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Normandy Report - Bayeux, Port-en-Bessin, Granville

Meandering around between tapestries, cathedrals and cemeteries... after several brief visits, our first time spending an entire week in the region.

Gite - Un Bateau sous mon Transat, Port-en-Bessin-Huppain
After much research on the web, and trying to find a spot with a sea view, we rented this very nice gite in this busy little harbor town. We are overlooking the protected bay, just along the quai and paces from the Halle aux Poissioniers, where each day (sauf Lundi) one can wander in here in the morning and buy fresh fish directly from the fishermen and their families. The gite has a very well equipped kitchen, and if a festival of cooking fresh fish is your idea of heaven you could do no better than here. The weekly Sunday morning market was well stocked, and the three small supermarche in town (two of which were a short walk from the gite) were more than adequate. There are two boulangeres within walking distance, one only open in the morning, but both owned by the same person. At the bakery along the quai we found the specialty of the town, the Brassiliere, which is a pastry very similar to a Kouign Amann, but flatter, the size of a small platter, and so rich, sweet and buttery we swooned. The sweet elderly couple that run the Proxi import bread from Bayeaux and have a lovely selection of cheeses and farm fresh eggs. Finally, the Epicerie Fine along the quai has excellent regional products and wine and calva.

Le P’Tit Resto, 2 Rue de la Bienvenue, Bayeux
Houndies had mentioned this place, and we were surprised to find it right across from the Cathedral. Not more than 20 seats, but very contemporary and comfortable. Small amuse of crème d’escargot in a tiny, chilled custard with some parsley and a tartare of cabillaud. Started with a Sautéed St. Jacques with radish, corn and cream and followed with a Roulade of Pintad stuffed with chorizo and roasted and served with jus. Bman had the Pintad and followed with an intriguing dessert of layered cake and ice cream and crème Anglaise and a very good red pepper sauce. 59€ including a demi of Samur, for 15€ and coffees.

Later in the week we returned for dinner. We had kirs and I started with a slightly odd boulette de fois gras which was rolled in peanuts and had a figgy jelly sauce on the plate. True, the foie had a peanut butter in this context, but the peanuts overpowered, ultimately. B had a risotto with ham, arugula and a thin crackly emmental cracker and a “Burger” de Canard avec pomme purée et sauce foie gras. I had the same pintade though this time it was served inside out, with a thin layer of chorizo wrapping the pintade. A shared dessert that, as the menu explained, was a deconstructed Snickers Bar: Mars has nothing to worry about…. 107€, of which 45€ was for a bottle of nice Mercury.

Hotel de France, Isigny sur Mer.
Thought we’d briefly explore the town where the famous butter comes from. The shop at the factory, indeed, also sold many cheeses and various cheese and buttet accoutrements. On our way into town spotted a waning (in the rain) marché and were enticed into a little shared snack of grilled saucisson, on a baguette with mustard because the line was long and the smell so mouth-watering. Okay and we might have also shared a little container of frites too… it was cold and rainy… what other defense do we have than sustenance… Actual lunch was taken at the Hotel de France on Rue Emile Demagny, just down from the town square where the market was. The ardoise promised a very reasonable formule for dejeurner and it was fine. We had the Hachis Parmentière, made with nice shredded beef (far preferable to ground) and I started with a small plate of Jambon de Normandie and a few greens. Bman finished with a dessert and we each had coffee. 34.90€, including the carafe 7.5€

Fleur de sel, Port-en Bessin, Quai Felix Faure
There are a handful of restaurants in this small port town. We were told this is the best of them. Started with the Terrine de fois gras and followed with (it is, after all, St. Jacques season…) the Poêle St. Jacques. Bman had the Tournedos de canard. All perfectly fine. 90.5€ total including the 37€ pouilly fume

L’Angle Saint Laurent, 2 Rue Des Bouchers,Bayeux
Our aimiable and talented (gite décor was univocal, comfy and refined) locutrice had recommended this place in Bayeux and we enjoyed it as well. It had a handsome interior with a couple of connected rooms and cozy, intimate lighting. A Crème de Foie Gras amuse was served, and then we both started with Veloute Forestier which in addition to the oncteuse champignons had a few bits of ham and an oeuf mollet in the center. Yummy. Then I had the Bœuf de basse Normandie which was quite good and Bman had Supreme de volaille, sauce champignons et des chataignes et une pomme cuite au four. A fromages (les trois Normandiase) and a chocolate stacked sort of millefeuille for Bman. 120€ with a Mercurey première cru, 48€.

