Wining, Dining and Sleeping in the Loire
Berry




Bourges Cathedral

Bourges
Bourges is a lovely old cathedral town conveniently situated just off the main north-south autoroute that connects Paris with Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier. It also makes an ideal base for exploring the vineyards of Sancerre, Pouilly-sur-Loire and Menetou-Salon to the east (it's about a 40 minute drive to Sancerre from here) and Reuilly and Quincy just to the west.



Hotel-Restaurant - de Bourbon / l'Abbaye Saint-Ambroix
Boulevard de la République

T: + 33 2 48 70 70 00
F: + 33 2 48 70 21 22
www.hoteldebourbon.fr 
www.abbayesaintambroix.fr 

contact@hoteldebourbon.fr 

contact@abbayesaintambroix.fr
This large hotel is operated by the Mercure group and is situated in an ancient abbey just on the ring road. It's a convenient stop-off point and from here it is an easy five minute walk into the town. Despite its origins, the rooms are very well appointed and up to date with air conditioning. 



The restaurant, is located within the old chapel which has been sympathetically restored. The food is here is of a high standard (although it sadly lost its Michelin star in 2010 - clearly the Michelin Men don't believe hotel chains have a right to such accolades), with a menu centred on dishes of the Berry with some modern twists. The wine list is extensive with plenty of examples from the appellations of the Berry and elsewhere along the Loire, although vintages tend to be fairly current (save for some old examples of Cotat - for which one should expect to pay a hefty premium for). Expensive, but recommended. 

Just try and avoid staying on Monday and Tuesday when the restaurant reinvents itself as the 'Carré Bourbon', with a basic menu and disappointingly, one cannot even access the full wine list. 
(Last stayed: 01/11 and dined: 03/10)  

Hotel - Le Christina
5 Rue de la Halle

T: + 33 2 48 70 56 50
F: + 33 2 48 70 58 13
www.le-christina.com
An inexpensive, five story high hotel with 71 rooms that overlooks the Halle de Blé. It's architecture is a bit of a legacy of the 1970s. Some rooms have been recently refurbished. It's clean enough and suitable for an overnight stay, but operates more as a business hotel than one suitable for tourism. (Last stayed: 05/06)

Hotel - D'Angleterre
5 Place Quatre-Piliers

T: + 33 2 48 24 68 51
F: + 33 2 48 65 21 41
www.bestwestern-angleterre-bourges.com
The D'Angleterre is the number two hotel in Bourges after the Bourbons. It has 31 rooms and is situated in a quiet spot in the centre of town. 

Café -Restaurant - Le Comptoir de Paris 
Jerôme Philippe
1 Rue Jean Girard
Place Gordaine

T: + 33 2 48 24 17 16

Situated in one of the historic squares of Bourges, Jerôme Philippe returned to his native Berry in 2009 to open this Parisian style bistro after several years working in the capital. The food is simple, but well executed (one of the best steak-frites I've eaten in France). The wine list is basically off a blackboard but there is lots of choice by the glass with all of the local appellations covered. The very friendly and hospitable Philippe also serves two or three beers on tap and has an eclectic taste in music. Inexpensive and very highly recommended. (Last dined 01/11)

Restaurant - Le Jardin Gourmand
Christian Chauveau
15 bis Avenue Ernest Reman
T: + 33 2 48 21 35 91

F: + 33 2 48 20 59 75
www.jardingourmand.fr 
Just opposite from Le Piet à Terre and also within another maison bourgeois, is Le Jardin Gourmand. The house was once owned by Georges Forrest, inventor of the the Forestine, a local specialty bon-bon. The restaurant is split between about four separate rooms which allows for large parties to be removed from the more discrete diners. Whilst the food is pedestrian and the service, controlled by Mme. Chauveau, is lacking, the wine list is outstanding in both quality and price; it's possible to drink Second Growth Claret from some of the best vintages of the 1980s for less than the current auction price. Bordeaux is extensively represented, as is Burgundy, although this section of the list suffers from a lack of growers names. Madame also happens to hail from a family of vignerons from the Jura; the wines of her brothers domaine, Overnoy-Crinquand in Pupillin, are excellent. Despite the average food, prices are modest for an establishment of this stature, and its a restaurant well patronised by the locals. Closed Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday for lunch, also mid December to mid January and most of July. Recommended - if only for the wine list. (Last dined: 06/10). 

