Normandy/Bayeux Report, July 2012
The following is a report on our breif visit to the Normandy region:
We arrived in Bayeux at lunchtime on a Monday and went directly to our Hotel Reine Mathilde. This is a very comfortable and convenient hotel. We received a room in the hotel's new building which is separate from the original hotel but only 30 yards from the main hotel and beautifully set along the river.
We decided to just eat lunch at the restaurant at Hotel Reine Mathilde and were pleasantly surprised. I had the special of the day, a rosted chicken dish with provencial vegetables and it was nicely done. My daughter had a pizza which was also good and my wife had an omlette which she enjoyed. The restaurant has a nice covered patio area and the service was prompt and very friendly. Overall, a very nice experience.
That evening my wife and I had dinner at Le Petit Normand. This meal was quite possible our least favorite of our entire 3 week trip to France. The restaurant was very warm and the service was incredibly slow. My wife started with a very average onion soup and I had the most bland galette of ham, potatoes, cheese and cream. Next, I had a very nicely prepared skate with a good creamy sauce but it was accompanied by an spinach side dish that was inedible. My wife tried the rib steak but it was very tough. For dessert, my wife had a tarte tatin which she took one bite and put down her fork and pushed it away. I faired better with a nice pair crepe which was not bad. Overall, this place was a disaster for us.
The next day we explored all of the landing beaches on D-Day. For lunch, we stopped in the town of Grandcamp-Maisy which is just below Pointe-du-Hac. We had lunch at a quaint little restaurant on the beach named, Le Plage. This restaurant is just down from the Ranger Museum. It was a beautiful summer day and we ate outside on their deck which thankfully is protected from the wind. We had a seafood feast. The Moules frites was the highlight of this lunch. For 10.50 euro, the three of us could barely finish all of the mussels and the broth they were cooked in was outstanding. I also tried some local oysters which were sweet and briny. My wife tried the langoustines which were good but tough to get at the meat. Finally, my daughter had the scallops which were also excellent. We tried a large bottle of the local cider biere with lunch which was nice. In total our lunch was right at 50 euro for all that seafood which was a great deal.
For dinner we returned to Bayeux and tried Le P'tit Restro, in a word -- amazing. This is a fun little restaurant just down from the entrance of the cathedral. The staff is very nice and helpful, it is very modern with lots of fun glassware and plating. My wife had an excellent Salmon mousse for a starter and I had a foie gras with apples and bacon with a delicious caramel sauce. My daughter skipped the starter and opted for the cheese course. For our entrees, my daughter had a duck "burger" which was strips of duck breast on a bun and very good. My wife had a very nice monfish which was served with quinoa and also good. I opted for the rabbit served with almond prune rissoto which was interesting and tasty. My daughter's cheese course may have been the best item of the evening, although I think everyone had their favorites. It was blue cheese with almonds and currants or white raisons which had been finely chopped and then molded into a loaf pan and sliced. It was very tasty we eaten all together. For dessert, I had a great pair tarte with blackberry sorbet, extremely fresh and clean. My wife had what they called a strawberry marshmellow which was very inventive and tasty and my daughter had a chocolate "brownie" with ice cream, which she inhaled. I would highly recommend restaurant.
The next day we went to Mont Saint Michel and just grabbed a sandwich on the island. That night we returned to Bayeux and my daughter was tired and wanted to stay in, so we ordered her a pizza from the hotel restaurant and she had room service. My wife and I decided to try the wine bar that was about a 30 second walk from our hotel. We had been there on our first night for some wine and cheese and it was very nice and the owner is most accommodating. The name of the restaurant is Le Volet qui Penche, the sign is very small just look for the sign that says Cave Bistro. It is along an alley just down from the tourist office and along the river.
This is both a wine store and a restaurant. The menu is pretty limited but the food is outstanding. There is one menu of the day, a few salads and sandwiches. The menu on the day we ate their was a starter of charcuterie which was made in house and most excellent. As a bonus, the owner gave us some of his homemade wine sorbet, both white and red both were really good. The entree was beef tongue braised in a tomato sauce which I tried and was outstanding. It was very tender and had great flavor. My wife opted for an openfaced type sandwich which had ham, potatoes and cheese and was toasted with a nice green salad. It was good but not as good as the tongue. The dessert was a chantilly cream dessert which was fine but not very memorable. Even if you decide not to have dinner here, please stop by and have a glass of wine and some cheese or charcuterie, you will not be sorry.
The next morning we decided to try somewhere in town for breakfast because the breakfast at the hotel was fine but nothing exciting. We stopped at a little shop on Rue Saint James, this is the main street and on the same side of the street as the tourist office. Sorry, I cannot remember the name of this place but it looks mainly like a bakery and sweet shop. It is right next to a bar/tobbaco shop where all the locals gather. We had a very nice breakfast of quiche and breakfast sandwiches followed by the most amazing meringues. Very good tea and coffee as well.
The man who owns the shop is a recognized pastry chef and has clippings in the window, it should not be hard to find.
Finally, before we caught our train we had a quick lunch at Au Louis d'Or which is a nice crepe restaurant. It is just across the street from Le P'tit Restro. My daughter had a basic ham and cheese galette. My wife had a cheeseburger galette which she said was good. But I had the best, a galette with smoked duck, goat cheese and cooked apples and a nice green salad. Very fresh and clean. We passed on the dessert crepes although they looked good because we had sweets from our breakfast place to eat on the train.
Overall, there was some good food to be found in Bayeux and Normandy if you look.
Thanks for the report. We too, had a fantastic meal at Le P'tit Resto and I have recommended it a couple of times here as well. The wine bar sounds interesting, we missed that one!
I never like to go to places high on the tourist lists. The Reine Mathilde does have a lovely outdoor patio that is perfect for lunch. We also had a unique meal atg a quirky place, Trou Normand. It's on the edge of town out of the historic area-- few tourists. They put the tables insida a big cider barrel. Very unique. Food was good, lots of cider sauces, and they serve the cider in teacups. In Normandy, one usually substitutes cider for wine.
Thank ou so much for writing back. All good info on an area that does is not well covered on this board.
In general, a wine bar that serves food is always a safe bet. super hound Jock gave me this great tip: people who love food don't necessarily love wines, but people who love wines are always keen about ftheir food. They aren't going to eat mediocre stuff with their well-researched crus. So if you are in a town you are not familar with, and have not done extensive research, stake out a good wine shop. When you buy a bottle or two, ask the caviste for resto recommendations.
Failing that, a cave à manger attached to a wine shop usually has honest stuff that does not disappoint, and is often not expensive.