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Jul 6, 2012 02:20 PM

Any recommendations around Guerande/ La Baule/ Le Croisic?

My husband and I are spending 10 days there in early August, the delightful tourist season, and we are looking for all levels of restaurants! I know the area fairly well, but in the past was too young/ too broke to eat out much. My family has been vacationing there since the mid-50s (before I was born), but they do not eat out much, so while I am sure they will have some recommendations, I would love to know if there is a life beyond the Castel Marie Louise (and is it even up to its reputation?)

We will be staying in Le Pouliguen but will have a car... Haute or simple, we are takers of all addresses, though we do prefer restaurants highlighting local foods (duh!), and I am not the hugest fan of La Baule's party/ showy spots.

Might be a long shot, but let's see if anyone has anything to share!

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  1. There is a resto in La Baule called 'Tete de Veau' that serves it's namesake dish only one day a week, try it.

    If you feel like driving @ 100 miles, in Pont Aven there is Le Cremellerie and Jack's in Rice en Belon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Aaahh, tête de veau in a city full of Parigots, makes sense!

      Alas, 100 miles seems a bit much, though chez Jacky sounds great.

    2. I find Castel Marie-Louise a wee bit over-rated and over-priced. Simply because it's a better value but still in the haughty range, I prefer Le Eden Beach or La Terrasse at the Hermitage Barrière. One of my favourite fruits de mer platters in the world!! But the ambiance and clientele are very la Baule-ish. Much farther down the snob scale, I also quite like Le Chaudron in La Turballe (between Guérande and Pinac-sur-Mer). Maybe a little too earnestly bio and eco but it's a locavore gem if "terroir" is what you're after. Closer to Le Pouliguen, the cash-only no-rezzie Le Derwin in the Hameau les Ajoncs/ La Govelle/ Batz-sur-Mer gets as close as possible to your authentic baulois/ breton restaurant. Crêpes, seafood, and cider. Not, however, undiscovered (and a favourite of vacationing Chiracs when Jacques was president) so you might find yourselves waiting for up to an hour for a table in August. Probably the best strategy for cutting down on the wait is to get there at noon for lunch or 6:30 pm when it opens for dinner. Despite its heritage, great value at 20€.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        Fantastic! That's exactly what I was looking for. While I wouldn't trust Chirac with my virtue, I will trust him with my stomach any day.
        I found recommendations for Le Bistrot de la poissonnerie and Le Saint-Alys in Le Croisic, and I finally managed to track down La Causerie (in the salines), the name of which I couldn't remember, but where I had a very decent meal quite a while ago. Must be 10 years! Any chance you'd have tried these?

        1. re: CleoXymore

          Actually almost all the restos in le Croisic are all so similar and merge into a somewhat blurred memory. But I have eaten at Bistrot de la Poissonnière. Not bad. I found it following my auntie's advice for choosing a restaurant on Le Croisic's quayside "the restaurants with the smallest signs have the best food". I've been to le Saint Alys too and actually prefer it because it's on the other side of the place Dinan and therefore somewhat removed from the tourist tat along the quai de la Petite Chambre. I do remember sweating a lot in le Saint Alys when the sea breeze failed one night. For a splurge and some upmarket cooking (especially the dégustation @ 85 €), I quite like le Fort de l'Océan on the Pointe-du-Croisic (next stop Newfoundland). Sensational little boutique hotel with a lovely restaurant in a dramatic setting on the Côte-Sauvage.

          Although I once lived in Saillé xx years ago (student summer job harvesting fleur de sel ... purgatory!), I've never been to La Causerie but my very finicky aunt (who summers in La Baule) likes it a lot for being less cliché than most other restaurants in the area. And she raves about their gateau nantais. But I don't think there is an outside eating area which might be a deficit in August. And speaking of gateau, I'm a big fan of fondant baulois and it just so happens that there is usually a stand in the Tues+Fri+Sun marché du Pouliguen (in the old town on the place des Halles) that sells some superb examples of fondant baulois and gateau nantais. But a warning for the fondant baulois: ultra-rich and the thinnest of slices (preferably shared) is more than any normal human can handle. There is also an artisan "fabrique" on the boulevard de l'Atlantique (next to a cycle shop and about 100 metres from the Garage des Vins) where I go to buy fondant balois by the dozen for friends and family back in Paris. And speaking of marchés, the area's open air markets are a must-do: in addition to Pouliguen, the daily (except Mon) marché central on the place du Marché/ avenue Ibis in La Baule, Tue+Thu+Sat in Le Croisic, Mon+Fri in Batz-sur-Mer, and Wed+Sat in Guérande (easily the most picturesque and atmospheric... and touristy).

          One more rec that slipped my mind: La Roche Mathieu on the rue du Golf in Batz-sur-Mer (on the Baie du Grand Mathieu). Fabulous unobstructed views of the sea and more than decent --but not unsurprising or foodie-ish-- food. After a few days in the area I usually can't look one more lobster in the eye and shrink at the sight of another crêpe so I order the pigeonneau/ squab. Yummy and messy.

          I've been searching my memory banks for a good (or at least not too tourist trap-y) resto in Guérande (the area's medieval gem) but only a few places come to mind. 1) Au Gré des Marées on the rue Vannetaise. Great seafood at a very endearing price/ quality ratio but 0 points for the utilitarian decor. Considering Guérande's prettiness and the careful cutesiness of the other restaurants there, quite an incongruity. And 2) Au Vieux Logis on the place de la Psalette has a lovely setting (including a sweet terrace in the back), quite decent cooking (with an emphasis on grilled meat), but is firmly on the tourist circuit.Which is not saying much because every restaurant in Guérande is.

          1. re: Parnassien

            That's an awesome list and definitely more than we will have time to handle -- I also need to have some old family favorites (raie au beurre noire, galettes made at home, mussels, anything with pomme de terre des marais, etc.), but that definitely means that we will be visiting markets as well as enjoying restaurants.

            I will report back on uor adventures!

      2. Just reminded by a totally different thread that I forgot to recommend (very heartily) the pastry/ chocolate shop of Georges Larnicol on the rue St Michel in Guérande ... the kouignettes, caramels and macarons are totally delish... although Larnicol has expanded to the rest of France, including Paris, the inspiration and taste remains firmly rooted in Brittany.

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          1. You are within easy range of La Mare aux Oiseaux in Saint Joachim
            (Turn off sound unless you like birdsong...). Pretty room, nice takes on local products.