Eating out – in Le Touquet and Fort Mahon

Restaurant Le Paris (red awning) in Rue de Metz

It was my mother’s 93rd birthday last Monday so we went out for dinner in Le Touquet. She had been using her i-Pad to search for a recommended restaurant and came up with Le Paris, a comfortable, well appointed place in the Rue de Metz, one of Le Touquet’s main shopping streets.

All three of us went for seafood and and were all very pleased with our choices. We ate, three courses each, from the menu at €29.90 and the bill, including a bottle of St Veran and 3 glasses of champagne came to €145. 50. The only problem was parking, because Le Touquet now has some fancy new system that I didn’t immediately understand. On arrival, it appeared that parking in rue de Metz was limited to one hour, but it turned out that I could have parked right outside the restaurant free from 8.00 in the evening until 9.00 the following morning. Unfortunately by the time I found that out, I had parked in a side street some distance away.

restaurant Le Paris, Le Touquet

The interior of "Le Paris"

I have to award a special mention to the dessert chosen by me and my mother.  It was a three-tier Poire Belle Hélène that was totally scrumptious and spectacular as well as generous with the rich chocolate sauce.

Today, Sue and I went for a walk of about 5.5km, from Fort Mahon through the dunes to Quend and back via the bar at the golf club. (You don’t have to be a member to go there). On the way back through the Belle-Dune holiday village we noticed a useful grocery/general store that was open (unusual on a Sunday) and also had a look at the menu posted outside the village restaurant. There is a 3 course menu of the day at €22 euros which looked interesting.

The Belle Dune restaurant is also making an offer which might appeal to Sandboys holiday tenants who don’t want to cook every night of their stay.  The restaurant will do a deal on 3 course meals chosen from its extensive à la carte. Go three times during your stay, or the whole 7 days, if you like, (lunch or dinner time, your choice) and you have a choice of any starter, main course and dessert for 21 euros a head for adults. (I forgot to notice what the children ‘s meal price was.)

The holiday village facilities, including bike hire and occasional evening live music shows, are open to non-residents. Very handy if you’re holidaying at Sandboys Dune and want a change from the restaurants and brasseries in the town, as it’s only a short walk.  Its also walkable from Sandboys Pearl, though it is a little farther.  However, if you take the car, parking is easy and free.

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Sandboys Christmas

It’s been a quiet time for us this last week before Christmas.  Since we only buy presents for family who live in Guernsey or the UK, nearly all our Christmas shopping is done online several weeks in advance.  This year we sent gifts from the Loch Fyne, Bucktrout’s and Rock the Boat online shops.  We also bought some craft items at the Montreuil Christmas Craft Fair a couple of weeks ago.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, we’re celebrating with a Christmas dinner at La Verrière in Berck, where we’re sure of excellent food and friendly service in comfortable surroundings.

After Christmas we look forward to the arrival of Mr and Mrs Macpherson at our Garden Studio apartment on Tuesday, and the Robson family at Sandboys Pearl on Friday.

Happy Christmas and Cheers!

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A Hot Monday in France : with a Parrot!

Wow! It was hot today

– and there was work to do, so there was no way a lazy day was in prospect. We got started early when M. Lannoy, the occasional gardener arrived at The White House. While he got busy in the early morning warmth we prepared the Garden Studio apartment for the next guests after the departure, yesterday, of regular visitors, the Griffiths.

By the way, the Griffiths tried the restaurant at Berck that we reviewed in our last blog post. They loved it and even went back there a second time during their 6 night stay. I seem to remember they also like the Auberge du Bahot, a little country-style place in the neighbouring village, but it’s not open on Mondays whereas “Les Pieds Dans L’Eau” at Berck is.

Our garden provides some shady places on a hot day

The West wing and Garden Studio apartment seen from a shady place in the garden

After the housework and some office work it was time to go out in the garden. By this time it was really hot, somewhere around 28 degrees in the shade. Of course, when you’re working in the garden there is no shade – at least, not when you’re mowing the lawn there’s not. Still I would rather have that job than the one Sue was doing – kneeling on the hot ground pulling weeds out of the flower beds. At least while you’re mowing you can look over the hedge and watch people passing by. Today a man, a holidaymaker I guessed by his clothes, went by on a bike with a parrot on the handlebars. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera on me, and anyway I was taken so much by surprise that he had gone before I could have taken a snap even if I’d had one.

There’s plenty of time to let the mind wander as you push a mower, so a plethora of questions formed in my mind. Was it his pet parrot, or had it just flown down and perched on the handlebars for a ride? Would it take off from time to time for a quick bird’s eye view of the terrain, or did it prefer to let the cyclist do all the work? Would it talk to the rider, give directions, perhaps, or even swear at him if he took a wrong turning? What would happen if the parrot was spotted by a hawk? Thinking about all these possibilities took my mind off the tedium of mowing, and even the discomfort of the heat.

It eventually got too hot to mow any more, so we both stopped for lunch. Soon, though, it was time for a major shopping trip to the supermarket (it’s less busy there between 12h00 and 14h00). And at least it was nice and cool in the shop.

