Tour de France – Part deux

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The Tour de France continued throughout September. Four weeks of girth enhancing gourmandary and unlike the real Tour de France…. no drugs!!

Apologies to one’s loyal followers, the excursion took it’s toll and has severely hampered one’s posts. However, one visited many interesting eateries which should interest one’s readers. Only two days back in blighty and then one struck out fro the “Tour de North England and Scotland” which further reduced one’s literary capacity. There is much to tell, including the marvellous 21 course, four and half hour dinner at L’enclume in Cartmel in the beautiful Lake District. That will be the subject of a later blog..Read on!

So, back to one’s Tour de France – Part deux…. As one might remember Fortescue and I had reached St. Tropez. We waved goodbye to our generous French hosts and pootled off to the eye-catchingly attractive, medieval walled town of Carcassonne. Full of tourists,  one was somewhat perturbed by the crowds but as the clock struck 7 they departed. Alas, good restaurants are not easy to find within the ramparts. Suffice to say that there are many mediocre restaurants but one that stands out is Barbacane with its Michelin star. Alas, we did not have the capacity for such gourmandish pleasures and opted to eat in less refined establishments.

In this area of France it seems that menu options are limited. Foie gras, duck confit, cassoulet and tarte tatin are offered in every restaurant which rather limits one’s options.

From here, we ventured to Collioure on the coast near Spain. It has been the subject of paintings by many famous artists including Picasso, Derain, Chagall and Matisse. One is immediately struck by its beauty and by the lack of parking! Once again tourists abound but has views from many aspects. One found a very good restaurant where one dined al fresco…in the rain…under a parasol. The weather was not kind to us on this day, Harrumph! For those who might visit it was called Le Jardin de Collioure and has a small amount of free parking. Well worth knowing! One will point you to the Trip Advisor review here so as not to drone on. One chose the fish of the day which was a bad choice. It was an overcooked fillet of local fish. However as one the saw fresh, whole Sea Bream being served to everyone else and being filleted at the table one realised that one’s choice had not been wise. However one was taken by the more refined, less touristy atmosphere, the friendly service and two items on the table. Firstly a Vinaigre de Banyuls which was a welcome alternative to balsamic vinegar and secondly a divine olive oil from a company called Papillon.

Then onwards to the hallowed grounds of Bordeaux. A miniature version of Paris without the attitude. Here one had some wonderful dining experiences. In Gabriel & Albert – no menu, a hearty and very friendly welcome from le patron, Guillaume Henin and then you are launched into whatever he fancied in the market that morning for lunch. Mes amis, t’was delightful. Frobisher passed over his snails (he is not one for the little blighters). but he ate the salad, ouef en cocotte, saucisson, rosette de lyons, gambas, beetroot…oof!  Guillaume likes his food and he loves rugby and he has the physique to match. One would advise one’s followers to just go. It is a quaint and authentic experience and the large glass of Banyuls that he proferred after lunch went down very well. So much so that one now has a bottle in one’s wine cellar. Any takers?

Then, there was A Cantina. A Corsican restaurant with a big reputation and recommended by a young northern lass who served us coffee in one of the myriad street cafés. Having failed on first attempt, we booked a couple of days in advance. It is a brasserie/wine bar downstairs and a restaurant upstairs. The young lady serving was delightful and recommended what might be best to eat. One had fish of the day washed down with a Corsican wine.

Then there was Nouailles which served typical French Brasserie food in a classic French style Brasserie. Possibly geared a bit too much to tourists and the food was served incredibly quickly. We were out in less than an hour even though we asked the waiter to slow down.

Oh, and then ther was the cheese restaurant Baud Millet that offered a meal solely of cheese from the cheese cellar. Eat as much as you like. It was like being locked in Paxton and Whitfield or one’s favourite cheese shop, Rippon Cheese in Pimlico. But oh, the gluttony…

However, a major disappointment was had on one’s visit to Ch. Haut Smith Lafitte. This was going to be  grand lunch set in the glorious vineyards but the restaurant La Table du Lavoir which seems little more than a tourist trap posing as a serious venue. This is not the Michelin starred restaurant which forms part of the property. One had pork which was overcooked and Frobisher ordered some new teeth for his steak which was must have come from Michelin due to the amount of rubber that it seemed to contain.  Frobisher ordered nougat glace as his dessert and was served with peach sorbet in a raspberry sauce with no apologies for the fact that they had run out. (This was due to the coach party of 20 that arrived next to us). However, he refused to complain – silly old bugger.  At least there was the wine to savour. So don’t eat here if your expect gourmet food, it’s just a bistro and not that good either. Anyhow, “one is ranting”. I hear you say. Ahem, yes. Sorry.

One will now cease this missive and will regale you of the further exploits to La Rochelle, Chinon, Rouen and St Omer in another instalment. A tout a l’heure mes amis.

Your ever so humble Doctor

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Categories: Anecdotes, France, French, Outside the UK

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