Restaurant - Le Bourbonnoux
44 rue Bourbonnoux
T: + 33 2 48 24 14 76

F: + 33 2 48 24 77 67
www.bourbonnoux.com 
This restaurant is one of several situated on the cobbled street that ambles up towards the cathedral. It's typically Berrichone, serving traditional dishes such as Berry lentil and crottin salad. The decor is a little faded, but it remains a popular place with locals and business visitors alike. The food is capable if a little predictable. The wine list is decent with all the local appellations represented. There is also a good selection of wines from other French regions, including the occasional oddity, like Vin Jaune from the Jura. Service is led by a slightly dictatorial madame, although with the best intentions. Closed Sunday dinner, Friday and Saturday lunch, plus mid August to mid September. Decent and well priced, but if you are in the town for a limited time, there are better options. (Last dined: 06/10)

Restaurant - Le Savoyard
40 rue Bourbonnoux
T: + 33 2 48 57 27

Le Savoyard is next door but one to Le Bourbonnoux. As the name suggests, the focus here is more alpine cuisine, based on Fondues, Raclette and Tartiflette and portions are copious, so go hungry. Basic and inexpensive. Popular with locals, especially at the weekend. Best book in advance. Closed Sunday lunch and Monday. (Last dined: 02/10)  

Restaurant - Le d'Antan Sancerrois
Stéphane Rétief
50 rue Bourbonnoux
T: + 33 2 48 65 96 26
F: + 33 2 48 70 50 82
www.dantansancerrois.com
dantan.sancerrois@wanadoo.fr
The second Michelin star rated restaurant in Bourges. Whilst set in an ancient building, this internal design is very much 21st Century. The cooking here is modern-classic, but neither fancy or over-challenging. There is a good wine list, with the Loire particularly well represented. Service is friendly and relaxed. Closed Sunday and Monday and August. Recommended. (Last dined: 02/10)

Restaurant - Beauvoir
1 Avenue Marx-Dornay
T: + 33 2 48 65 42 44
F: + 33 2 48 24 80 84
www.restaurantbeauvoir.com
Beauvoir is found to the east of the town, but within walking distance of the centre. We dined there, on a cold, snowy, mid-week evening in January and were the only diners. The cuisine here is classic French and well executed. There is a very good wine list, which includes a useful selection of half bottles. Service was, as would be expected when you're the only table in the house, attentive. Closed Sunday nights and August. Recommended. (Last dined: 01/10)

Restaurant - Le Cosmopolitan
2 Place des 4-Pillars
T: + 33 2 48 66 42 20
This corner restaurant opened in 2009. It's to be found opposite the Hôtel d'Angleterre. I haven't yet dined here. Open for lunch and dinner between Tuesday to Saturday (and Monday too in the summer). 

Restaurant - Le Jacques Coeur
3 Place Jacques Coeur
T: + 33 2 48 26 53 01
restaurant.lejacquescoeur@hotmail.com
 
www.restaurantjacquescoeur.com 
Opened in 2008 by Stéphane and Claudine Philippon, this formal looking restaurant is located, unsurprisingly, opposite the Palais Jacques Coeur. I haven't yet dined here. Closed all day on Sunday and on Monday and Saturday lunch. 

Restaurant - La Scala
1 Place Planchat
T: + 33 2 48 24 08 85
boac@wanadoo.fr
 
This typical Italian restaurant is located in an ancient half-timbered house in the centre of Bourges. It's a busy place and popular with local family groups. The food is serviceable without frills or fuss and offers no great surprises. Inexpensive. Open seven days a week. (Last dined: 02/10)

Restaurant - La Pataterie
Route de la Charité
T: + 33 2 48 66 36 63
www.lapataterie.com

This group of franchised restaurants numbers thirty plus throughout France. It's basically one-hundred-and-one-ways to cook a potato. But I have to admit it works, and the quality of the main ingredient is surprisingly good. Portions are copious. The restaurant is situated (as are most of the others in the chain) on the edge of town in a retail park. The place, even in January, is packed with happy lunch time diners. Recommended as a winter warmer. Inexpensive. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. (Last dined: 01/10)

Retail opportunity - Maison des Forestines
3 Place Cujas
T: + 33 2 48 24 00 24
forestines@orange.fr

Opened in 1884 by Georges Forrest, creator of the Forestine, a semi-hard bon-bon that is now very much seen as a local speciality. The sweets come in a variety of different colours and flavours. Closed on Sunday and Monday morning. 

