corner of paradise, way up high in the Vercors mountains. On the plates of his brand new Palégrié, you’ll rediscover the frank and precise flavors he’s known for. So dig into his insanely delicious €58 menu served around the fire when it’s chilly outside… and you can dive headfirst into the wine list, since they also run a hotel!
One hour outside of Montpellier, on a pontoon
This sandy gem located along the banks of the Étang de Thau is reopening in early May. A long pontoon, a driftwood hut, lost between the sky and the sea… For a handful of Euros, try the spéciale oysters with pink shells, escargot from the lagoon or gigantic mussels grilled on the plancha. For a place to sleep that’s not (too) far away: Les Quatre Etoiles in Montpellier.
Two hours from Rennes, on an island
You’ll need to get the car-ferry combo option if you want to get to Le San Francisco on the île aux Moines, an old granite hotel with crazy amounts of charm…. On the agenda: a terrace, palm trees, natural wines, stunning shellfish platters and freshly-caught fish. All savored while enjoying the views of the Morbihan Gulf. Lunch formula menu for €20. To sleep? At the hotel, of course!
Two hours from Toulouse, in secret
Hidden out in the sticks of Escamps behind dried stonewalls, Le Clos Caché is a true haven of peace. There’s a set surprise menu (€45), but careful, there are only twelve seats! So needless to say, reservations are necessary… And for somewhere to sleep, the house recommends Le Causse des Camps.
One hour from Clermond-Ferrand, just like on your first paid vacation
Ah! How beautiful is my mountain! Perched 950 meters high in the regional Livradois-Forez park, this timeless hotel-restaurant overlooks a village square with a church and a triumphant steeple. Run by a former Bristol man, Peter Taylor, with fare prepared by Matthew Robertson, an American farmer/chef who used to work at Au Passage (Paris), the €25 menu sources its produce from the house vegetable patch and the market. The wine list is simply superb. We can’t wait until May for this place to reopen! Bonus: eight little hotel rooms.