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Restaurants of the South Vendee

These are our favourite places to eat.

Best for Eating Out with Children

La Récré at Damvix - Damvix is a pretty little town in the Venise Verte, but is quieter (and nicer) than some of the better known towns nearby. The Récré is built in an old village school and is themed accordingly. The menu comprises imaginatively made pizzas, galettes, crêpes and salads. The garden is lovely and there is a play area inside for children. La Récré on Tripadvisor.

Creperie Chateau de la Citardiere - Located in the forest of Mervent and a convenient lunch venue for walking, La Citadiere is set in a semi-ruined château. The owners run the restaurant in part to fund the on-going renovations. The menu concentrates on crêpes and galettes which are pretty much the best in the area. The emphasis is very much on outdoor dining during the summer months and there is a nice little play area in clear view of the terrace. Some of the recent reviews of this restaurant are not so good, hopefully it is just a blip in service.  La Citadiere on Tripadvisor.

Best for Gastronomy

L'Auberge de la Rivière - Not only is this conveniently located in the neighbouring village of Velluire, but L'Auberge represents outstanding quality for the price. That is not to say it is a cheap night out: this is very much in the fine dining category, approaching Michelin Star levels, though possibly more traditional than is the current fashion. There is a strong emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and menus range from €26 to €55. L'Auberge de la Rivière on Tripadvisor and their website.

Best in La Rochelle

There are a great many restaurants in La Rochelle and picking a favourite is no easy job. However, for dining in small groups Au Gout du Jour takes some beating. The restaurant is lovely and cosy during the winter, cool in the summer with some outside seating. The food is very good, the service welcoming and the menu very firmly French. Au Gout du Jour on Tripadvisor.

Our other long term favourite in La Rochelle is Le Bout en Train, a little restaurant close to the market that produces consistantly good quality modern French cooking, and has a particularly fine wine list.  Le Bout en Train on Tripadvisor.

For larger groups, Le Bar André - something of a La Rochelle institution - is always a good bet. The menu is based around fish & seafood, though other options are available and Bar André caters well for children. Bar André on Tripadvisor and their website.  You can reserve a table on the website (this works - we tried it recently).

Best of All

There were halcyon days when eating out in France - in however humble an establishment - would almost inevitably be good. Practically everything was home made, ingredients were local & seasonal, the cooking was good and value for money excellent. Menus were very limited, changing by the week.

And then things started to change: restaurants started to cut corners by ordering from catering catalogues (the desserts were the first to suffer), menus became immobile, and chefs moved from being cooks to being food technicians.

Happily, there are signs of a change in direction. The number of restaurants making a point of doing things in house and using locally sourced ingredients is very much on the up (practically everywhere we recommend does this) and menus are consolidating, going back to basics.

Our very favourite restaurant - the Hôtel de Vendée in Fontenay - does, for us, everything a French restaurant should do. It's a lunchtime place, for the most part, though larger parties might find the evenings better, and caters best for adults (though children are, of course, very much made welcome). The food is superb, the service just right and the value for money exemplary. Hôtel de Vendée on Tripadvisor and read the entry on our blog here.