Category: My Heart’s Home (France)

À très bientôt Duras!

Duras France

From the moment I set foot in the beautiful French village of Duras, I fell madly in love. Something magical came over me — as though I had been there in another life. After traveling through many different areas in France (and in the southwest itself), no other place has managed to woo me as the convivial little town I now refer to as ‘my heart’s home’.

Back to Duras, as planned!

Duras, FranceJust a few days after I wrote the last post (almost a month ago!), I received a huge assignment from Vriendin, one of the Dutch magazines I write for — fifty-seven recipes needed to be developed for nine culinary productions, and most of them had to be ready within the space of a month! That is a whole lot of writing, not to mention a whole lot of cooking! Of course, DUTCH was also a priority, and to top it all off, I started working with two new wonderful clients! One of them is giving me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. I have spoken with some amazing Dutch designers recently and even started to try my hand at fashion writing. (Fun side note here: while in high school, I was the fashion editor of our school newspaper!) So, as you can gather, my schedule has been crazy.
For a while (even before this busy period started), I really thought a vacation was going to be impossible.

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage (& Nord-Pas-de-Calais), Part III

I was supposed to write a follow-up to my last post, but France didn’t let me. We got back to our apartment after a lovely dinner at Restaurant Du Marché, and the only thing I wanted to do was let the whole day just sink in.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage We ate at Du Marché last year, but I had no idea it was such a popular place until last Saturday evening. Swarms of wealthy Parisians started pouring in at around 8PM, removing their fancy fur coats and ordering glasses of champagne. The place was absolutely buzzing, and the food was great. I had the Marmite Du Marché, a rich fish soup with cream, mussels, cod, salmon and potatoes. So incredibly good! How I wish I would’ve had room for dessert. Instead I had a Grand Marnier. Majorly bummed that they didn’t have Armagnac.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageThe next day was Easter Sunday and even though we weren’t home, I still tried to make our table a little festive. We had a nice breakfast (though everyone was so not amused with my stinky Maroilles) and then headed out for a drive through the countryside and beaches. If you know me, you probably know that my heart belongs to Le Sud Ouest. This region, however, has something magical. I feel that every time I look out over the endless hills or breathe in the salty ocean air.
Our drive took us through a few different places, including Wimereux, Audresselles and Ambleteuse, where we stopped for lunch.
Nord Pas-de-Calais IMG_4401 (1) unnamed (1)When hubby suggested where we should go for lunch, I hesitated. From the looks of the place, called ‘Le Freestyle‘, I wasn’t too convinced. We went in and were greeted by a very friendly young man who quickly seated us. Just in time, because moments later, everyone who came in was turned down. It was a simple resto, all decked out in American style (license plates everywhere, blues and country music playing in the background). The food (and wine) were surprisingly good. I had the regional specialty, potjevleesch, which is a cold meat terrine, somewhat similar to Burgundy’s jambon persillé. If I’m back in the area, I will definitely return.
IMG_4412I even had room for dessert, a yummy café gourmand, with a kick ass mousse au chocolat and crème brûlée.
dessertThe rest of the day included a little relaxing and more walks on the beach. We certainly took advantage of the beautiful weather.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-CalaisThat night we also made a late dinner reservation, just so we could see the sun set. It was stunning. We walked down the boulevard as the sun slowly went to sleep, not saying ‘good-bye’, just saying ‘until next time’.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageLe Touquet-Paris-PlageOur dinner reservation was at Café Leffe, one of the few places that was not fully booked. I think all of Paris arrived (and quickly booked every restaurant!) the day before. Luckily, this proved to be a lovely place, too. I started with oysters and a glass of Chardonnay. My main was the leg of lamb (succulent and beautifully cooked), and for dessert, I had to have the crêpe with salted caramel. Yes, I was stuffed, but it was worth it!
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageThat last day was well-spent. The next morning, after a pain au raisin, we headed back to Holland.
boulangerieCan’t wait to see you again, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage!
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, Part II

When I signed off my post yesterday, I quickly swiped on some lipstick, fluffed my hair and off we went for dinner. To be very honest, I did not have much of an appetite. In fact, when we got to the restaurant, I was debating whether to order a mineral water instead of wine. Luckily, I came back to my senses, ordered us a carafe of white and proceeded to go for the three course menu (fish terrine, moules frites and Îles flottantes). Hubby had a charcuterie plate, followed by steak with pepper cream sauce and cheese for dessert. Kirstie had mussels, and half of my dessert. We dined at Le Coq Hardi. Cozy place with great service and lovely food.
Le Coq Hardi Le Touquet-Paris-PlageAfter a good night’s sleep, I woke up and made some filter coffee, which was disgusting. Down the drain it went as hubby rescued us by hooking up the Nespresso. I made fried eggs, toasted baguette and prayed that the weather would shape up in time for our market trip. It didn’t. It was gray, cold and wet. The market was the opposite, however.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage MarketLe Touquet-Paris-Plage’s market is delightful, colorful and smells of the ocean. Good thing that the best part of the market (the food) was covered. I only bought a piece of Maroilles, the regional stink cheese. I’m only here for three days, so I choose to let the restaurants feed me. But who can resist a cheese that is so powerful, it almost walks out of the fridge on its own.
We made a reservation for lunch and drove to our nearest supermarket where I stocked up on the bare necessities.
wine shoppingNote: only the wine is mine.
After a walk on the beach (with no rain!), we headed to À Table. Very nice place again, and the food! My seafood salad was so, so good. I think it had at least five hundred shrimp, as well as mussels, raw herring and samphire. It was washed down with one liter of wine (not kidding, not sorry). I was actually planning on being good and first ordered half a carafe. Then hubby ordered more, telling me to sit back, relax and enjoy. Which I did.
seafood saladThe café gourmand was also lovely. Especially the apple-cinnamon smoothie!
dessertWe enjoyed our lunch so much, that we were one of the last to leave.
IMG_4246Before going back to the apartment (to nap), we went for a walk at the beach and made a round through the city where I picked up a huge tray of strawberries, a bottle of bubbles and some bread for our Easter brunch tomorrow.
IMG_4222That’s my 15-year-old, sporting her new (and way too expensive) red lipstick.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageAs you see, no more rain to speak of.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageIt’s been a lovely day so far, despite the messy seaside hairstyles we’re all sporting. When I sign off, I’ll be slapping on some lipstick again and going out for dinner. Hard life. But probably not as hard as that of the gentleman standing in front of the Easter bunny in the photo below. I don’t know what was going on there, but it didn’t look pretty. Just another day in France. See you tomorrow! PS: Read my first post here.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage