Wining, Dining and Sleeping in the Loire

Worth a detour
I’ve listed these hotels and restaurants on the basis that they are serious about their wine lists and the selection of Loire wines that they carry. In theory, they are en-route to the region if one is departing from the south of England.


Restaurant – Au Petit Riche
25 Rue Le Peletier
T: +3
3 1 47 70 68 68
F: +33
1 48 24 10 79
An obligatory destination for any Loireophiles who find themselves in the city. Situated off Boulevard Haussmann, this classic bistrot is a voyage back to Paris during the Belle Époque. It was founded in 1854 as the Café Riche and rebuilt in 1880 after being destroyed by fire and decorated using intricate mosaics and finely engraved glass. It became a favourite haunt for coachmen and the stagehands and actors of Opera close by. 

Its Loire influence is a direct result of Monsieur Bernard who took ownership of the property in 1880. He was a native of Vouvray and wanted to impress the regions personality by way of its menu and list of wines. Little has changed in the past 130-odd years and it remains a busy restaurant which attracts local patrons and tourists alike. 

On the menu you can expect to find the likes of Gillardeau oysters, lentils from the Berry, joue de boeuf braised in Bourgueil and rillons sourced directly from Hardouin in Vouvray. The wine list similarly has a strong Loire influence with all the great names acknowledged and current releases mingle with some of the great vintages of the past. Drink Huet Vouvray (although at a cost) back to the early 1920s... Otherwise wine prices are perfectly fare.  

This is good, honest traditional food served by a friendly and efficient brigade of waiters. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Modestly priced and highly recommended. (Last Dined 01/11).


Restaurant – Le Channel
3 boulevard Résistance
T: +33 3 21 34 42 30
F: +33 3 21 97 42 43
A very modest looking restaurant from the exterior, but as one crosses the threshold, the vinous pleasures to come are displayed under the glassed over cellar, below. This is a very serious wine list, entrusted to young Arnaud Crespo whose family have operated Le Channel for over thirty years. Arnaud’s passion is for Alsace , which is strongly represented in the list. Having worked a stage with Trimbach, he has is a particular following for the Riesling Clos Ste Hune, with vintages well back into the 1980s. The Loire list is equally rich and tempting, with Chinon from Couly-Durtheil back to the 1970s – and all at exceptionally reasonable prices. The menu is dominated, as one would expect, by the freshest fish and seafood imaginable. Le Channel is a great way to either start of finish a sortie into France. It’s even worth a detour in its own right. (Last time dined: 02/10)


Restaurant – Le Bouchon du Vaugueux
12 Rue Gra
T: +33
2 31 44 26 26
Partners Emmanuel Maintenant and Corinne Poussier took over this existing business (which already enjoyed a 'bib' rating in the Guide Michelin) in early 2011. It's a modest and busy bistrot serving excellent traditional and seasonal food from an ever-changing menu which is chalked up on large blackboards. The wine selection is similarly presented and rotates to include a broad choice of wines by the glass - all of which are sourced from proper, small producers. The Loire is well represented; we drank Reuilly Pinot Gris from Valérie Renaudat and Côte Roannaise from the family Sérol, all served with a smile. Very highly recommended for those looking to pass through Caen on their way to or from the Brittany Ferries service to Portsmouth. Booking recommended. (Last dined: 06/11)  


Hotel-Restaurant – Le Grand Monarque
22 place Épars
T: +33 2 37 18 15 15
F: +33 2 37 36 34 18
I wouldn’t normally condone staying in a Best Western hotel, but this is different: Le Grand Monarque has been listed in the Guide Michelin since the very first edition in 1900. It has a spectacular wine list and given its close proximity to the Loire , this is its strongest suit. There are great old curiosities here for next to nothing prices (I have recently drunk an excellent 1989 Coteaux d'Ancenis Malvoisie for € 19.00 and a 1981 Gigou Jasnières for the same price). There are two dining options; a ‘gastronomic’ restaurant serving modern-classic French cuisine, which won a Michelin star in 2010, or a more informal brasserie, Le Madrigal, serving excellent Gillardeau oysters and steak-frites. I’d recommend checking in for two nights and dine in each. Be sure to ask for a cellar tour after dinner. The rooms which have recently been updated with toile de Jouy themed fabric in the old French style are large and well appointed and not overly expensive. 
(Last time dined: 05/10)  

Hotel – Mercure
rue de Général Koënig
T: +33 2 37 33 11 11
F: +33 2 37 3
3 12 12

For those unable to get a room at the Grand Monarque, or want a less expensive option, Mercure have recently opened a basic, but clean and state of the art hotel just around the corner - and just a few seconds staggering distance away from one of the best wine lists in France. (Last time stayed: 05/10)


Restaurant – Au Jardin Gourmand
31 Rue Paillot de Montabert
T: + 33 3 25 73 36 13
is a lovely town full of half timbered houses and is a good base for touring the vineyards of the Aube, the prettier southern half of the Champagne region. It is feasible to be able to reach Troyes within about four hours of arriving in Calais and, as a result is equally useful as a stop off point when travelling to and from the south as it also happens to be situated on the cross roads of two major autoroutes. The local delicacy here is andouillettes, essentially a chitterling sausage full of tubes and wiggly bits best not discussed on a site like this. It’s a dish for the most dedicated of gastronome. A visit to Troyes would be incomplete without dining chez Jacques Lebois at Au Jardin Gourmand. You can experience the particularly ‘organic’ smelling AAAAA Andouillettes aux Chablis here, but thankfully the repertoire of Mme Lebois extends beyond this. Expect a small but well chosen carte here with a sprinkling of Loire wines (my excuse for including it here), but this is one of my very favourite places to dine.
(Last time dined: 12/09)

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