ANGELA BIRD'S

 

The
Vendée 

 

 

WHERE TO EAT IN THE VENDÉE,
Area 1

 

1. CHALLANS, ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE AND THE ISLANDS

La Barre-de-Monts, Beauvoir-sur-Mer, Bois-de-Céné, Bouin, Challans, Châteauneuf, Commequiers, Fromentine, La Garnache, Ile de Noirmoutier, Notre-Dame-de-Monts, St-Christophe-du-Ligneron, St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, St-Hilaire-de-Riez, St-Jean-de-Monts, Sallertaine, Soullans, Ile d'Yeu.

 Key
Blue text = restaurant with view over water (sea, lake or river)
Red text = hyperlinks to relevant web pages

 

 

 


Photo: Angela Bird

BOUIN
Bar à Huîtres : Fleurs des Flots, Port des Brochets (tel: 02 51 68 84 23)
Sébastien Lusseau – himself an oyster fisherman - and his sister have opened a trendy little oyster bar on the waterfront of one of Bourgneuf Bay’s oyster ports. You can see the boats come in and out as you tuck into the freshest mussels and oysters downstairs, or up on the first-floor sun-deck. It’s located on the north side of the channel, so a very sunny aspect.  Open daily from 10am.

 

 


Photo: Beauvoir tourist office  website

BEAUVOIR-SUR-MER
Auberge des Etiers l’Ampan, Route de Fromentine (D22), Beauvoir-sur-Mer (tel:  02 51 68 75 41)
KEITH SHEPHERD WRITES:
If you’re in the area and fancy a good meal, the family-run Auberge des Etiers is definitely worth a visit. They have a 19€ menu which seems to change on a fairly regular basis, and we’ve never had a bad meal in our three or four visits.  It’s on the main road between Fromentine and Beauvoir, just after the aerodrome. 

 

 



Photo: Chez Charles website

CHALLANS
Chez Charles, 8 Place du Champ de Foire (tel: 02 51 93 36 65)
Chic restaurant on the large square where the Tuesday-morning market is held, with sophisticated modern décor and beautifully- presented food. Specialities include local foie gras and Challans duck. Menus from 16€ to 46€ (2006). Closed Sun evening and Mon (July & August, closed Sun evening only), and also from late Dec to late Jan.

 

 


Photo: Le Gourmandin  website

CHALLANS

Le Gourmandin, 73 rue Bonne-Fontaine (tel: 02 51 35 39 09)

JOHN BROMHALL WRITES:

This restaurant near the hospital is run by a young couple, Maude and Stephane: he is the chef, she does front of house. Menus at around 18€ and 21€  (2007 prices) both include fish and meat dishes. There’s à la carte, and also a 'carte blanche' - the contents of which depend on what is available in the market. Food preparation and presentation are excellent. Here in Edinburgh we would pay 2-3 times the cost and think we had good value for money. It’s worth booking in advance as we did on a wet January night. Closed Sunday evening, Monday, and Wednesday evening.

Angela adds:  I ate here at lunchtime on a Tuesday in winter (market day), and was rather disappointed. I was given a table by the toilets (although the restaurant was not by any means full), and thought the lunchtime menu very basic. But maybe I should try the evening, as John recommends.

 

CHALLANS

Le Don Camillo, 53 r Gambetta (tel: 02 51 49 02 93)

JOHN BROMHALL WRITES:

As its name suggests, this restaurant near the station serves predominantly pizza & pasta - but with a French influence. It’s ideal for a cheap and cheerful meal; we have been a number of times and not been disappointed.  

 

 

 

Photo: Angela Bird

COMMEQUIERS
Hotel de la Gare (tel: 02 51 54 80 38)
RICHARD GARLICK WRITES:
Traditional Sunday lunches are a favourite family outing here, so best to book in advance. Attractively-decorated 19th-century building, opposite village's former railway station and just across the road from the Vélo-Rail. Leafy garden. play area just outside the dining room. If you order in advance, you can enjoy a varied plateau of fruits de mer at 35 euros per head - not cheap, but we considered excellent value. Service good but a little slow at busy times. Closed Mon.

 

 

 

 
Photo: Angela Bird

LA GARNACHE
Le Petit St-Thomas, 11 Boulevard des Platanes (tel: 02 51 49 05 99)
RICHARD GARLICK WRITES:
The friendly young owners, Magali and David Bourmaud, have taken the restaurant opposite the gates of La Garnache's ruined castle up-market with an ambitious menu. Some dishes are more successful than others but we gave them full marks for effort; desserts were particularly good. Very attractive interior. Booking advised for dinner, particularly weekends. Menus from 23.50€ (2009). 2008:  Has a mention in the Guide Michelin for good-value good food. Ample parking. Closed Sun evg, Mon all day, and Wed evening.

 

 


Photo: Angela Bird

GIVRAND
Ferme-Auberge du Rocher; opposite Dauphins Bleus campsite (tel: 02 51 54 59 04)
The interior of the old barn that houses this "farm-inn" has suffered rather an insensitive transformation, with its plastic-framed windows and corrugated roof giving it a slightly bleak aspect. However the outside has been painted with dazzling murals, left, and the good-value food - based on produce of the farm - is excellent. It does pay to be keen on duck, though, as Madame Audéon and her husband specialise in foie gras, magrets, rillettes and other delicacies, which you can also buy at the farm shop. 11€-32€ (2009). Open midday; also evening from 1 June to 30 Sept. Closed Sun evg & Mon.

 


Photo of L’Herbaudière: © Antoine Vairet

NOIRMOUTIER (L’Herbaudière)
La Cambuse, Port de Plaisance (Marina), L’Herbaudière (tel: 02 51 35 72 27)
One of a row of restaurants along the newly-renovated harbour front of this attractive port on the north coast of Noirmoutier that offers indoor and outdoor dining. The Cambuse has menus from 17€ (2006), and an emphasis on grills and seafood.




Photo Angela Bird

 

NOIRMOUTIER (L’Herbaudière)
La Marine  & La Table d’Elise, Port de Plaisance
(Marina), L’Herbaudière (tel: 02 51 39 23 09)
Young chef and Michelin-starholder Alexandre Couillon has won high praise from French gourmet guides for his interesting twists on the seafood that is landed outside his door, as well as on other ingredients (try his green-pea sorbet!). La Marine, with just 25 covers, is newly fitted out (2008) in fantastic black and white decor; menus from around 55€. He has also opened a slightly cheaper place next door called La Table d’Elise (photograph, left) where you can enjoy lunch from just 18.50€ (2010) in a friendly atmosphere and relaxed setting. Closed Sun evg, Tues evg & all day Wed.
Obtained a Michelin star for La Marine in 2007

 


Photo: Auberge du Relais website

LE PERRIER
Auberge Le Relais (tel: 02 51 68 32 28)
Though unpromisingly located on the main road from Challans to St-Jean-de-Monts, this restaurant offers a surprisingly peaceful setting looking out over open marshland – and most important, utterly delicious food! Look for Challans duck, eel, frongs’ legs, seafood. Menus from around 27 euro. (2008); booking essential  Closed Mon off-season.

 

Photo: Angela Bird

ST-GERVAIS
Auberge Le Marais 46 Rue du Villebon (tel: 02 51 49 39 77)
Prominently located on the Challans-to-Beauvoir road through the village, this is a friendly 2-star Logis hotel, with a locally-reputed restaurant.  Menus from 14.50€ (2009) feature oysters, mussels, eels, duck and other produce from the surrounding marshes.

 



Photo: Angela Bird

ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE
Le Safran, Bd de l’Egalité (tel: 02 51 55 60 15)
Looking unprepossessing from the road (near the tourist office), this popular restaurant has a terrace at the back overlooking the St Gilles yacht marina. Good-value lunches, with daily specials.  Occasional musical entertainment in the evenings.

