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  • Shannon Elisabeth

French Countryside Restaurants




Each Friday morning, I point to an unfamiliar village on my GPS and leap in the car to pursue it. After locating a spot to park under the shade of a tree, Gemma dog and I explore. We tramp along stubbly farm paths, and I marvel at the picturesque villages in the distance. Pointy roofs huddle around a solitary slate church steeple. There is something essentially French about this landscape. What makes me think this? Geometric-shaped vineyards cover hillsides, brown patches of dead sunflower fields, straight lines of cherry orchards, and ridges of once-fields.

After our long walk, I scan for the village café. The restaurants are modest, with a hand-written menu on a chalkboard and a sign that reads: Vraie Cuisine Maison (Real Home Cooking) or "Plats faits Maison" (Homemade dishes). Gemma dog is always allowed to sit under the table, and the owners bring her a bowl of water. I cast a glance around the bare room and know that some might leave immediately because of the homely ambiance and lack of branding. But I know better. I glance around the room, where hand-picked flowers adorn wooden tables, and the smell of roasted vegetables and sizzling chicken soothe me.


I might start with Terrine de canard, followed by fish in a rosemary lemon sauce and a crusty baguette. Or maybe a courgettes & tomates tarte salé. Sometimes a cheese course follows. I'm often too full for dessert, but I could choose from dacquoise aux cacahuetes & quetsches or mousse au chocolat. I seem to be the only one who doesn't drink coffee after lunch, but if I did, I'd ask for milk, which would result in a dramatic shrug. (The French don't believe milk should be in coffee after breakfast as it's bad for digestion).

I am full for the rest of the day and pleasantly satisfied as if Grand-mère cooked for me.  

I'm going to keep track of these restaurants and write about them each Friday. And perhaps you can pay a visit someday. Let's keep these little villages alive!

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