Hotel - Château de Lazenay
Rue de la Vernusse (next to the lac d'Auron)
T: + 33 2 48 20 04 04
F: + 33 2 48 67 99 39
www.chateaulazenay.fr
Outside of the town, about a 10 minute drive to the south, this relatively new hotel is situated in an old manor house overlooking the Lac d'Auron, a man made lake used, primarily, as a leisure facilities for would-be mariners. There are 20 apartment style rooms and offers free wi-fi access. Whilst in a very quiet and tranquil location, it does mean driving into town for dinner. Well priced. 

 

Sancerre

Hotel – Le Panoramic
Ramparts des Augustins
T: +33 2 48 54 22 44
F: +33 2 48 54 39 55
panor
amichotel@wanadoo.fr
www.panormicotel.com
Although something of a bed factory of a hotel, the Panoramic is situated within a five minute walk of the centre of Sancerre. Half of its 60 rooms offer spectacular vineyard views over Chavignol, but you need to request one of these when booking. The hotel was purchased a few years ago by négociant Guy Saget from across the river in Pouilly-sur-Loire when it was refirbished. There is also a useful outdoor swimming pool which also overlooks the vines. Despite its recent renovation, the rooms are basic and a little shabby. I should also state that it probably has the most extortionate rate for internet access of any hotel I've ever stayed in. At 5.00 Euros for an hour or 8.00 Euros for two hours, it makes the cost of 24 hour access greater than the cost of the room! I stay at the Panoramic for its convenience rather than its charm. (Last time stayed: 01/11)

Restaurant – Les Augustins
113 Ramparts des Augustins
T: +33 2 48 54 01 44
F: + 33 2 48 54 13 60
contact@restaurant-traiteur-lesaugustins.com
www.restaurant-traiteur-lesaugustins.com
Literally adjoining the Hotel Panoramic, but run as a separate business. The menu is here is focused on the cuisine of the Berry and has a good selection of wines from the immediate region and through the Loire , plus an eclectic selection from elsewhere. There is the option of dining on the roadside terrace in summer, although the restaurant itself offers great west facing views across the vines. (Last time dined: 01/10)  

Hotel – Le Clos Saint-Martin
10 Rue Saint-Martin

T: +33 2 48 54
21 11
F: +33 2 48 54
17 50
reception@leclos-saintmartin.com
www.leclos-saintmartin.com
This is the second hotel to be opened in the centre of Sancerre (in 2009) by the Pouilly négociant, Guy Saget; the other being the Panoramic, above. Its 41 rooms are completely up to date and, unlike its sister hotel, offers complimentary wi-fi access. For the moment, the rooms are well priced and this likely to be my hotel of choice when passing through the town, although unfortunately to date the hotel has remained closed in the off-season. (Last time stayed: 06/10)



Restaurant – Auberge la Pomme d’Or
Place de la Mairie
Sancerre
T: +33 2 48 54 13 30
F: +33 2 48 54 19 22
A tiny, yet well established restaurant on a side street at the rear of the town. With only about eight or so tables and the owners keeping irregular hours, it is essential to book in advance. The menu is small and both seasonal and regional with the wine list focusing on producers from the Berry. The food was spot on the last time I dined there (06/10)



Restaurant – La Tour
Nouvelle Place
Sancerre
T: +33 2 48 54 00 81
F: +33 2 48 54 01 54
info@la-tour-sancerre.fr

Situated in the main square in the town, La Tour is the most formal (and expensive) of all the dining options in and around Sancerre. The menu concentrates on local dishes and changes little between the seasons. Service can be a little stuffy, but the food is very good and, as one would expect, there is a fine selection of wines from Sancerre. The rest of the Loire list is a little predictable, but for those not intent on drinking within the region, there is a good selection of wines from other regions of France. (Last dined: 07/08)

Restaurant – Auberge Joseph Mellot
16 Nouvelle Place
Sancerre
T/F: +33 2 48 54 20 53
josephmellot@josephmellot.com

www.josephmellot.com
Also found in the main square, next to the plethora of touristic wine shops, is the simple bistro of Sancerre wine producer, Joseph Mellot. The food is here is based on regional platters with the growers wines being served alongside.