 




Photo: Boisvinet website

ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE
Le Boisvinet, 2 Rue Louis-Cristau, overlooking Boisvinet beach (tel: 02 51 55 51 77)
A super makeover in 2007 has given this seafront restaurant, on the north side of the estuary and fishing port, a new lease of life. Cool modern decor in shades of “taupe” (beige), and bleached driftwood–and a cool modern menu to go with it with touches of exoticism and spices.  Don’t missa visit to the loos; you can leave feedback in a most unusual way...  Menus from 19.80€. Closed Sun evg, Tues evg & Wed. (July & Aug, open daily)

 


Photo: Angela Bird

ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE
Casino, 2 Quai Garcie-Ferrande (tel: 02 51 60 09 29)
It may seem odd to recommend a gaming joint, but the brasserie inside St-Gilles' modern casino is open to all - gamblers and non-gamblers alike - from coffee-time to the small hours of the morning. Located on the first floor, it has huge sliding windows overlooking the estuary of the river Vie, and serves good-value meals for around 20 euros (2008), with occasional "themed" evenings when you can eat couscous, curry etc. Open daily all year, and still animated even in winter.
One-armed bandits downstairs; roulette room open from 10pm. (You need to show a passport for both these and pay an admission charge for the roulette room.)

 

Photo: Angela Bird


ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE
Le Marlow, Grande Plage (tel: 02 51 55 57 94)
Excellent-value meals (menus at 9.90 euros, 2009) at this small restaurant along the seafront promenade. Friendly service, and sustaining portions of mussels and chips as well as other dishes.



 

No picture yet.

 

ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE
Les Océanides, Place du Marché aux Herbes (tel: 02 28 10 04 95)
Smart restaurant with fishy specialities and seaside-influenced décor. Not cheap, but excellent quality.




Photo: Angela Bird

ST-GILLES-CROIX-DE-VIE
La Riviera, 3 Quai Rivière (tel: 02 51 55 55 30)
The best pizzas ever, with thin crusts, and luscious fillings that can feature such delicacies as coquilles st jacques, or fresh anchovies. Or order a dish of mussels, and you will literally receive a boat-ful.



 


Photo: Angela Bird

ST-JEAN-DE-MONTS
La Chaise Longue, Plage des Demoiselles (tel:
02 28 11 64 41)
Sophisticated crêperie (pancake fillings include scallops and other choice shellfish; dessert ones are just as unexpected) in a smart portakabin-style construction right on the beach. It’s at the southern end of the St-Jean seafront - the address is officially St-Hilaire-de-Riez. Not cheap. Best to book. Open May-September, daily.

 


Photo: Richard Leader

 

ST-JEAN-DE-MONTS
Tante Paulette, 32 Rue Neuve (tel: 02 51 58 01 12)
RICHARD LEADER WRITES:
Despite the restaurant seeming deserted, we had a lovely meal. For just 15 euros we ate like fat kings for a while.  The seafood platter (see left) was way more than I expected, with oysters, langoustines, prawns, clams, winkles and more (not bad for a starter on a set menu!)

 



Photo: Angela Bird




ST-JEAN-DE-MONTS
Le Petit St Jean, 128 Route de Notre-Dame-de-Monts (tel: 02 51 59 78 50)
In spite of a slightly over-decorated setting, the food served by Jacques Rondeau at this pleasant restaurant on the main road to the north of St-Jean is delicious. Booking essential, as the place is popular with knowledgeable - and smartly-dressed - locals. Menus 20€-33€. Closed Mon

 


Photo: Angela Bird

 

ST-JEAN-DE-MONTS
Le Robinson, 28 Boulevard Leclerc (tel: 02 51 59 20 20)
This 2-star Logis hotel does not look much at first glance, but the locals know its reputation for fine food (it boasts three of the coveted Logis “casseroles”), and they cram the restaurant accordingly. Menus from 16€ (midweek lunch). Booking advisable.

 



Photo: Chris Deards

SION-SUR-L'OCEAN
Café de la Plage, 1 Rue de l'Océan (tel: 02 51 54 51 76)
CHRIS DEARDS WRITES:
This pretty little Victorian-style building stands right on the seafront, giving excellent views south towards the cliffs of Sion and north along the glorious sweep of sand that makes up St-Hilaire-de-Riez beach. It's fairly basic - just a wooden-floored café - and the service was a little slow, but the atmosphere was good and the staff very friendly. We had oysters to start, followed by superb moules (9.20 euros in 2006), all washed down with reasonable wines that don't break the bank.

 


Photo: Angela Bird

 

ILE D’YEU
La Crêperie Bleue, Port Joinville
Waterfront restaurant (harbour view only for those on the outdoor front terrace !), with good salads and pancakes of various sorts. Near the cycle-hire end of the front.

 

   © Angela Bird...and friends

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