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May 13, 2009 02:16 PM


Our first trip to La Rochelle will be this June. We wonder if anyone could offer us must-not-be-missed recommendations. Thanks!

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  1. Not exactly la Rochelle, but nearby. Drive down the E602 to Rochefort. Stay at the hotel de la Corderie Royale (royal ships`ropemaking center) along the canal and eat at their restaurant. I had one of my best meals in France there a couple of years ago, totally unexpected.

    This is not a 3-star restaurant, although the hotel is 3 stars. It is rather the kind of place you used to find anywhere in France, but not much these days. A creative, beautiful meal at an unbelievably reasonable price. Here's the writeup I did on this place 3 years ago:

    Some friends recommended this hotel but didn't even mention the restaurant.This was a 3-star hotel where very pleasant doubles cost 75 euros and singles cost 58 euros, with views of the canal.

    Omigod, it was great. Started with an amuse bouche which was a shot glass of warm green pepper soup with a froth of red pepper. Entrée was Royale de foie gras en nage de châtaignes, à la fève de Tonka. Rich soup/sauce with fois gras, puréed little chestnuts, beans of Tonka (never heard of those).

    Main course was Moelleux de cabillaud en deux façons, l'une en brandade, l'autre rôtie, courgette au thym. This is cod two ways, pureed with potatoes and cooked in a small cake, and roasted, along with tiny courgettes flavored with thyme.

    Next course was a plate of cheese or the local specialty, a jonchée. Imagine the roller used in making suchi rolls in a Japanese restaurant, but instead of thin bamboo it`s made of marsh reeds. That is rolled to hold together a sheep or goat cheese with the texture of firm youghurt, flavored with almond & laurel, and opened onto a plate. They were out of this, so I opted for a lovely, simple green salad that was very lightly dressed.

    Dessert was Passion aux deux chocolats and sorbet yaourt, which should be self-explanatory except it was more like four chocolats, and the inside of a passionfruit.

    The entrée, main dish, and dessert were all beautiful, as well as superbly prepared. There were other choices for each course, which I did not describe.

    Finally, the incredible bottom line: 36 euros. Local wines they suggested were 5 euros by the glass. There were bottles, too, of course. And the service was delightful.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RandyB

      Sounds great Randy B. Thanks for the reply. We are anxious to try the restaurant based upon your recommendation, but probably will not be staying at the hotel, as we have a rental reserved in La Rochelle. How far is Rochefort from La Rochelle?

      1. re: grantham

        Less than 30 miles. You must visit both the Corderie Royale and the chantier where they are constructing an exact replica of the Hermione, ship of Marquis de LaFayette. Both are worth taking the tour and they are both on the same property, separated by a small park. This is a day trip, not a place to re-locate to from La Rochelle. Also do not miss taking the bridge from La Rochelle to the Ile de Re and driving around the island to the Pahre aux Baleines, a lighthouse you cant climb up into for a panporamic view of the island. Great seafood available at many restaurants in the larger towns. This is another day trip from where you are renting and you will be delighted by the island. Good place to buy fleur de sel.

        1. re: CJT

          Then go to back to the Île de Ré in a month with an R in it for oysters. Oysterculture has replaced salt as the leading non-tourist industry.

          I agree with CJT about other things to see in Rochefort.

          1. re: CJT

            Thanks for the info CJT. We look forward to experiencing those sites.

            1. re: grantham

              You should be able to get oysters on the Ile de Ré in June. We had lunch at a restaurant in one of the small towns on the north side of the island in June 2004 and they were excellent. To correct my earlier post, the lighthouse is the Phare des Baleines (I believe it was possible at some time to see whales from the top of the tower. If you get lucky on the island and find mouclade on a menu, do try it. Mussels in a creamy sauce with flavors of mustard and curry -- depends on when the special mussels are available in the area.. Not far away on the coast south of Ild de Ré is the Ile d'Oléron, which is good for seafood, as its main industry has been fishing. But it is not as picturesque as Ile de Ré.