Guide to the Loire regions

Côtes du Forez


Eating, drinking and sleeping


The Forez plain towards Montverdun

Mieux vaut mourir d’amour                     -‘It is better to die of love
Que de crever de soif.                              Than die of thirst’.

- Proverbe Forézien

Sail-sous-Couzan

Restaurant – Auberge La Sarrazine
Château de Couzan
T: + 33 4 77 24 53 59
Tucked away behind the medieval fortress that sits a few kilometres above the village, this tiny auberge survives on the business it receives from visitors to the ruined fortification.

Boën-sur-Lignon

Restaurant – Le Petit Bouchon Forézien
21 Domaine Giraud
T: + 33 4 77 24 17 30
Unfortunately, Boën is not blessed with any hotels or notable eateries. This modest bar serves simple seasonal food, such as assiettes de charcuterie, omelets and cheese.

Leigneux

Restaurant – Le Cuvage
La-Goutte-des-Bois
T: + 33 4 77 24 15 08
Just a few minutes drive out of Boën, Le Cuvage offers French bistro classics. There is a terrace for summer dining.  

Marcilly-le-Châtel

Restaurant – Auberge la Césarde
Le Château
T: + 33 4 77 97 44 01
F: + 33 4 77 97 48 16
La-cesarde@orange.fr
This 16th Century farm kitchen has been run by the same family since 1966 and sits below the imposing ruined castle, which dominates Marcilly from atop its volcanic pic. Expect copious servings of rustic, but traditional Forézien cuisine. Open everyday (except Tuesday) in July and August, otherwise just Friday to Sunday evenings. Closed January.

Champdieu

Restaurant – Buffet de la Gare
La Gare
Route de Boën
T: + 33 4 77 97 19 78
As the name suggests, this busy little bistrot is found in the old station building, just off the main road through Champdieu. Two pretty young girls run the front of house, whilst there is someone seriously competent running the kitchen. Expect good, honest, impeccably fresh food served up with a smile. Closed Saturday lunchtime and Wednesday. Phone before pitching up in the evenings as my experience is that they tend to close at will. Inexpensive and comes highly recommended.

Restaurant with rooms – Hostellerie du Prieuré
Tournel - Route de Boën
T/F: + 33 4 77 58 31 21
restaurantleprieure@wanadoo.fr
Situated on the main road between Montbrison and Champdieu, this shabby looking logis appeared busy for Sunday lunch but then remained closed for the duration of my three days in the Forez. Don’t pitch up without checking that they are open, although my recommendation would be probably not to bothering to pitch up at all.

Écotay-l’Olme


This hamlet is one of the prettiest places in the whole of the Forez, situated in a wooded glade, at the confluence of two streams, the Chavaran and Cotayet. The houses are all made of local black volcanic rock and run up a series of lanes to the medieval (11th Century) dungeon and Romanesque church. Watch out for red squirrels on the road into the valley.

Restaurant – La Table du Vieil Ecotay
Le Bourg
T: + 33 4 77 58 18 78
latableduvieilecotay@hotmail.fr
www.latableduvieilecotay.fr
Freddy Lafond and Fabrice Gaillard opened this stylish looking auberge in September 2006. It’s about a ten minute drive out of Montbrison to this pretty hamlet. Sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity to dine here on my brief visit, but suspect it is well worth a detour, even if they appear to serve no local wines. Open for lunch and dinner, but best to book in advance. Closed Mondays and all of January.

Saint-Georges-en-Couzan

Chambres d’Hôtes-Gîte-Restaurant – Ferme-Auberge du Mazet
Le Mazet
T: + 33 4 77 24 80 95
Located between the villages of Saint-Georges and Saint-Just-en-Bas, Valerie and Camille Decombe run this farm-cum-auberge, serving copious helpings of dishes prepared from their own free range pigs and chickens. You can elect to stay the night on a bed and breakfast basis, or stay longer as a self-catering guest. Closed December, January and Sunday evenings.

Montbrison

Restaurant - La Roseraie
Marie-Claude and Jean-Pierre Tholoniat
61 Avenue Alsace-Lorraine
T: + 33 4 77 58 15 33
F: + 33 4 77 58 93 88
j-p.tholoniat@wanadoo.fr
info@restaurantlaroseraie.com
www.restaurantlaroseraie.com
It’s a good 15 minute walk from the centre of the town to the railway station where this restaurant is situated. The Guide Michelin bills it as serving ‘Classic French fare with a modern twist’, but for me the cooking here has been left in the 1970s; tired and outdated cuisine, served in a restaurant where sunglasses are recommended to combat the glare of the strip lighting. Dessert and cheese are both served from a chariot, the former featuring all the old favourites. The cheeses are a disappointment whilst the wine list features Domaine du Poyet and wines from the co-operative, with an otherwise pedestrian selection of negociant Burgundy, Bordeaux and Rhône. Despite my assassination of the place, the restaurant is busy with family groups and single men, presumably dining away from home on business expenses. Closed Sunday and Tuesday dinner and Wednesday. The reality is that it is one of the few dining options available in Montbrison.