Restaurant – La Collina
10 Place Connetable
Sancerre
T: +33 2 48 54 11 16
This very simple pizzeria is situated right at the very top of the town in what looks like the owners house. You can enjoy a decent plate of pasta, and pizzas are cooked in a wood burning oven. Expect industrial-style Italian wines on the very modest list. The rather gruff English speaking Italian owner also does take-away, but doesn’t do credit cards, so ensure you go with cash. 
(Last dined: 01/08)

Restaurant – Auberge L’Ecurie
31 Nouvelle Place
Sancerre
T: +33 2 48 54 16 50
F: +33 2 48 54 01 54
This modest pizzeria, creperie and bar is situated beneath the Restaurant La Tour. It serves pizzas, salads and the usual Berrichone fare. Whilst it does offer a selection of different grower Sancerre by the the food is pretty poor. Inexpensive but certainly not recommended. (Last dined 01/11).  

Restaurant – Le Grill Sancerrois 
290 rue du Serre-Coeur
Sancerre
T: +33 2 48
54 18 77
www.legrillsancerrois.com 
Situated on one of the corners of the roundabout as one enters the town, it's hard to miss. Following a year or so of closure, this one local institution reopened its doors in 2009. It serves a pretty basic menu of pizza and tapas. Inexpensive but not recommended. 

Retail Opportunity – Brasserie Sancerroise
258 rue d’Amigny
Sancerre
T: +33 2 48 54 29 91
www.brasserie-sancerroise.com
A great micro-brewery situated on the edge of the town producing a range of interesting and excellent beers, many of which are available in the various bars and restaurants around Sancerre.

Chavignol  



Hotel/Restaurant – La Côte des Monts Damnés
Chavignol
T: +33 2 48 54 01 72
F: +33 2 48 54 14 24
contact@montsdamnes.com
 
www.montsdamnes.com
La Côte des Monts Damnés takes its name from the notorious hillside vineyard in Chavignol. It is owned and operated by Jean-Marc Bourgeois, son of Jean-Marie and brother of Arnaud, and whose wines are a point of reference within the Sancerre appellation. You will find the Bourgeois cellars just up the road. The boutique hotel, with its twelve individually themed rooms is a recent addition, as is the trendy new bistro offering simple regional dishes. The existing and more formal ‘restaurant gastronomique’ has been moved to the rear of the building. This is a good base for anyone wanting to explore the region for a couple of days and is happy to dine in situ. The food in the formal restaurant is as good as any in the region and the wine list can be commended for displaying a good representation of grower Sancerre alongside the Domaine Henri Bourgeois selection. Expect to find Jean-Marie propping up the bar with a collection of other locals when not at his holiday retreat on the Atlantic Coast. (Last dined/stayed: 01/10)

Restaurant – Au Fin Chavignol
Chavignol
T: + 33 2 48 54 20 63
Run by Raymonde Pascal, wife of local vigneron, Pascal. This modest eatery is located in a two wood panelled roomed house in the centre of the village. It’s a popular and busy place for lunch and it is best to phone ahead and reserve one of the ten tables. This food is unpretentious and doesn’t venture much further than serving simple salads and omelettes and the ubiquitous Crottin de Chavignol. Closed Monday and Tuesday and Madame doesn’t take credit cards. Recommended.
(Last time dined: 12/08)  



Retail OpportunityFromagerie Dubois-Boulay
Chavignol
T: +33 2 48 54 15 69
F: +33 2 48 54 38 93
www.dubois-boulay.fr
Any visit to Sancerre would be incomplete without a stop at this fourth generation cheese affineur in the centre of the village producing the local Crottin de Chavignol. 

Saint Satur

Hotel/Restaurant – Le Laurier
29 Rue du Commerce
T: +33 2 48 54 17 20
F: +33 2 48 54 04 54
Bossley18@orange.fr
You will find this modest Logis on the one-way system as you drive between Sancerre and the river. The hotel changed hands in 2007 and although the new owners have retained the essence of the previous menu, the food was not as satisfying on my last visit here. Expect good hearty Berrichone dishes and a modest wine list. I have never stayed in the hotel. (Last dined: 01/08)  

