Subject: France feedback - lodgings and restaurants
Hi all

it took me more than one month after returning from France, but here's a list of lodgings and restaurants I tried and found good enough for a feedback to The Travelzine:

B&B La Cascade - Bulot - 78740 Vaux sur Seine web address We had a great time at this large mansion surrounded by gardens and with its heated swimming pool. Five large rooms with private bathroom, a friendly atmosphere and a satisfying breakfast sharing the table with other guests; the location is west of Paris, a 30 min drive or 45 min by train from the nearby station. Good relax and very convenient location for exploring Versailles and the western part of Ile-de-France. The price was 50 euro per room per night.

B&B La Paqueraie - Binet - 37320 St.Branchs web address In the heart of Loire Valley, this top-class lodging sits in the middle of endless fields, inside a small wood shielding it from the view. Manicured lawns, flower beds, a large swimming pool outside; inside the house has tasty decorations and furniture, every room expertly furnished on a different theme. The hosts, Mr and Mrs Binet welcome their guests on gourmet dinners (upon reservation, but priced as low as 25 euro pp, all included) with silverware, candles and special wine selection! Room price varies from 60 to 80 euro, breakfast included.

Hotel Dormy House - 76790 Etretat - Normandy web address This *** hotel can barely be missed, as it looms over the town of Etretat atop of one of the high white cliffs for which the place is well known. It has several small buildings, two or three stories high, some rooms overlook the beach and the town, some the surrounding wooded hills. Standard size rooms, no elevator, a bit pricey in my view, but the location and the high season were against us, so we paid 76 euro for each double room, plus 12.20 euro pp for buffet breakfast, average food quality and quantity.

Hotel Le Lyon d'Or - 14400 Bayeux - Normandy web address A *** hotel right in the middle of old Bayeux, inside an old cobblestone courtyard. While the hotel was very nice, with large rooms and cosy interiors, plus an elegant restaurant, I wasn't happy when I was forced to take the half-board instead of the BB only. Being with two kids, the luxury 4-course dinner was not necessary; they ate only a fraction of all that food and I ended up paying 324 euros for 2 rooms for one night. Anyway I feel like suggesting the hotel if you are adults and love good food and wine.

Hotel Formule Vert - 50170 Le Mont Saint-Michel - Normandy e-mail st-michel@l... phone 02 33601413 A ** basic new hotel, no history, no atmosphere but clean rooms and a nice buffet breakfast for a competitive price just off the dyke, 4 km from the Mont and with public transport running all the day. Price for a family room (4 persons) was 93 euro per night all included

And now, for all you budget-conscious gourmets a few suggestions about friendly restaurants I enjoyed:

Auberge de L'Ile de France - Villennes sur Seine Hidden among town houses and advertised only by a small sign and a smaller lantern, this little but well-looking restaurant with outdoor seating was our last hope for a late dinner. I became a very pleasant dinner experience, with different menus and very friendly helpful staff. The price was about 25 euro pp

Taverne Maitre Kanter - 193 av.Napoleon Bonaparte - 92500 Rueil Malmaison Just off the main road intersection to the Chateau of Malmaison, this is a large restaurant-brasserie with wide choice of Alsatian and sea food. I suspect the name belongs to a restaurant chain as I met it elsewhere. Upscale interiors, fast service, children menus and reasonable price.

Restaurant Bisson - 1 rue du Gen De Gaulle - 78120 Rambouillet We had just walked out of a Michelin-suggested restaurant in Chantilly, after the owner had been rude with us because we dared to ask, very politely, if there was something for the children outside the complicated menu. So, when we were seated in the garden of this restaurant facing the Rambouillet castle we were a bit suspicious, but this time we appreciated both the food and the place, even if the restaurant was full and the service slow. Several fixed price menus to choose from, for about 25 euro pp

Le Cafe Serpente - 2 Cloitre Notre Dame - 28000 Chartres This noisy and always full cafe on the right side of Chartres cathedral is suggested by many books. The zinc-lined counter, the waiters with long black aprons, the vintage pictures at the walls are just the look, but the reality is you can have anything there, from a ham-and-butter sandwich to a 4-course meal. Don't forget the wonderful desserts, displayed in a glass showcase. Being such a known place, you can't expect bargain prices, but 20 to 25 euros do the deal.

The Creperie inside Clos Luce Castle in Amboise, Loire This small cafe inside the museum has the tastiest sarrasin gallettes (crepes with brown flour) I ever had! The price was so low I can't even remember it.

La Salamandre - 19 Place de la Republique - 37190 Azay-Le-Rideau - Loire Eating under a cooling tree canopy facing the castle of Azay, with limited choice but fast service and tasty food. I usually try to avoid the restaurants placed just too close to tourist attractions, as they can often pump up their prices and serve bad food capitalizing on their location, but this was a pleasant exception, at least the food.

Auberge du Mail - 37320 Cormery - Loire Another very pleasant surprise, a restaurant with outdoor seating hidden in the tiny village of Cormery. The food was carefully arranged, the wine from local cellars outstanding and the dessert selection remarkable. There was a children menu too, but the biggest surprise was the check, 56 euro for the 4 of us!

I hope someone will be able to take advantage of my findings. Best regards

Paolo Trieste, Italy