We arrived late in the afternoon and our concierge Mykael took the car keys from M and after escorting us to our rooms and parking the car returned with our bags. Our spacious suite opened onto a view of the most beautiful white sand beach in Europe-6 miles of pristine beauty that we walked barefoot the next morning.
The sitting room offered a gracious welcome-a bottle of the house champagne, a premier cru Brut from René Geoffroy and a basket of berries featuring the very finest framboisesI’ve ever eaten. Furnished by Damien Rios they have an intact stem and leaf, are firm and when you bite into them the fruit separates and you are left with a cone, leaf and stem–a nature-mort.
After freshening up we were met in the lobby by Mykael who escorted us the the restaurant that in the hands of Eric Mignard has retained its 1 star Michelin rating for 26 consecutive years- a standard of consistency that speaks volumes about this marvelous property.
Our young sommelière poured flutes of René Geoffroy’s rosé to accompany our amuse-bouches that starred an incredible oyster from the L’Ile aux Moines that tasted unlike any other and one of those extraordinary raspberries paired with a marinated sardine-ingenious.
For a starter I selected Lotte fumée et marinée au Curcuma et Pomme Paille that I enjoyed with a 2008 Cuvée Black Tie Pinot Gris Riesling from Alasace that the Nez de Neuilly loved. M was smitten with oysters and ordered a half dozen and drank the only ordinary wine of the evening-the classic oyster partner, a Muscadet Sèvre et Maine.
OOPS! I was so busy recalling this meal that I forgot to tell you about the seaweed bread and butter that defy description-pure ecstasy.
Antoine, our dry-witted, young waiter, who was the son of an English teacher and spent a few months working in Ireland amused us and himself with banter, especially when he cautioned me not to drink the water in the finger bowl!
M continued her seafarer’s dinner with a bar, vinaigrette d’Encornet et marmelade de citron with a 2008 Pessac Léognan Haut-Brian from Les Demoiselles Larrivet Haut-Brian
I opted for the filet de volaille de Challans, Raviole d’Oignons, Foie Gras grillé with a totally yummy 2009 Costières de Nimes–a more professional sounding evaluation can be found at the end of this article.
We shared a small assortment of cheeses and continued the habit of sampling cheeses native to the region-this time a Saint Nicolas (chèvre) and drank a 2010 Cotes de Bordeaux.
Dessert was one of my favorites-a light baba au rhum that was not drowned in rum-although there is nothing wrong with that preparation.
Wine Notes from the Nez de Neuilly
1 – vin d’Alsace blanc, rondeur en bouche , très bon
We skipped coffee but as we were the last diners Antoine took us into the intimate lobby bar for a 25-year old Armagnac that he poured and delivered on the veranda where he lit the Hoyo de Monterey Cuban cigar that M and I shared-thank you Bob Glaser.
Sun actually streamed into our windows the next morning-a rarity in this most unusual summer-and we took that leisurely stroll along the beach before saying our goodbyes and thanking Director Lionel Massoneau, Mykael and the rest of the staff for the warm reception.
Since Antoine could not join us for a cigar last night I gave Mykael my last one so that it might be savored by Antoine at the end of his shift.
We had only one more stop on the way home-les Marais Salants de la presqu’ile de Guérande to see how that salt is harvested. M parked her little yellow Twingo and as we got out a family of four: mom, dad, big sister and 4 year-old Louise did the same. And after a quick look Louise walked toward me with her plastic headband extended and suggested that I place it on her head after which she took my hand and held it for the duration of the tour. M is not jealous and mom and dad were cool. A sweet punctuation to another delightful day.
1, avenue Andrieu B.P. 409,
44504 La Baule (Loire-Atlantique)
Tel. : + 33 (0)2 40 11 48 38
Terre de Sel Daily English language tours of the Marais Salants
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