So, if you whizz to Chartres, just a short jaunt to the southwest of Paris, you will find the great French Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. It was constructed between 1194 and 1250 and is well worth a visit as it has been greatly restored. On Summer evenings in Chartres all major buildings come alive with dancing projections and in the case of the Cathedral, some atmospheric music blasting across the courtyard. This is quite a common spectacle in the cathedral towns of France.
If you are not into old buildings, the good news is that a Michelin star restaurant lies within spitting distance of the Cathedral. Le Georges is a modern restaurant tucked away in Le Grand Monarque Hotel which is well worth a stay if you are travelling this way. Forstescue and I were on our cultural tour and collecting more cathedrals as we chugged our way around France. It was our first stop and we stayed for two days. Having eaten in Le Georges a few months earlier we determined that we would eat there two nights in a row. Mon dieu!
Both nights we chose the 75 Euro Discovery menu which was great value. The meal was accompanied by amuse bouches, pre-desserts and the like. We had not been disappointed previously and this time we were equally happy with the quality of the food. Staff were attentive and welcomed a chat if they had a spare moment. The wine waiter was also knowledgeable. Of course your dear doctor conversed in fluent French with them..ahem…well it sounded French to me.
Now as you should all know Fortescue is not one to try too many new things and he’s not a great fan of mackerel or any fish with bones. So it was a bit of disappointment to him when he saw the first course below. Pickled mackerel. However he is a real stalwart and ate it all with a smile. Or was that a grimace?
The chef had decided that the Discovery menu would be a fishy affair that first evening. Poor old Fortescue. As we all know, old cook keeps him happy back in blighty by serving up regular helpings of meat and two veg. However, all was not lost as he had dessert to which to look forward and by now you should all know that he loves dessert. Especially if contains meringue or meringue or meringue.
After dinner we left the hotel to see the illuminations and it started pouring with rain. We pressed on nevertheless clutching our hotel umbrellas. We visited most of the illuminations and finished our tour with the Cathedral whilst it continued to rain on us. We finally made our way home and 50 feet from the hotel entrance the rain stopped. Don’t you just love weather?
On the second night, we realised that we had made a mistake. Two nights in a row of rich, michelin star hospitality was too much and we were unable to do the meal justice. The main dish was sweetbreads which our young waiter had recommended as his absolute favourite. It was a generous portion. We both looked at eachother and I could hear the inner groan of Fortescue as he too realised that we had bitten off more than we could chew. Nevertheless, stalwart that he is, Fortescue made extra space for dessert as it was too good to miss.
The Grand Monarque made a video of their hotel which has some interesting footage from the early days of this family owned restaurant. Take a look even if you don’t speak French. Next stop CLERMONT FERRAND, home to Monsieur Michelin.
BEST WESTERN Hôtel Le Grand Monarque
22 Place des Epars
Tel: +33 2 37 18 15 15