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Apr 18, 2010 10:26 PM

Recommendations for a place to stop between Quimper and either St. Emilion or Sarlat-de-Caneda

We have arranged a home exchange for Brittany (Quimper) and want to go to San Sebastien. Our route will take us through St. Emilion and Sarlat where we have B&B and dinner reservations, however, I'm wondering if a stop between Quimper and the Bordeaux region would be more relaxing and if so, what city and where to eat. Someone recommended La Rochelle, particularly for the mussels. Also, any suggestions for places to try in Brittany?

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  1. Nantes seems like the logical place to stop. Honestly, I don't know much that is very interesting between Nantes and Bordeaux . To me, La Rochelle means ultimate boredom, flat landscape, conventional average food... But it is half way, has a rich history, and one of the best fish restaurants in France (Coutanceau). Another thing you can do is La Rochelle is take the bridge to the Ile de Ré.

    Since it's a six hour drive, I suppose you're talking about having lunch somewhere on the way?

    Brittany is vast, and so are the dining choices. Around Quimper, I suppose you'd be favouring crepes and seafood? I know Pont l'Abbé and Penmarch well. Visiting the marktet in Le Guilvinec or Loctudy are worthwhile experiences (they're the best places for Langoustines for instance).

    In Le Guilvinec, have mussels at La Vieille Coque, a real family place. Have crepes at Le Rayon Vert by the Pointe de la Torche. The very old house called Menn Lann Du somewhere close to Plomeur is lots of fun. In Pont l'Abbé, Creperie Courot is worth a visit. In Saint Guénolé, have a dinner with sunset view at l'Hotel de la Mer.

    For fancy dining, there's l'Ambroisie in Quimper and l'Hotel de la Plage in Sainte Anne de Bretagne.

    Bénodet, Sainte Marine are the fancy resorts around here and have some pretty good small restaurants -- check what Michelin says.

    1 Reply
    1. re: souphie

      I second the recommendation of Creperie Courot in Pont l'Abbe wholeheartedly. I've enjoyed many wonderful gut-stuffing meals there.

    2. Whether you are looking for a place to spend the night or just a lunch spot to break up the long day drive, I recommend a very pretty vineyard ferme-auberge outside Cognac that serves good food at very reasonable prices: the Chateau de Mesnac.
      The lunch there is also kind of light, which is a welcoming touch when all the other restos there do the goose revenge - namely, stuffing foie gras down YOUR throat.

      1. We enjoyed dinner at the Château de Locguénolé near Lorient last October. Apparently it has repositioned itself slightly downmarket since then, but I wouldn't hesitate to try it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: fanoffrance

          If La Rochelle is on your list, do take the bridge over to Ile de Ré and have your mussels there. It's much more picturesque than La Rochelle. A specialty of that area is mouclade charentaise, which is based on mussels in a cream sauce flavored with wine, curry, egg yolks, etc. If you like mussels, this is one of the best ways to eat them.

          You can also find lovely b&b places on the island, but book in advance. You can drive around the entire island in 3-4 hours with stops to visit beaches, but fleur-de-sel, climb the Phare des Baleines lighthouse, etc. One of our favorite places in France.

        2. Henri et Joseph in L'Orient has been on my short list for a while. I'm actively working on visiting.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mangeur

            By all means, try it and let us know. But Lorient is a pretty sinistre city, and it's like half an hour from Quimper.

            1. re: souphie

              "sinistre" as in evil or dangerous, as in the preconception of parts of Marseilles?

              1. re: mangeur

                As in an industrial fishing harbor, that has no historic part left as everything was destroyed during the war. And, unlike Brest, the way it was redone has nothing appealing or interesting. Basically like a huge Zone Industrielle. With some gems inside the houses, mind you, like Abadie at l'Amphytrion. But even Abadie has something depressing in his humility. And, you know, Quimper is lovely, Quimperlé, Quiberon are lovely. Even Vannes. And don't get me started on Golfe du Morbihan. Speaking of which, what's the name of that Nouvelle cuisine legend in La Roche-Bernard? His son took over and I think the father, if he's still alive, now only paints. Anyway, pretty good house.

          2. Les Mangeux de Lumas in la Garette-Sansais near Coulon. Really cute mini-village with a tiny port on the Marais Potevin. A unique and extraordinary place. Specializing in Maraichine cuisine: snails, farcis maraichine (a kind of spinach and pork pate), the unique jambon de vendee. Rent out a barque and try your luck paddling on a canal of the Marais Mouillee (also known as the Green Venice) or get a guide.