Hotel – L’Escale
27 Rue de la République
T: + 33 4 77 58 17 77
F: + 33 4 77 96 12 14
This shabby looking two star hotel is in the town, but at the confluence of two busy roads. It appears in several guide books but is certainly not recommended.

Hotel-Restaurant – Le Gil de France
18 bis, Boulevard Lachèze
Tel : + 33 4 77 58 06 16
Fax: + 33 4 77 58 73 78
mail@legildefrance.com
Just on the wrong side of the Montbrison inner ring road, this basic looking 31 bed roomed hotel is situated on the edge of a quiet park and just a short walk into the town centre. Modern and functional, although there is little else to commend it.

Savigneux

Hotel – Marytel
95 Route de Lyon
T: + 33 4 77 58 72 00
F: + 33 4 77 58 42 81
Hm4203@inter-hotel.com
www.hotel-marytel.com
The Marytel is a bed-factory like roadside hotel with 47 rooms and free internet access on an industrial/retail development on the edge of Montbrison. The accommodation is pretty basic and best suited to the business traveler or as an overnight stopover rather than a holiday retreat. Inexpensive.

Restaurant with rooms – Yves and Michèle Thollot
93 Route de Lyon
T: + 33 4 77 96 10 40
F: + 33 4 77 58 31 92
mail@yves-thollot.com
www.yves-thollot.com
Situated next door to the Hotel Marytel (above) on the edge of Montbrison, this barn of a place has a large, over lighted dining room with décor that comes straight out of the early 1980s, dating it to the same era as the predictable choice of piped popular music. Pastel colours pervade the curtains, walls and even the crockery. The food is traditional and hearty. My autumnal visit ensured that morels in a cream sauce were served with everything. The cheese and desserts are served via a healthily laden chariot, the latter consisting of all the French classics; crème brulée, bavarois, baba au rhum… Given the reputation for the regions cheeses, the selection here is disappointing. The small wine list features one local grower, Gilles Bonnefoy, although one might be inclined to deviate from the Forez and select one of the mature, but well priced Clarets instead. There is a shaded terrace for summer dining. Closed Sunday dinner, Monday and Tuesday dinner. Outside there are four separate rooms with terraces.

Saint-Romain-Le-Puy

Chambres d’hôtes – Sous le Pic-La Pérolière
Dominique Perol
20 Rue Jean-Moulin
T/F: + 33 4 77 76 97 10
T: + 33 4 77 76 60 06
laperoliere@wanadoo.fr
www.laperoliere.com
Four rustic rooms in a restored late 19th Century Forézien farmhouse, situated below the 11th Century priory. The rooms are furnished with antique and wrought iron furniture. Well priced, with a double room (in 2009) costing between € 46 and € 60 a night. Breakfast is served in the conservatory. Closed January/February.

Andrézieux-Bouthéon

Restaurant with rooms – Les Iris
Lionel Githenay
32 Avenue J.-Martouret
T: + 33 4 77 36 09 09
F: + 33 4 77 36 09 00
Les-iris42@orange.fr
www.les-iris.com
This one star Michelin serves ‘creative’ cuisine. Indulgence is allowed, since there are small and somewhat basic rooms off the garden. Closed Sunday dinner, Monday and Tuesday.

Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert

Restaurant – Le Neuvième Art
Place 19 Mars 1962
T: + 33 4 77 55 87 15
F: + 33 4 77 55 80 77
Le.neuvieme.art@wanadoo.fr
www.leneuviemeart.com
Located in the former railway station, this is an unlikely spot to find a two star Michelin rated establishment, but Christophe Roure offers contemporary French cooking cuisine in a ‘designer’ setting. Limited covers and closed on Sunday and Monday.

Saint-Galmier

Hotel-Restaurant – La Charpinière
T: + 33 4 77 52 75 00
F: + 33 4 77 54 18 79
Charpiniere.hot.rest@wanadoo.fr
www.lacharpiniere.com
Saint-Galmier is just across the river Loire and is within the limits of the Vin de Pays d’Urfé appellation. It is more famous, however, as being the source for Badoit mineral water. La Charpenière offers 49 bedrooms within an elegant house situated in its own park. Its pastel coloured rooms are typically French in taste, but the location ensures a calm and quiet atmosphere. At 70 – 150 Euros a night, this appears expensive for a three star establishment. The dining room offers a basic (24 Euro) menu of traditional if fussily presented French cuisine.

Chambres d’hôtes – Maison Dieu
Martine Peycelon
3 rue Dupuy
T: + 33 4 77 54 03 03
F: + 33 4 77 54 16 10
Martine.peycelon@wanadoo.fr
bienvenue@la-maison-dieu.com
www.peycelon.fr
The origins of the house date back to the 16th Century and can be found in the centre of this medieval town, which still retains many of its cobbled streets. Maison Dieu was once the home of the daughter of the founder of the Badoit mineral water empire. It has three well appointed rooms and one suite, all of which are filled with antique furniture. Expect to pay around € 80.00 a room, including breakfast. Closed December.


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