Restaurant du Port, 19 Rue du Port, Granville
It has been raining for months in Normandy, and there are innondations everywhere and closed roads to prove it. Today is another one of those days. We had meant to get a bit further afield than we had thus far so we decide to hop in the car and head to Granville, maybe go on to Mt. Saint Michel or up toward Cherbourg. But the rain is heavy, and the fog occasionally thick, so by the time we get to Granville we know we’re in the you-might-just-be-too-late-to-be-served-lunch Zone. Fortunately, this spot on the Quai is happy to let us in at 13:50 (!) but just… They served a small pot of Rillette de porc as an amuse, and I had a Kir Norman (made with cidre and cassis) and then an Assiette de Crudités (carrot râpée, beet salad, tomato salade, 2 oeuf dur, and um…. Corn salad….). My main Paella, and B had Salade Chèvre Chaud which included a healthy heap of lardons as well and Escalope de Dinde. 52€, including 9€ for 50cl rosé.

Chateau de Brouay, Brouay, France
We got a chance to taste the divine Calvados at this this 6th-generation family-run Chateau between Caen and Bayeux. Would love to have purchased 4 bottles to get us through the year. Smooth.... so smooth.

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  1. Good info on this area. A question, please. You did not buy your 4 bottles to bring home because... The hassle of transport or they don't sell en detail?

    1. Our timing was off, but they do sell in lovely artisan bottles that come in a handsome wooden box. Another reminder to buy it when you see it (or taste it)...

      1. Gman
        I just read your report. We are staying in the same gite in Port-en-Bessin in September. Can't wait!
        Thanks for the feedback on restaurants. We will definitely go to these as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: CMichaelis

          Have a great time! Don't miss the Brassiliere! I can still see the boats going out in the middle of the night...

        2. Gman
          At the risk of sounding dumb, what is a Brassiliere?? I looked it up and only got info about women's bras!
          I'm assuming it has something to do with the fishing boats.

          6 Replies
          1. re: CMichaelis

            Mentioned in my second paragraph above: a pastry specialty of the town. We found out about them from some locals who told us not to miss them. Very much like a Kouing Amman but larger. Buttery, sweet, dense, moist... Really good. They sell them whole ( about the size of a small, flat ciabatta ) or cut in half. (Shown below with baguette for scale!)

             
            1. re: Gman

              Gman
              Than so much for clarifying that! Somehow I missed the connection with that word. They look delicious. I can promise that we won't miss them!
              I'll report back. I still owe chowhound a report from our Christmas trip.

              1. re: Gman

                It's wonderful to be able to discover micro-regional cuisine in France. Spend some time in the provinces and you will see just how limited a view of French cuisine we have elsewhere.

                Thanks for sharing the pic and description. This is a new one on me.

                1. re: Gman

                  I've been known to use a U.S. quarter in a photo, for scale. But a baguette is much more civilized (not to mention delicious and more photogenic) that I will have to rethink that. ;-)

                  Btw, I've enjoyed all your reports. Thanks so much for sharing - love the detail.

                  1. re: VaPaula

                    Via - I now have a vision of you strolling around with a baguette at the ready just in case.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      :-) Strolling around with a baguette anywhere in France sounds wonderful right about now...

              2. Hello! Did you call ahead of the Chateau de Brouay or did you just stop by? I am having trouble finding information online...

                1 Reply
                1. re: ahw001

                  ahw001 - was hooked up through a friend but if you're in the neighb. I'd try stopping by...