Restaurants - * Don't pay too much attention to TripAdvisor*
For dinner, the best place to visit is Saumur. There seems to be universal approval from guest’s that L'Escargot (Michelin recommended) is their favourite, mainly for its informal ambience and attentive service as well as classic French food, The owners, Fanny and Romauld, both worked in England and speak some English. It has now been open for 7 years, and so it is very busy and therefore it is necessary to book in advance. A meal for two from the more expensive menu, with a bottle of wine, should be less than €55 for lunch & €80 for diner. It is closed all day Tuesday & Wednesday. Our recommendations would be their Escargots, of course, Ris de Veau (Sweetbreads) and Foie Gras, when available.
L'Alchimiste (Michelin recommended) is run by Lydie & Francois who both come from Saumur. They speak very little English and this can be a problem as their menus can be quite complex to understand. Ask us if you would like to borrow a French – English cuisine dictionary. The menu changes every 2 weeks and their seasonal food is fantastic and wonderfully presented. The best bit is that the set menu is €18.50 and the wine prices reasonable, so it can be less than €60 for two. If you are fairly liberal with what you eat and can get by in French, then this restaurant is a must. It is closed Sunday evening and Monday. It is very important to book, as it has very quickly established itself as a very popular restaurant with local people, all year round.
L'aromate is about the same price as L'Escargot and is next door but one and so is easy to find from La Charpenterie. A very smart modern interior with guest artists displaying on the walls. Like all 4 of best restaurants in Saumur, it is run by husband and wife; husband in charge of the kitchen and wife front of house. An €18 menu is available Tues – Thurs with 2 choices for each course and a more expensive one at €27, but this includes high-cost dishes like Foie Gras. There is no terrace and it is closed Sunday and Monday. Recommended in Michelin guide. Steamed fish is especially good.
For a very special occasion, the Michelin starred Le Gambetta (one Michelin star) is superb. The imagination put into each course is quite extraordinary, and might typically consist of 4 - 5 smaller dishes which are eaten in a certain order; Feng-shui for food. If you order aperitifs, or coffee, they also come with a selection of delicacies to eat. Expect to pay about €60+ each, including aperitifs, quality wine and coffee. It is closed Sunday and Wednesday evening and all day Monday; and can be too busy at weekends.
If you enjoy fish, Le Grand Bleu, in the centre of Saumur is quite good. Brochet and Sandre are common in the region and are Pike and Perch caught freshly from local rivers. Our recommendation is their Mouclade et Frites at about €11 – Mussels are best from late June onwards and served with a bottle of Rose makes a great value evening meal. It is open everyday during the summer season; being well located and popular, it is a good idea to reserve a table.
Auberge Saint-Pierre in the main square is mentioned in lots of guide books and is OK. Some of the restaurants near to the river and in Rue St Nicolas can be very touristy, particularly in summer. They change hands frequently in winter as they cannot be sustained outside the holiday season. A better alternative in Bistro de la Place, which serves good food at a fair price.
L'Oceanic in Cinon is a superb restaurant specialising in fish dishes. The modern interior decor is magnificent and service is very correct. It is worth dressing up for as jeans and tee shirt is just impolite to other guests. Their standard menu includes a cheese board with perhaps 20+ cheeses from all over France, Switzerland and even some Stilton. Michelin recommended.
Le Prieure at the Abbey at Fontevraud is another good restaurant and the setting in the former medieval cloisters is a unique experience and an enchanting place to dine, but the menu prices seem expensive for what is being offered and the service can sometimes be off-hand.
Also good are:- Diane de Meridor at Montsoreau (busy at weekend); La Licorne (expensive drinks) & La Croix Blanche (especially on a nice summer evening) at Fontevraud; Auberge Bienvenue at Doue la Fontaine; L'Escalier de Saint Pierre in the centre of Montreuil-Bellay is a very nice Creperie and many guests have enjoyed lunch at La Barbacane, opposite the chateau. L'Auberge des Isles, by the river, is a memorable location in summer.
Breze is a small village and could not support a restaurant year-round. However for lunch, Monday - Friday, we have a great place at Les Belles Caves, well worth the 20min walk, and where you get a 4-course lunch for just €11 which includes ½ a bottle of red wine and coffee. You serve yourself with a huge range of starters; have a set main course - meat or fish; a good selection of cheeses and a simple desert. Fantastic to watch all the local workers enjoying their food.
If you fancy a delicious pizza in Brézé then Bar des Sports will make one for you while you wait, or better still why not eat in and enjoy a beer as well.
Shops & Markets
Most basics are available in Breze - Mini market, baker, pharmacy and post office (mornings only) etc. Please try to use them for odds and ends as they are important to the future well being of the village.
The mini market is open Monday – Saturday 8.30 – 19.30 and Sunday 9.00 – 12.30
The Boulengerie is open every day except Sunday afternoon and all day Wednesday
The Carrefour at Distre is now open Sunday morning - a big plus for late arrivals but Larger supermarkets are available in Montreuil-Bellay – Super U, and in Saumur, Leclerc near the town centre and Intermarche (on the north side of the river at Eco Park). All are closed on Sunday, but remain open at lunchtimes.
For serious shopping, a visit to the cities of Angers, or Tours are best, Nantes is larger but not really worth the longer drive, as the valley is less scenic towards the estuary.
Markets are normally only open until 12.30 – ones shown red are recommended
(very small but has a bric-a-brac on the 2nd Sunday in month)
|Monday||Doue la Fontaine|
|Tuesday||Montreuil-Bellay, Bourgueil, Loudun and Thouars|
|Friday||Thouars (probably the best all-round)|