Photo: Colin Ellis
Auberge du Donjon, 28 Rue de la Poste (tel: 02 51 51 20 07)
ELLIS AND FAMILY WRITE:
Aperitifs outside in summer, and a roaring log fire indoors in winter make a
welcoming atmosphere at all times of year in this elegantly restored stone
building. Try the salade du donjon, with its mixture of meats and
leaves, or caviare d'aubergines, followed by delicious pork fillet,
and rounded off with a plateful of tiny portions of every dessert in the
house. Around 18€ (2003). Closed Wed, and also Tues from mid-Sept to mid-June.
Moulin Migné website
du Moulin Migné (tel: 02 51 69 68 76)
Great food at this pretty
farm-restaurant, with meat and veg home-produced by Roland, and cooked and
served with energy and enthusiasm by Isabelle. You must reserve at least 24
hours in advance. They will do vegetarian dishes if requested a day ahead.
The auberge is signposted down the country lanes, to the south of the
D949bis. Menus from 19€ (2008).
Photo: Angela Bird
La Fontarabie, 57 Rue de la République (tel: 02 51
69 17 24)
ERNA DE CLERCK WRITES:
The Glycine (wisteria) restaurant of this two-star Logis hotel - a former
coaching inn, but now thoroughly modernised - on Fontenay's lower main street
serves good salads, lamb and local dishes. Avoid the chips, though! My family
are connoisseurs, and we found these something of a let-down...
PS: from Angela:
I noticed that this restaurant does offer a vegetarian option on its
menus – a rare thing in the Vendée.
Crêperie du Château de la Citardière, Les Ouillères (tel: 02 51 00 27 04)
Not as sophisticated
as you would think from its address. The crêperie is housed throughout the
summer in the courtyard of a sturdy, moated medieval stronghold, illustrated
left, and you can eat pancakes and other snacks, indoors or out, from noon
till 10pm. Closed Wed.
André Perrier, inside market hall
Irresistible cooking smells lure hungry shoppers to a small bar area running
alongside the passageways inside Niort's beautiful glass market hall. The
helpings of braised steak etc are huge, so don't over-order!
Crêperie le Pommier, 9 Rue des Gélinières (tel: 02 51 69
In a pretty house
alongside one of the area's vinyards 4km north of Fontenay-le-Comte, Philippe
and Michelle Coirier serve generously filled galettes and sweet
pancakes, plus salads, puds and other dishes washed down with cider or
family-produced rosé. Visit the website and you can print out a
voucher for a free aperitif on your first visit! Two rooms and outdoor
terrace, children's playground, and a warming fire in winter. Best to book at
weekends. Michelle also does painted furniture and objects. Closed Mon.
Auberge de la Bruyère, 18 Rue du Docteur-Barbinneau (tel: 02 51 91 93 46)
Fantastic view from the open-air terrace looking out over the hills and
valleys of the Bocage, where you can enjoy a splendid panorama while eating a
good-value midweek lunch at this Logis hotel-restaurant. Menus 15€-27€
(2008). 2-sdtar hotel rooms from 46€ (2008). Closed Fri evening, Sat all day, & Sun evening (June to
September, closed Sat lunch and Sun evg).
Photograph : Angela Bird
Le Pantagruelion, 9 Rue de l'Octroi (tel: 02 51 00 59 19).
Smart restaurant 10km
east of Fontenay, where Laurence and Cyril Bretheau present sophisticated
dishes such as foie gras with apricot. Closed Sat lunch,
Sun evening & all Wed.
Ferme-auberge de Mélusine, Place de la Maison Neuve (tel: 02 51
51 07 61)
Extremely good -
though not inexpensive - food, from Pascal Raguin, in this farm inn 6km
north-east of Fontenay-le-Comte. In a less rustic setting than you might
imagine, the restaurant has an imposing entrance on a hard-to-find square in
the middle of St-Michel-le-Cloucq (find the Mairie first, then look for a
signpost). The name is an allusion to the mythological fairy said to have
built castles at Vouvant and a host of other places. Lunch menu 19€ (2005). Open from Easter to end October; closed Wed, and also 1 week in
Photograph : Auberge
Auberge du Mont Mercure, Place du Sommet (tel: 02 51 57 20 26)
Reasonable food in this restaurant hidden away behind the church in a village
that is the highest point in the Vendée. Not cheap (menus start from 23€) -
but weekday lunches at 14€ offer a chance for some bargains (2008).
Le Saturnin, 5 Place de Lespinay (tel: 02 51 40 42 77)
STEPHANIE NESTOR WRITES:
In the village
bar/restaurant, new owners - Daniel and Frédérique - are wonderful hosts.
They provide good-quality food and varied menus - the weekday lunchtime ouvrier menu is specially good value
at 11 euros (2010) for three courses. Evening meals are available at
weekends in the upstairs restaurant (also open during the week, by prior
reservation). Nothing is too much effort: there is a children's menu;
they will prepare dishes to take away; and - given 24 hours' notice - can
provide an imaginative vegetarian menu. Open 7 days a week from 0730 (closed Wednesday afternoon).
Photograph : Angela
La Morlière, Lac de Rochereau (tel: 02 51 40 41 98)
DE CLERCK WRITES:
M et Mme Lucas welcome visitors to their friendly, waterside restaurant
overlooking the Lac de Rochereau, a short way north-east of Sigournais -
itself some 6km north-east of Chantonnay. (Take the Monsireigne road, and
keep going a km or two until you see a sign to the restaurant in the heart of
the countryside.) Popular with families for its informal style, good-value
set menus and large playground. Closed Mon (and Wed from Sept to June)
2007: Louise Jordan adds the recommendation
had the most stunning meal; service couldn't have been more friendly or
helpful - made all the nicer by their extremely good-natured black