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Discussion in 'Cookery' started by scottjw, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. I am driving over to France next Monday. Mainly sticking to the north and West of the country. I was wondering what culinary delights people would recommend from this gastro nation?

    Also, if there was a 'travel' forum (I am shocked there isn't), I would ask where in the north and west people would recommend going? We want charm, history and culture.

    Thank you, Scott
  2. I am driving over to France next Monday. Mainly sticking to the north and West of the country. I was wondering what culinary delights people would recommend from this gastro nation?

    Also, if there was a 'travel' forum (I am shocked there isn't), I would ask where in the north and west people would recommend going? We want charm, history and culture.

    Thank you, Scott
  3. Ooh yes, I'd be interested in this too as we're off to Dinan soon. Hope you don't think I'm hijacking your thread, scott!
  4. Jump in, the more people showing interest the better. Where do you have planned so far?
  5. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    More information needed please:
    number of people - children? ages?
    interests? other than charm history and culture
    where are you staying?
    how are you travelling?
    do you speak french?

  6. 2 people - Aged 25 and 23 (though act more like 35).

    Food, charm, history, culture, nature, scenery, photography,

    Staying wherever we land, probably Formule 1, B&B etc.

    Travelling by car

    Very little french
  7. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    I assume you are taking a ferry on a western crossing, arriving somewhere west of le Harvre?
    In that section of the country I would suggest you visit Rouen, Caen, Bayeux - all mediaeval town with strong links to British history. Falaise is a good visit too.
    Or the Normandy beaches which are just east on the Cotentin.
    If you are crossing to Cherbourg, take your time going through the coastal towns and fishing harbours of the Cotentin before joining the hoardes of Americans, Japanese and school children visiting Mont St Michel. Despite the tourists, it is definitely worth seeing.
    If staying that far north, I would suggest you head due west to explore Brittany - ladies still in black with lace head-dresses, countryside that is like Cornwall but a bit more dramatic. Stop in St Brieuc and pop up to Perros Guirec via the coast road - la cote du granit rose - for amazing views. At the far western end is Pointe du Raz, the most westerly point in France and just below it is a gorgeous beach. Heading back east takes you to Guingamp and then Carnac with all its wonderful standing stones.
    Rennes is also a nice town to visit with a mediaeval heart and modern outskirts.
    If you feel like heading south from that point, you hit the Atlantic coast in Loire Atlantique with its fabulous wide sandy beaches and a seaside town every few kilometres. This part can be very crowded in summer, but its popularity just proves its worth. Salt pans and marshes abound at the edge of the ocean and fruits de mer abound. Even the smallest restaurant is likely to offer oysters, langoustine etc.
    Heading inland from Nantes, you follow the Loire towards Paris and it isn't long before you reach the famous châteaux; several only charge for visits to the inside and the gardens are available for a wander free of charge. One of my favourites is Chenonceau which straddles teh river.
    If you aren't seaside people, the countryside south and west of Rouen, following the Seine, is very pretty and Monet's garden at Giverny is worth a visit if you are into that sort of thing.

    Normandy is queen of cream, apples and cheeses - try a marmite dieppoise if you are that far east
    Breton specialities include far (a sort of baked custard), chouchenn (mead), cider and poiré, seafood, Kouign Amann (a cake) and crêpes.
    On the west coast, seafood again, but also haricot beans and salt-marsh lamb. Loire Atlantique is where muscadet comes from (if you like that wine it might be interesting to visit a vineyard).
  8. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    The markets in Rouen and Dieppe are woth a visit, Dieppe is only on Saturday in the main square. Rouen is worth a visit, as is Chartres to see the fabulous stained glass window in the Cathedral. Dieppe for eating seafood, L'Armorique, if it's still there is fabulous, but there are some good restaurants along the old quay..
    Bayeux, where you can see the actual Bayeux tapestry.
    I agree about the chateaux in the Loire valley, Chenonceau is incredible, but another interesting one is Blois.
  9. You people are amazing. I will be circling all of these places on the map when it arrives through the post. We are getting the dover - calais ferry and just having a drive down. I really do appreciate all this help and advice. Thank you. But do keep it coming. Scott
  10. All the information is so helpful! We are crossing to Cherbourg so will definitely take our time travelling to Dinan, where we are staying. The Miss J's are 7 and 9 and are looking forward to the adventure of travelling to a new country!
  11. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    Cherbourg-Dinan will take no time at all, really close together ! You really must go to St Malo, it's lovely, but be warned, we're not having great weather, pack some warm clothes too (fleece/waterproof jackets) especially for Brittany!
    Forecast for that area today is only 22°c, which is below the norm.
  12. I love this, 22° and you are suggesting warm clothes. That is shorts and t-shirt for me, and I would still be hot. Any more info or ideas? Not long now, getting excited. Think I need to brush up and my basic french.
    I am looking forward to plenty of Cassis and meat and cheese.
  13. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    22°c and rain is not shorts and T shirt weather, though, scott!
    Where I live, that's positively COLD for this time of year, we have temperatures like that before 10am.
    Have you driven in France before ? You'll need to understand road signs like
    Sortie = exit
    Toutes directions=through traffic (often in town centres)
    Autres directions=other directions (if you can't find your main direction on other signs)
    Péage=toll (for motorways, the signs are eg A1 Arras Paris (péage) to give you time to exit if you don't want to pay.
    The viamichelin site is the best route planner, will indicate exactly what roadsigns will look like on motorways AND gives you up to date info on toll prices. Avoid buying fuel on the motorway, you'll pay maybe 15 cents more per litre than in supermarket filling stations.
    Current prices where I live: 1.51 for petrol, 1.33 for diesel.
    Don't forget you need a red warning triangle and reflective jacket for compliance with obligations for motorists.
    France is clamping down on speeding so beware of speed cameras (not always warnings for them and LOTS of mobile ones!) and the drink-driving limit is 0.5mg here compared to 0.8 in Britain.
  14. Shorts, t-shirt, and a waterproof then! I suffer in the heat to be honest so I am hardly broken hearted at this news.

    I haven't driven there before no, and those things will be a great help, so thank you for that. I think we will try and avoid the tolls as much as is possible in order to see the small places along the journey.

    Great tip about the fuel prices too, and 1.33 is fine for my diesel, paying about £1.39 here!

    Warning sign has been sourced and the jacket is here. And of course, I am a teacher, and therefore a pillar of society, so no speeding from me.

    Is there anything you would recommend buying to take home that is either unavailable here, or much cheaper there?
  15. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    for that I would suggest you do a search on the MFL forum, where we Francophiles have discussed this sort of thing at length!
  16. Would this particular Francophile be so kind as to provide a link to such a thread?
  17. henriette

    henriette New commenter

  18. Thank you.
    From that I got (that I would certainly want)... Veal, Butter, Cheese, Coffee, Anchovies, Cornichons, Olive Oil, 'BIG' Salt.
    Is there anything else off the top of your head you think I should get?
  19. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    beer (if you have room and like blonde beer)
    steaks haches
    smoked herring (vacuum packed)
    hot chocolate
    bread mix
    ...... I could go on and on - have been known to fill an entire estate car with shopping to bring back when on a daytrip on my own!!
  20. Fortunately.... I drive an estate...

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