Bar/Restaurant – La Fontaine
97 Avenue de la Grande Fontaine
T
/F: +33 2 48 54 22 31

brasserie.restaurant.la.fontaine@orange.fr
Daniel and Roselyne Genod run this popular little bar and restaurant that specialises in grilled meat cooked on an open fire, fueled by vine cuttings, in the centre of dining room. It's a good place to grab a quick steak-frites during a busy day visiting growers. Inexpensive and recommended. Open every day except Wednesday evenings. (Last dined: 02/10)

Saint-Thibault

Hotel – Hotel de la Loire
2 Quai de la Loire
Saint-Thibault
T: +33 2 48 78 22 22
F: +33 2 48 78 22 29
Hotel_de_la_loire@hotmail.com
www.hotel-de-la-loire.com
You will find the Hotel de la Loire right next to the bridge that traverses the river. It’s a busy route and it can get noisy, so it is important that you try and get a room (call me xenophobic, but I recommend ‘English’ towards the rear of the building) which also have excellent views over the river. All the rooms were individually themed by Carla, the previous owner. It is a good base for exploring both sides of the river, and although there is no restaurant, there are a couple of dining options within walking distance. (Last stayed: 01/06)

Restaurant – Au Bord de Loire
2 Quai de la Loire
Saint-Thibault
T: +33 2 48 54 12 15
This was obviously the riverside terrace for the Hotel de la Loire at one stage, but is now run as a separate enterprise. This is a modest little cabin right on the river which is a good place for a simple lunch of salad and friture de la Loire .

Restaurant – L’Auberge de Saint-Thibault
37 rue J. Combes
Saint-Thibault
T: +33 2 46 78 04 10

You will find this modest eatery on a side street off the main road between Sancerre and the bridge over the Loire . The menu is based on regional and Burgundian classics. The wine list is decent but not inspiring.

Restaurant - Le Jardin de Saint-Thibault
Elga and Arnaud Danthu
7 rue des Ponts
Saint-Thibault
T: +33 2 48 54 12 28
You probably wouldn’t give this provençal looking building a second glance when driving past, but behind there is an attractive terrace for summer dining. The menu here is based on local dishes and changes on a regular basis. The wine list is better than average with some good local growers represented. (Last dined: 09/06)

Ménétréol-sous-Sancerre

Restaurant – Le Floroine
T: +33 2 48 54 02 74
www.le.floroine.com
There are a couple of bars and restaurants that run alongside the canal in the village. Le Floroine is a popular lunch time haunt of local businessmen and wine growers alike. It offers three courses; a buffet starter of crudité and paté, followed by the plat de jour and cheese or dessert, served with a bottle of gros rouge. Authentic and inexpensive. (Last dined: 01/08)  

Verdigny

Restaurant – Gîte – Auberge du Vigneron
Rue Saint-Vincent
T: + 33 2 48 79 38 68
F: + 33 2 48 79 29 82
Just a five minute drive from Sancerre, Verdigny is littered by some famous vinous names of the region and Jean-Pierre Raimbault, who run this simple auberge with his wife Maryline, originates from the local winemaking dynasty of the same name. The restaurant is situated in an old farmhouse in the centre of the village. The food is copious and homely, with a selection of local classic dishes, such as tête de veau (or viau in Berrichone). There is a small selection wines dominated by half a dozen local growers, including Daniel Chotard. There are also a few rooms in which to stay.
(Last dined: 12/08)


Saint-Andelain

Pouilly-sur-Loire

Hotel/Restaurant - Le Relais Fleuri Coq Hardi
42 Avenue de la Tuilerie
T: +33 3 86 39 12 99
F: +33 3 86 39 14 15
Le-relais-fleuri-sarl@wanadoo.f
r
www.lecoqhardi.f
r 
Given the wealth of dining opportunities across the river in Sancerre, there is a dearth of decent eateries in Pouilly. You’ll find this pleasant roadside auberge opposite the co-operative heading south out of the town. I’ve never stayed in any of its rooms with their 'creaking floorboards and giants' wardrobes', but have eaten relatively well in their relatively formal dining room. In the summer there is the opportunity to dine on the terrace. The food is mostly locally inspired, with plenty of fish on the menu, and there is also a decent wine list. Apparently, the chef-patron worked for 29 years at the London Ritz.

Cosne-sur-Loire

Restaurant - Le Chat
Place du Chat
42 Rue des Guérins
Villechaud

T: +33 3 86
28 49 03

I haven't yet eaten here, but it comes recommended from a trustworthy source. 


