It’s been a few centuries since beautiful, fortified, medieval town of Montreuil has been “sur mer” as the estuary silted up long ago. But it still sits snug behind its ramparts. Some say that from above, encircled in its stone walls, Montreuil looks like a cooking pot, and its cobbled streets were the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”.
But there is certainly nothing miserable about this town or its 2,800 inhabitants. Montreuil is a gastronomic gem, buzzing with great wine and food shops (Au Gré des Blés for bread, Fromagerie Caseus for cheese, Vinophilie and la Cave de Montreuil for wine, lively café terrasses and a terrific Saturday morning market. It’s also home to Alexandre Gauthier, one of France’s most innovative young chefs, and his string of restaurants. After taking over his father’s Michelin starred La Grenouilière, four kilometres from Montreuil’s centre, Gauthier went on to gain two Michelin stars there and open three further addresses. Froggy’s Tavern, a fun, modern rustic grill-house, L’Anecdote, an elegant high ceilinged, brasserie, beautifully designed by architect Patrick Bouchain and Pieux, his beautiful townhouse, offering super-chic B&B.
There’s nothing like having your own space and freedom to taste and cook all your foodie finds, and Geneviève Nicholl’s charming gites Labedelo and La Tour are perfect to unpack fresh strawberries and raspberries you can pick yourself (from April to October) at nearby Ferme de Montéchor. But if you prefer to have your bed and breakfast made for you, Tim Matthew’s increasingly famous and most gorgeous B&B, Maison 76, will oblige.