L’Ermitage, just down the road from the UNESCO World Heritage site Mont St-Michel, combines a luxury hotel and a fine restaurant in a 19th century coach inn, carefully renovated this year. Chef Guillaume Leroux, previously at various Michelin-starred restaurants such as l’Arpège and Chez Camdeborde in Paris, has put together a subtle and innovative cuisine, with all ingredients seasonal and sourced from within 100km. Try especially the Salade de Homard (lobster salad). There is a fine collection of single malt whiskeys assembled by noted expert John Glaser of Compass Box, and if you arrive for your afternoon cuppa, the excellent tea assortment has been put together by Harney & Sons. The dining room gives onto a broad terrace set in landscaped gardens.
L’Ermitage Mont St-Michel
14 Route du Mont St-Michel
Adjoining the newly-opened Paléospace Odyssée, a charming small museum dedicated to France’s Jurassic coast at Villers-sur-Mer, Le Marais opened in May 2011, the creation of Frédéric Jurek and Stella Vaux, both from Yvelines. Fred directed a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris for 7 years, and their young chef Yann Tedone (28) has developed a striking cuisine around his fascination with combining ‘mer et terre’ (surf and turf), and devoted to using the freshest local products in audacious combinations. Try, for example, his sea bass with poultry sauce, or the ‘côte de veau’ (veal steak) with Isigny oysters, passion fruit seeds and white balsamic vinegar. The sober but elegant black-and-raspberry decor features glass doors giving onto an expansive terrace with panoramic views over the coastal marshes which gives the restaurant its name.
Avenue Jean Moulin
Just down the road, on the outskirts of Deauville, the restaurant Le Grand Manège extends it welcome at the heart of the Pôle International du Cheval, the International Equestrian Centre. Named after, and giving onto the vast interior riding ring, the Manège serves up a pleasant assortment of brasserie-style dishes, as well as a daily featured menu Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Le Grand Manège
Pôle International du Cheval
14 Avenue Ox and Bucks
The newly-opened Rive Droite is housed in a lovely 18th century building which was once a lace museum, a craft for which Alençon was famous. Under the same proprietorship as the long-established and highly-regarded luxury château-hotel of Saint-Paterne on the outskirts of the town, the Rive Droite has recently welcomed Chef Christophe Renou back from a lengthy stay abroad, including a couple of years at the Aubergine in Chelsea, London. Here his seasonal menu relies on local produce, and often takes inspiration from the culinary works of the owner, Charles-Henry de Valbray, specialities including Côtes de Boeuf Normandie, and squid risotto with cuttlefish ink. The wine list features affordable and wholesome small vintages from around France. There are several very pleasant dining areas: the Orangerie is elegant, and offers views over the terrace along the Sarthe; the Salon Chinois is available for private groups and has a pleasing oriental decor. The Terrasse looks out onto the Pont Neuf; take your tea in the shade of a majestic sycamore, or a candle-lit dinner on a summer night. The Salon Rose is a colourful and elegant lounge for an afternoon tea with patisseries or glace, or that apéritif before dinner.
31-33 Rue du Pont Neuf
Le Bistrot des Ecuries is located in Boissy-Maugis in the Regional National Park of the Perche, the ancestral home of the famous Percheron draft horses. Created by Ulrike Rudolph (Austria) and Sandrine Strauch to combine their twin loves of wine and horses, the Bistrot occupies a pleasantly-converted early 18th century farmhouse overlooking the Huisne River. In addition to a B&B in progress, it offers riding instruction on all levels, for individuals or groups, courses in jumping, and horseback wanders through the delightful surrounding forestland. The Bistrot’s restaurant serves up a menu of simple but hearty and authentic dishes made from local produce, with an emphasis on Austrian cuisine, naturally. You can choose between comfortable dining areas either in front of the grand Percheron fireplace, up the cast-iron staircase onto two cozy mezzanine areas, or in good weather on the 60sqm terrace overlooking the riding area and the Huisne. Mains can feature Truite à l’Amande, pan-fried chicken Austrian style, or leg of rabbit with blueberry confiture and juniper berries, and for dessert try the Sachertorte or the Wienerstrudel of apple and rhubarb. There is also a wine bar for wine-tasting and purchasing, with vintages from France, Austria, and Italy.
Le Bistrot des Ecuries
L'Ermitage - Salade de Homard
L'Ermitage - Malt Whisky selection
L'Ermitage - Restaurant