Reuilly

In and around Quincy and Reuilly
With the recent opening of the autoroute to Tours , nearby Vierzon has become the new crossroad of France. However, the region remains something of gastronomic wilderness. The options are to head north and into the Sologne, or within half an hour south of the two appellations you can be in Issoudun where at least there are a couple of choices to eat and sleep.



Quincy

Restaurant - Le Firmament
Route de Vierzon
T: + 33 2 48 51 30 35
F: + 33 2 48 51 35 11
sarl@restaurantlefirmament.com
 

Le Firmament is the only dining option in the village. You'll find it situated on the road to Brinay. As well as a decent lunchtime hostelry, Le Firmament doubles up as a function venue. The food is classic Berrichone coupled with some French staples, such as confit de canard. The wine list is made up mostly of local producers. Perfectly decent, even if the service can be a little slow and chaotic. (Last dined: 06/10)

Brinay

Bar-Restaurant - Auberge des As
Le Bourg
T: + 33 2 48 51 08 65
This typical bar doubles up as a workers retreat where it serves a no choice Menu du Jour each lunchtime. Basic and serviceable. (Last dined: 06/10)

Gîte - La Chagnat
Gérard et Catherine Bignonneau
T: + 33 2 48 48 00 18
This renowned grower in Quincy has two self catering cottages available for rent on their farm. Isolated at the back of the commune, the property is surrounded by cereal plains. 

Gîte - Le Tremblay
Jean Tatin et Chantal Wilk
T: + 33 2 48 75 20 09
Literally next to the Bigonneau homestead, is that of fellow vignerons, Jean Tatin and Chantal Wilk. The self catering cottage here occupies one corner of an ancient Berrichone farm. 

Gîte - Château de Brinay
Jacques et Stéphanie Beaudon
Route de Quincy
T: + 33 2 48 51 38 31
P: + 33 6 74 78 14 49
www.chateaudebrinay.fr  
This self catering cottage sleeps up to eight people and is situated in the old stables of the lovely château.  

Diou

Restaurant - L'Aubergeade
Jacky Patron
Route d'Issoudin
T: + 33 2 54 49 22 28
F: + 33 2 54 49 27 48
patronjacky.j@free.fr 
Diou is the southern-most commune of the Reuilly appellation. This little roadside auberge is well worth searching out. The menu is relatively limited, but makes good use of seasonal ingredients. The cuisine is certainly very competent and has a strong local influence. There is a very good wine list which incorporates a few local wines, but the strength lies with the top wines that patron Jacky has sourced from some of the Loire's top sources. This is a worthy restaurant. Moderately priced. Closed Sunday and Wednesday evenings. (Last dined 05/10)

Issoudun

Hotel-Restaurant – Les 3 Rois
3 rue Pierre Brossolette
T: +33 2 54 21 00 65
F: +33 2 54 21 50 61
Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart stayed here in 1189 en-route to the third crusade. Richard the Kelley certainly hasn’t, but I did once eat in the restaurant. The menu is based on hearty regional cuisine, but the wine list offers something of a challenge. Legend also has it there are 16 rooms. (Last dined: 01/04)

Hotel-Restaurant – La Cognette
Rue Minimes
T: +33 2 54 03 59 59
F: +33 2 54 03 13 03
lacognette@wanadoo.fr

This one star Michelin apparently has a great wine list. Sadly, when I was there the restaurant was closed for its annual post-Christmas vacance. However, I did get to stay in one of their basic rooms which are situated in a separate building close by. I suspect that unless you are dining here then staying here is pretty pointless.
(Last stayed: 01/04)

Châteauroux

Restaurant – Le P'tit Bouchon
64 Rue Grande
T: +33 2
54 61 50 40
F: +33 2 54 03 1
3 30
leptitbouchon@free.fr
 
www.leptitbouchon.fr
The town of Châteauroux is at the southern extreme of the Berry but serves as a useful stop off point for anyone heading north of south along the A20 auto route, about an hours drive from the vineyards of Reuilly and Quincy. This busy and proper little brasserie serves good, honest food sourced locally (the Andouillettes de Reuilly are particularly recommended). The list is small and all chalked up on a blackboard, but is well chosen and there is a good selection by the glass. The service is brisk and attentive, and the owner clearly knows his wine and is free to offer a few recommendations for the growers he buys from. Excellent and authentic, very good value and highly recommended. Closed Sunday and Monday, plus three weeks in August. (Last dined: 06/10).


