We’ve been to Romorantin in Sologne before and loved the fresh produce market. At the bread baking day in Les Grouets, Le Lion d’or was recommended to us as being one of the best restaurants in the region so we’ve decided to try it out for our 16th wedding anniversary.
We’re coming directly from Paris so we’ve timed it to arrive at about 12.30 pm. We leave slightly later than planned and encounter traffic jams. Traffic is obviously being rerouted for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I’m a bit on edge because I hate being late but as we approach the turn-off to Chartres, things get back to normal.
It’s 12.45 when we park outside the hotel restaurant which is perfect. I straighten out my linen skirt which maybe isn’t the best choice for a 2 1/2 hour car ride and we walk in. The garden is visible from the doorway and it looks incredibly inviting. The service is friendly and discreet and remains so throughout.
The set menu is 68 euro for 3 set courses (no choice) and doesn’t tempt us. We decide to order from the regular menu and choose local specialities – asparagus, which Sologne is famous for, a chanterelle mushroom vol au vent, rabbit and pigeon.
To accompany them, after our initial glass of champagne, we choose two local whites (a glass each, of course, not a bottle): a cour cheverny with the famous romorantin grape imported by François I and a touraine sauvignon, both of which are excellent. There is only one local red sold by the glass, a respectable saumur champigny, so we take the only other choice, a tarn, to accompany the pigeon.
We choose not to have dessert as I notice that the people at the next table have an excellent selection of mignardises with their coffee.
The perfect weather, surroundings and service help us to digest the 328 euro bill. We regret that not one of the dishes we ate flattered our taste buds which is really the only criteria for good cuisine, no matter what the price. In our books, Les Hauts de Loire, at Onzain halfway between Blois and Chaumont, remains by far the best dining experience within an hour’s drive of home.
The weather is so beautiful that as soon as we reach Closerie Falaiseau, we unpack the car, change into more comfortable clothes and drive to the bike path on the other side of Blois. By 5 pm, we’re in the saddle.
It’s lovely to be back on our bikes after the awful month of cold and rain we’ve just experienced. We keep to the bike path that is part of Eurovélo 6 (the one that took us along the Danube last summer) and runs along the Loire.
The roses are just stunning in some of the little villages such as Cour sur Loire. We stop to take photos of the lavoir, relieved that it’s not pelting with rain the way it was last time we were here.
We pass some free-range chickens and guinea-fowls and eventually get to the outskirts of Mer. You’d think with a name like that that it would be on the coast but in fact mer comes from mera meaning marsh.
I see a sign advertising a bar/grocery store/local wine store called L’Epicerie and soon see it on the left before we get to the centre of the town. We put our bikes in the racks and make our way to the inviting courtyard. We treat ourselves to a very cold local sauvignon but refuse the Iberian platter. We’re not really hungry, I have to say!
We start chatting with the very friendly owner and learn she also has a brocante. Goodness, what a find! The grocery shop is full of all sorts of local foods and delicacies, including chocolate champagne glasses.
The brocante, which is more like an antique store, is beautifully kept with quite a large range of interesting finds. Unfortunately, nothing takes our eye but we’ll be back another day.
By the time we get back to the car, after 40 k and over 2 ½ hours in the saddle, I’m rather relieved that next day is going to be relâche!