After the shopping there was laundry to collect from one of the Fort Mahon houses and more office work to do – bookings to confirm and payment reminders to send, while Sue did gite laundry and ironing (another hot job). Finally it cooled off enough outside to go out and do some more mowing. At 17h30 the mower ran out of petrol. There was more in the jerry can but I took the hint and called it a day.

M. Lannoy continued his hedge trimming until 18h00. He had worked solidly in the blazing heat since 08h30, taking only an hour’s rest in the shade of our avenue of pines, at around 12h30, for his lunch.

Bravo! M. Lannoy. Thanks for working hard in the sun on a hot day – and for seeming to enjoy it.

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Restaurant and holiday weather update

We eventually managed to go back and eat at the Restaurant “Les Freres Caudron” at Rue.

The food was good brasserie standard, and the servings generous.  The house white was a very reasonable Chardonnay.  It’s a big restaurant and, on the Saturday evening when we went, it was absolutely packed.

This might explain why the service was rather too slow, so that after two courses and a long wait we decided to skip the desert and go home for ice-cream and coffee.  The price was reasonable and the surroundings comfortable – until we had waited so long the chairs began to feel a bit hard – so we have only the service to complain about.  Perhaps this was a particularly busy nght, or maybe they were short-staffed, but whatever the reason, Les Freres Caudron will have to up their game if they want to compete with the impressively high standards of service and value you’ll always get at our favourite restaurant, La Terasse at Fort Mahon.

The restaurant at the Hotel La Terasse at Fort Mahon Plage

The seafront restaurant at Hotel La Terasse - excellent service and good value always.

We’ll no doubt be checking out Les Freres Caudron again soon, and will hope to see a marked improvement, as it’s always good to have several equally good, economical, and reliable restaurants to choose from when you’re on holiday.

Today saw the departure of the Sylvesters who had, they wrote in the Visitors’ Book, enjoyed an excellent week at Sandboys Dune.  Even the weather was good, they said.  It certainly was – yet another week passes with no rain and the grass in Fort Mahon gardens is so dry, yellow and shrivelled it’s almost disappeared.  Fortunately France seems rarely to run out of water in its reservoirs, though, and there’s no talk of hosepipe bans or any other limitations on use yet.

Let’s hope the weather stays good for our next arrivals, the Woottons, the Herberts, and the Smarts. Perhaps they’ll be able to recommend some other restaurants.

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A Saturday night out for the Sandboys

Saturday is usually a working day for us. Every Saturday in the summer, and many out-of-season Saturdays, are “changeover” days for our holiday gites and apartment. As we insist on preparing each gite ourselves it can be quite a hard days work. We now have 3 gites, and on a 3-way changeover day they all have to be thoroughly cleaned and prepared between 10am and 4pm. This gives us just enough time to do all the jobs – and a little over for any unexpected problems such as defrosting fridges, fixing blown fuses and breakages, unblocking washing machines, etc. There’s sometimes even enough time for a quick sandwich at lunchtime.

It used to be tougher. There was a time when we had 5 gites – 2 at the seaside and 3 in the country – but we decided to reduce the number when we found we needed to employ helpers to cope. We are supposed to be semi-retired, after all!

So, on Saturdays if the work has not been too tiring, we often treat ourselves to a meal out at one of our local restaurants. One of our favourites is the Restaurant La Terrasse, on the seafront at Fort Mahon. It’s only about 10 minutes from our home, and it’s open almost every day of the year, so it is particularly handy in winter when many other places have closed down. But the main reason why we like it so much is that it is very French, usually busy, but always ready to find space for you if it’s possible, even without a reservation. The fixed price menus start at the reasonable price of 18 euros, but for a special occasion you can go for the Menu Gourmand which includes lobster and champagne at 55 euros per head. We’ve never had a bad meal there.

Last Saturday, however, we made a typically late decision to eat out, and decided to try the newly refurbished brasserie restaurant at the Hotel des Freres Caudron, at Rue, a pretty market town about 13 kilometres away.

Brasserie "Les Freres Caudron" at Rue - formerly the Lion D'Or

This hotel used to be called the Lion D’Or, but last year it was taken under new management, greatly smartened up over the winter, and reopened under its new name in February. We thought we would give it a try, and strolled into the place, early for dining, at about 7.15pm. It certainly looked smart, and the menu was enticing, too, so we were very disappointed to be told that we couldn’t dine because they were already booked up. As we’re still in March, with not many tourists about, this must mean the place has already become very popular with the locals. In France there is no higher recommendation. You can forget your Michelin and Gault Millau guides, if the locals crowd into a place it must be good.

We made a mental note to make sure to book next time, and not to wait too long, because if there’s a really good new place to eat in our area, we need to try it out and make our own judgement. So far the indications for “Les Freres Caudron” are good.

So we ended up once again at La Terrasse – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and enjoyed an excellent meal with, in spite of a full dining room, the usual exceptionally attentive service.  Not bad for only 48 euros.

You really can’t go wrong when you stick to the places where the locals eat.

Brasserie Les Freres Caudron,
5, rue de la Barriere,
80120 RUE
Téléphone: +33 (0)3 22 25 00 66

Hotel La Terasse,
Avenue de la Plage
80120 FORT-MAHON-PLAGE

Téléphone: +33 (0)3 22 23 37 77

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