Our choice of great restaurants and accommodation from quirky stays to luxury lodges, not to mention the four Michelin-starred restaurants in Nantes. Note: this article is part of the megafeature “West Coast Road Trip“.
France’s west coast stretches from the tip of Brittany and the port city of Brest all the way down to Biarritz, the elegant seaside town. Encompassing three regions — Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Nouvelle-Aquitaine — and some of France’s most beautiful cities, there’s plenty to discover, including in terms of food. Restaurants, bistros and cafes make the most of the fresh seafood on their doorstep, which is seasoned with sea salt (known as France’s white gold) made on the coast.
You’ll be pleased to learn that there are four Michelin-starred restaurants in Nantes alone, one of which is very central: Roza, run by chef Jean-François Pantaleon, offers three-course lunches à la carte for around €70, which is a fair price for such high-end cuisine.
In Bordeaux, you can book a table at Le Pressoir d’Argent by Gordon Ramsay, whose chefs conjure up dishes matched by 550 different wines. Lobster is currently €140 and chocolate dessert €27, and if you over-indulge, the restaurant is happily within Le Grand Hôtel.
In Saintes, Michelin recommends Saveurs de L’Abbaye. Treat yourself to a three-course lunch from €20, or three-course dinner for €31. saveurs-abbaye.com/ Alternatively, near the cathedral, the top-rated L’Insolite offers exquisite mains for €12 to €15. l-insolite-restaurant-saintes.eatbu.com/
Finally, Hossegor’s top gastronomic spot is Jean des Sables, which offers artistic cuisine, discreet lighting and a three-course à la carte menu for a very reasonable €55, with sea views and outdoor terrace, so you can still enjoy the Bohemian, beachside atmosphere that guarantees the true Hossegor experience. jeandessables.com/en
Drink it in
Naturally, to the north of the itinerary you should be enjoying crêpes, accompanied by Breton cider, typically supped from a small ceramic bowl, but you could choose a glass of the region’s Muscadet wine. As you travel further south, you can enjoy more wine thanks to the Loire vineyards (Sauvignon, Saumur, Bourgueil) and then the rich and fabled wines of Bordeaux, not forgetting that this is also the land of Cognac, while Armagnac is produced in Gascony.
For self-catering, try Le Pigeonnier de la Plume, a two-storey house across the river from Nantes centre and only 2.4km from the château. With free parking and its own little courtyard, it’s a charming hideaway for two, starting at just €64 per night.
In Saintes, why not book a room at the Chambres de l’Abbaye aux Dames, a former convent that now welcomes you to cosy rooms with fascinating architecture, from vaulted ceilings to domed walkways? Not all rooms are en-suite, but as they start at €74 for a unique and historic experience, it’s hard to fault.
Down in Hossegor, given this town’s surf vibes, why not try Jo&Joe, with the vibrancy of a youth hostel plus modern luxuries. Dorm-style rooms start at €33 per person, while en-suite double rooms are €85. It attracts visitors and locals of all ages so you might not get a silent night, but you’ll have the chance to enjoy plenty of socialising!
Not quirky enough? Try Lo Rey du Lac, a beautiful timber house by the lake offering a treehouse, en-suite bubble-pods in a woodland clearing, and a roulotte. Allow €150- €200 per night with breakfast.
For a low-key B&B, head to Odile and Bertrand’s accommodation with the charming name of La Maison des Tortues (The Turtle House) 5km from Nantes centre, where an overnight stay for two is €70 including breakfast, use of a kitchenette and access to a quiet, flower-filled garden.
Down in Saintes, stay at the wonderfully quirky Bed & Breakfast La Porte Rouge, where you’ll be warmly welcomed by Franco-American couple, Monique and Jim. A double room en-suite costs just €95 including breakfast, which is great value. This charming home filled with eclectic mementoes is in the historic heart of town, an easy walk from restaurants and the river, so you can book a parking spot nearby and simply enjoy strolling in the sun.
Centrally located, Okko Hotel Nantes is a highly original concept offering guests a modern communal lounge, daily apéritif, 24-hour snacks and a fitness centre included in the price of a room. From €119 for a double, this is a great place to experience contemporary French chic without blowing the budget. okkohotels.com/en
Hossegor’s luxury surf lodge, Hôtel Les Hortensias du Lac offers contemporary yet comfortable design, an outdoor pool overlooking the lake, full spa facilities and rooms from €145. Guests can enjoy the renowned restaurant, and use the hotel’s bikes, surfboards and paddleboards.
From France Today magazine
Lead photo credit : Le Grand Hôtel is home to restaurant Le Pressoir d’Argent by Gordon Ramsay © IHG
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