In and around Châteaumeillant  

Situated between the infant Cher and Indre rivers, Châteaumeillant sits at the southern most extreme of the Berry. The town itself is undistinguished, although has the usual amenities. If one is passing through the region for anything more than a couple of days, then the suggestion would be to stay and eat close to La Châtre, the neighbouring town, some 15 kilometres to the west. That said, there is one exceptional place to consider in Châteaumeillant itself.



Restaurant-Chambres d’Hôtes – Le Paradis
Inke Wiersema & Cors van Koesveld
2 Clos du Pavillon
Route de La Châtre
Châteaumeillant
paradis@koesveldauparadis.com

www.koesveldauparadis.com
Opened in December 2004, this old manor house on the edge of the town operates as a gîte and chambres d’hôtes. Inke and Cors are Dutch and ran a restaurant in The Hague before seeing a ‘For Sale’ advertisement for the property and deciding to buy it and settle permanently in France . The food here is based on local and seasonal produce. It is refreshingly unfussy and simple, with the quality of the ingredients shining through. Given the restaurant is tiny (booking is essential), they carry a small but well selected range of Loire wines, including those from Domaine du Pavillon whose cellars are close by. Highly recommended, but just be aware that they do not accept credit cards. 
(Last dined: 01/09)


Hotel-Restaurant – Les Dryades
Resort Golf & Spa
Rue du Golf
Pouligny-Notre-Dame
T: + 33 2 54 06 60 60
F: + 33 2 54 30 10 24
www.les-dryades.fr
A huge purpose built golfing estate some 10 kilometres south of La Châtre and about a fifteen minute drive to the centre of the appellation’s vineyards. The building stands five stories high and can be seen for miles away. It’s something of an eyesore from the outside, an abomination of 1970s architecture, but the rooms and the restaurant offer splendid views over the Indre valley. The rooms are modern and clean, although the bathrooms are in dire need of an upgrade. If spas and golf combined with a bit of wine tourism is your thing, then this is a good base for a couple of days. The kitchens were being refurbished when I stayed, so no comment available on the in house restaurant. Breakfast is served on the top floor.
(Last stayed: 01/09)


Hotel-Restaurant – Auberge de la Petite Fadette
Place du Château Nohant
Nohant-Vic
T: + 33 2 54 31 01 48
F: + 33 2 54 31 10 19
This nine roomed auberge is situated in a pretty hamlet, directly opposite the family home of the author George Sand, and takes its name from the heroine of one of her novels. The restaurant is set in a huge barn of a room with a medieval fireplace at one end and ancient wooden beams throughout. This is obviously something of a place of pilgrimage for lovers of Sands’ work, and prices are reflected in the cost of the menu. The food is traditional and centred on veal, a speciality within the region. There is an impressive wine list with some great older bottles of Loire wines, including Chinon’s from Couly-Dutheil back to the 1970s. This would be the only real attraction to lure me back as the food apart from being expensive isn’t particularly inspiring.
(Last dined: 01/09)  


Church at Nohant

Caviste – Cave Raffault
Eric Raffault
6 Avenue Lion d’Argent
La Châtre
T: 33 2 54 48 01 13
Eric and Didier Raffault run this great little wine shop just on the edge of the town. Judging by the sign outside, they also supply the local residents with all their liquid gaz and diesel requirements. Apart from a top selection of wines from the Berry , including the likes of Cotat, you will also find a well selected range from wider afield. Be sure to look out for their own wine, a vin de table, made from old Gamay ( Beaujolais and teinturier) in nearby Magny.   

Chambre d'HôteAnne de Varennes
Abbaye de Varennes
Fougerolles
T: + 33 2 54 31 33 20
P: + 33 6 60 33 86 24
www.holidayrentals.co.uk 
The Abbaye of Varennes is located in the Centre of France, La France Profonde, along the route to St. Jacques de Compostelle from Vézelay. The abbaye lies in the heart of the Berry region, one of the hidden treasures of France, steeped in history, gastronomy and wine. Not far lies Nohant, the home of George Sand, and the château of Sarzay. Just 10 kms is the town of La Châtre where one can find the Museum of George Sand and a lively Saturday morning market.

 


 

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