to the Loire regions
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
Restaurant – Auberge
Château de Couzan
+ 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.
Restaurant – Le
Petit Bouchon Forézien
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.
Restaurant – Le Cuvage
+ 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.
Restaurant – Auberge la Césarde
T: + 33 4 77 97 44 01
+ 33 4 77 97 48 16
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
Restaurant – Buffet
de la Gare
Route de Boën
+ 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
Tournel - Route de Boën
Restaurant with rooms – Hostellerie du Prieuré
T/F: + 33 4 77 58 31 21
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.
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
T: + 33 4 77 58 18 78
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.
Chambres d’Hôtes-Gîte-Restaurant – Ferme-Auberge
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.
Restaurant - La
Marie-Claude and Jean-Pierre Tholoniat
61 Avenue Alsace-Lorraine
T: + 33 4 77 58 15 33
F: + 33 4 77 58 93 88
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
+ 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
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.
Hotel – Marytel
95 Route de Lyon
T: + 33 4 77 58 72 00
+ 33 4 77 58 42 81
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.
Route de Lyon
Restaurant with rooms – Yves and Michèle Thollot
T: + 33 4 77 96 10 40
F: + 33 4 77 58 31 92
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.
Chambres d’hôtes – Sous
le Pic-La Pérolière
20 Rue Jean-Moulin
T/F: + 33 4 77 76 97 10
+ 33 4 77 76 60 06
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
Restaurant with rooms – Les Iris
32 Avenue J.-Martouret
T: + 33 4 77 36 09 09
F: + 33 4 77 36 09 00
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.
Restaurant – Le
19 Mars 1962
T: + 33 4 77 55 87 15
F: + 33 4 77 55 80 77
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.
Hotel-Restaurant – La Charpinière
+ 33 4 77 52 75 00
F: + 33 4 77 54 18 79
Saint-Galmier is just across the river
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
Chambres d’hôtes – Maison
T: + 33 4 77 54 03 03
F: + 33 4 77 54 16 10
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.