After touring Mont St. Michel in the morning, we drove to St. Malo, found a place to park, and quickly searched out a place for lunch. There were three restaurants within the walled city that are listed in Michelin and open Tuesdays, so we checked them out and settled on Autour de Beurre. This is an adjunct of the Bordier store next door, where they sell their famous butter and cheeses, along with other gourmet items. The restaurant is a beautiful space with stone walls and soaring ceilings.
I don’t normally photograph food, but I couldn’t help it when presented with this assortment of 8 different butters, flavored with various herbs and spices. Every one of them was delicious, and we finished them off with the excellent bread.
We both had the lunch menu, two courses at 17 and three at 20, marinated salmon served on cole slaw, hanger steak with carrots, poached pears and mushrooms. We shared one dessert, baba au rhum with fruits and whipped cream. It is an incredible deal, and we had a nice bottle of Cotes de Bordeaux for 21. With coffees, the total was 62 euros.
We strolled a bit more after lunch, and checked out the cathedral.
Next, we drove over to Dinard, which is more of a beach resort. It’s not as interesting as St. Malo, but I took a couple of photos looking up at the houses on the cliffs from the bayfront.
From Dinard, we continued on to Dinan, where we would be staying for the next couple of days. Our hotel is actually in Taden, but just a few hundred meters outside the town of Dinan. Our room at the Campanile was better than the one where we stayed in Caen, larger and with more storage space, a bathroom with a tub, hair dryer, and heater, and a phone. The non-refundable rate of about 49 euros a day is a bargain. The beds are very comfortable, and the location is very quiet.
Dinan is arguably the most charming town in Brittany. The historic center is very well preserved.
For dinner we chose Auberge du Pelican, a modern restaurant serving creative dishes. The room was nicely decorated but suffered from the French curse of blindingly bright lighting.
Auberge du Pelican
Assiette de Fruits de Mer, foie gras ravioli in mushroom cream, choucroute de mer, chicken breast on tagliatelle, fromage blanc with raspberry sauce, strawberry Bavarois. The chicken was poor, and the tagliatelle served with it spent too much time under a heat lamp, but everything else was delicious.
We love Bandol, and this one seemed like a bargain at 30 euros, but it was oddly unexceptional. The total bill was 87 euros.
Wednesday, September 27
The weather was more promising to the South, with rain predicted all day in Dinan, so we headed down to Vannes, with fog lifting and sun poking through on the way, as we passed through countryside and a couple of picturesque villages. Vannes has an attractive historic center, and today was market day, so it was quite lively and we enjoyed looking at all the food in the two enclosed markets. We also wandered up onto the battlements and into the Cathedral of St. Vincent, which, being built on a slope, has three distinct floor levels, with the high altar at the lowest level.
Another reason we chose to go there is the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Roscanvec, which has a three-course lunch menu for 30 euros.
Soft-boiled egg topped with a wafer, Foie gras mousse with sangria glaze, poached shrimp with fennel cream, barbecue sauce, on a bed of tabouleh, stuffed saddle of rabbit on a compote of peppers, onions, and black olives, with sauteed girolle mushrooms. Variation on peach melba, chocolate and mint evoking an “After Eight” mint. It was a great deal for a starred restaurant.
With a bottle of Cahors for 25 and coffees, the bill was 95 euros.
After lunch we attempted to find the scenic coastal road from Vannes to Auray, but it proved impossible, so we drove directly back to Dinan. Most restaurants here are closed on Wednesday, and we were growing tired of all the gourmet food anyway, so we decided to find a simpler traditional place. Michelin was no help in this regard, so I resorted to Tripadvisor, which I treat with some skepticism, but have sometimes found useful. Creperie Ahna got pretty much all rave reviews, so I made a reservation. It turned out to be an excellent choice, with a lively and convivial atmosphere.
We both ordered leg of lamb and a mixed salad. The lamb was served with a gratin of leeks, potatoes, and three sauces. The lamb is brought to the table as three raw slices. and a hot stone is provided to grill the lamb to your taste. It was delicious, and the sauces made it outstanding. For dessert, we had a crepe, La Stephanie, which is bananas with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. With a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, the total was only 64 euros.
Thursday, September 28
We took off in the morning on a drive along the Northern coast, eventually reaching the charming port of Paimpol. We followed a meandering route through some lush countryside, part of which looked like the Cotswolds, both the landscape and the stone houses and villages. We strolled around the harbor and old quarter in Paimpol before going off to lunch.
The restaurant Le 360 in Pointe de L’Arcouest, which I found in Michelin, offers a nice menu at 30 euros, with several choices for each course.
While we sat, two ferries pulled in, disgorging and receiving passengers for the Isle de Brehat.
Stanley had a duck breast tartare, while I had a platter of three preparations of salmon, smoked, slightly cooked, and tartare with orange and grapefruit. For main courses, we had lamb shank and monkfish, and for dessert opera cake and apple turnover. The first two courses were very good and interesting, but the desserts fell short a bit, tasting like something from a commercial bakery. Nonetheless, a nice lunch with a beautiful view.
With a bottle of Muscadet at 18, and coffees, the bill was 82 euros.
On the way back to Dinan, we stopped in Dol de Bretagne, which is supposed to be one of the most charming towns in Brittany, but was not all that interesting. Dol was rather dull.
Tonight’s dinner was Stanley’s birthday celebration, at the Michelin one-star Maison Crouzil in Plancoet, about a fifteen minute drive from Taden. Our meal was by far the most spectacular of this trip, and though pricey at 68 euros for three courses, it was worth every penny.
Since it was a special occasion, we had aperitifs, Stanley a glass of Champagne and I a kir. Canapes were served, then an amuse-bouche. We originally thought we would order the menu terroir at 38 euros, not realizing it is only served at lunch, so we went with the 68 euro menu, which was impressive. For appetizers, he had grilled scallops with lentils, and I had lobster stew, which was spectacular. Next, I had filet of St. Pierre with girolle mushrooms, and he had sweetbreads., both beautifully prepared. For dessert, I had a religieuse, which is a large cream puff resembling a nun. It was filled with salted caramel cream, and served with caramel ice cream and dots of chocolate mousse. He had a souffle of “exotic fruits”. Mignardises were served after.
The service was impeccable, and the atmosphere elegant. With an excellent bottle of Montagne St. Emilion at 32 euros, the total came to 190.