La Mare aux Oiseaux, San Jaochim (near Nantes)
La Mare aux Oiseaux is difficult to categorize. High standard of service, quite comfortable accommodation, a rising young chef and lots of exotic birds on a complex of islands abutting a national preserve. Our (superior) room was spacious, bedding, robes and towels luxe, a deck overlooking the preserve. At all times there was staff available for any need.
We enjoyed the house aperitif outside in the garden...with the birds, one with an extraordinary yellow mohawk. Inside, the dining room was filled with visitors to the inn and locals celebrating special occasions. There were several levels of menu and since this was our 16th dinner out, we chose the small one. 4 courses with amuses, palate refreshers, pre-desserts and mignardises, quite enough to say the least. Eric Guerin is a rising young chef whose plates are indeed beautiful and well executed. Between us, we ordered everything on the menu: crunchy salad with burrata and flying fish glace; a faux tarte of rice, shellfish and snails; just cooked through seared eel; similarly just cooked pork.
I will be honest and say that I could not really appreciate this dinner because I was suffering from Parigi's dreaded "too many big meals in a row" syndrome. I felt the place lacked soul, but maybe it was I who was lacking receptors. I left much and still was sated, vowing all night to skip breakfast in the morning, which of course we did not.
Breakfast was excellent! Fresh juices, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, meat and cheese, Bordier (wow) as well as goat and sheep yogurts, eggs cooked to your order. DH had the oeufs sur le plat which were beautiful.
So: very strong welcome and service, quite nice room, a good dinner and lovely breakfast. Secure parking across the street. And weird birds. What's not to like?
The food is indeed superb. But the place is more "Breizh zen" than soulless, I think. And I got totally turned on by the incongruity of such a place stuck in the middle of the Brière marshes. Did you and DH get the chance to go "en chaland"/ punt through the waterways? Quite magical.