Recently we spent some time in France, with a week first in the Loire region. We stayed in a beautiful countryside cottage, which was absolute bliss – surrounded by the moos of cows and not much else, we were able to relax and enjoy home cooked food in the evenings. We also ventured out each day to explore the nearby regions, including some magnificent châteaux, some local towns, and a few other tourist spots. I then went on to stay at Berny-Riviere for another week while J returned home to work – one of the joys of being a freelancer is not having to worry about how much holiday time you’re taking!
Here I’ve prepared a guide to some of the vegetarian options we found around and about. One word of warning for veggies is that there is not much going in France. Don’t expect to find very many options which are specifically for vegetarians, or that are marked as such on the menus. However, you will find things to eat – it just might mean going for a Margherita pizza a few more times than you would like to. Here are a few options you might enjoy.
The first place we headed for was Le Saint-Louis, a cafe in the grounds of the Chateau de Chambord. This was our first tourist day out, and we spent a long while in the car to get there. We needed some lunch by the time we arrived, and having had a look on TripAdvisor beforehand, I suggested Le Saint-Louis. Here we ordered a croque-monsieur and some croque-madames, all without ham of course. They were a little odd – my mother was convinced that we were eating lard when she tried the gooey, oily cheese spread inside – and the service left a lot to be desired. Still, it was one of the cheapest options at Chambord, and they didn’t taste all that bad. We also had a serving of fries each, and those were quite delicious. One word of advice which quickly became apparent: in the late French summer, wasps are everywhere. We shied away from any food which was on display, as they were crawling all over it.
I won’t wax lyrical about the burger that we had in Angers at the VF Restaurant here. Mostly because I already have. The Fraich’burger was delicious and you can read a full review of it at that link.
As we were leaving Angers on the first day, we stopped at Ma Petite Boulangerie, a little place near to the chateau where we could get a croissant and a dessert each. In fact, the tarte au citron which I picked up on the first day – and the treats that everyone else had – were so good that we went back the next day. The tarte is above, and it was amazing – so delicately balanced, it was not at all sour or bitter. It was perfectly shaped too, and decorated with the little sprinkles of pistachios around the edge.
I then went back for a macaron with raspberries, although it was absolutely ginormous compared to what you normally see. The fruit was fresh and the inside was a creamy mousse. I would have the tarte au citron again if I had to choose between the two, but they were both amazing.
Our next stop was a tour of the Cointreau factory. I have to say, this was AMAZING. You learn all about the history of the brand and how it is made, and you also see the equipment itself – this is the only place in the world that makes Cointreau, as well as a few other drinks, so it’s very interesting. Then you get to try it out in a tasting session. You even get served a cocktail made with Cointreau to show you what it can do. Afterwards, you’re unleashed on the shop, where we maaaay have spent a little too much. The good news is, I got a new lemon/lime squeezer and a cocktail measure, which made me very pleased.
Our next stop happened to be in Angers as well – on the second day in this area, we went back to a place we had heard recommended by someone on the Cointreau tour: Le Pub du Ralliement. There I had the Mediterraneenne pizza, which consisted of aubergine, courgette, peppers, onion, mozzarella, feta, mushroom, and basil. It cost EUR 9.60, which isn’t bad at all. We had a nice quiet meal, and the pizza was delicious – particularly the cheese! We also got a little glimpse of the rugby here, which turned into a running theme throughout the trip.
The last big meal I have to share with you here was at the Creperie St-Pierre la Quichenotte, this time in Saumur. I’d actually seen this one on TripAdvisor as well, spotted that it had a funny name, and also checked out whether or not it had vegetarian food. After a day spent exploring the chateau at Saumur, however, being choosy was the last thing on our minds: we were starving, and just wanted to eat. We tumbled down the hill from the chateau and into the town, following the directions of a local, and stumbled into an open square flanked by restaurants. There we saw the sign for St-Pierrre la Quichenotte, and of course had to go in.
I had a beautiful galette, full of cheese and mushrooms and an egg, topped with tomato sauce. It was basically wonderful. The egg yolk bursts underneath the galette and leaves a mixture of flavours that are just fantastic. I hugely enjoyed the meal and would certainly go there again – it’s very well hidden unless you manage to stumble on that little corner of Saumur, but it’s a real treat if you find it.
Lastly in this region, we headed off to the Fontevraud Abbey to take a look at our last history lesson before leaving. Just outside the abbey we were able to purchase some beautiful little cakes which were on sale in a patisserie there. They were marked as the Fontevraud speciality, so of course we had to try them! They were SO cute and really tasty too. I have absolutely no idea what was in them, but they were thoroughly enjoyable.