Tag Archives: Brittany

Les Nautes: newcomer by the Seine

Les Nautes is one of the latest additions to the Parisian restaurant scene. Located right by the Seine and in front of the Île Saint-Louis, this old customs house has an industrial feel to it. I loved its unusual entrance. Once inside, I admired beautiful wooden tables, 13 pendant Alvar Aalto lamps (golden, like we have at home!) and art pieces (sculpture and paintings) by young artists. Bravo for the original decoration! Les NautesRecommended by Le Fooding, our food bible to eating in Paris, Les Nautes had been on our list since its opening last October (the bar opened one year earlier). We live a five-minute walk away from the restaurant and believe it is important to support the neighborhood restaurants –that’s how the arrondissements of Paris stay vivant (alive)!

We had the corner table by the window and enjoyed watching touristic boats cruise along the Seine. Bread, butter and Poisson Rouge arrived, and we got to taste this curious, organic white wine from Lanquedoc-Roussillon that actually is red by color! It tasted fruity and had I closed my eyes, I probably wouldn’t have tasted its “color”. It was the most perfect pairing with oysters and our main courses: fish and meat. oysters at Les NautesFor starters, we shared six oysters from the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, Britanny, and they were the best oysters I have eaten for a long time. In fact, as this oyster season (which started last September) has been very mild, I find that oysters have not been at their best this winter. And if you follow my blog, you may remember that I regularly eat these seafood delicacies…Les NautesFor the main course, my husband ate tuna and I had entrecôte. Both dishes were succulent, and the taste of the fish and meat proved that the restaurant goes out of its way to find only the best products. The only regret we had was that the side dishes for both of us was the same (rather ordinary-tasting courgettes with cream).

The bill came to 77€ for two, including a shared starter, two main courses and a bottle of wine (19€). Very reasonable for such great quality I consider, and we will definitely return!

PS: First of all, Les Nautes recently changed the chef, so I would not count too much on the older Tripadvisor reviews. Secondly, Les Nautes also has a bar by the river, and I bet it will be one of the hottest terraces in Paris this summer! Especially during the Paris Plage when the cars cannot circulate nearby.

Restaurant (http://www.lesnautes.com): 1 Quai des Célestins, 75004 Paris. Tel. 01-42745953. Metro: Sully Morland or Pont Marie

Le Fooding review: http://lefooding.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-les-nautes-paris

Wine: http://www.vins-bios.fr/domaine-de-clairac-coteaux-d-enserune-languedoc/471-poisson-rouge-2010-domaine-de-clairac-coteaux-d-enserune-.html

Lamps: Alvar Aalto bell lamps from 1937 find a new home in Paris

Top Ten of 2013

One year and one week ago I started my blog, encouraged by a friend. I will always be indebted to her as this has been such a wonderful experience and one hell of a ride if I may say. The blog has brought an entirely new dimension to my life; I could have never thought about making so many new friends and attracting so many followers. My sincerest thanks to everyone of you!!

To celebrate this one-year anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to look back and see what the highlights of the year were. Enjoy, and pick the post that most interests you!

1. The most read postBus ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. Laos is a fantastic, rewarding country, but traveling inside is not always simple. I am happy that my post has helped so many thousands of travelers to enjoy Laos!

2. The second-most read postEat Drink Sleep Siem Reap (survival guide to Siem Reap). Nothing to add. Angkor temples, initially built by the Hindu kings, continue to fascinate the entire world. And Siem Reap is the base for exploring this UNESCO World Heritage site.Angkor temples

3. The third-most read postKoh Lipe: mixed feelings. Thailand. Well. I did not fall in love with Koh Lipe, a tiny island in the Andaman Sea near Langkawi, Malaysia. I hear Koh Lipe was quite a paradise ten years but to me it seems the word “sustainable” was forgotten along the way…

4. The most-read post about FinlandIce swimming in Finland. One of my favorite posts, too! Have a look if you haven’t already but do not believe everything I say.

5. The most educational postEating oysters in months without “r”. Oysters, this ancient delicacy! A lot of people wonder when it is safe to eat them. Read my post and tell me, “r” or not to “r”! oysters

6. The most read recipeCôte de Bœuf (ultimate French meat dish). A classic French dish; so simple but delicious! Now you know where to get your iron boost.

7. My first-ever post!Thursday night in Paris

8. The most family-oriented postFranco-Finnish Christmas meal. Christmas in Paris with my parents, husband and French delicacies.

9. The best design object portrayedAlvar Aalto bell lamps from 1937 find a new home in ParisAlvar Aalto lamp

10. The post about friendshipMaking friends over the Indian Ocean. A story about friendship that developed over the Indian Ocean and developed in Tanzania.

PS If you are on Facebook, why not to follow Pearlspotting there too?

Franco-Finnish Christmas meal

Last year we spent Christmas in Paris with my parents who flew over from Finland. Traditional Finnish Christmas meal includes ham but I do not eat ham and my parents were curious to eat like the French, so this is what our Franco-Finnish Christmas meal looked like and consisted of:

1. Champagne for apéritif! My father was responsible for opening the bottle and my mother was ready with her glass (Finnish design, naturally). champagne for aperitif

2. We begun with an Elegant amuse-bouche recipe for Christmas that included Russian caviar and scallops tarama:elegant amuse-bouche

3. And continued with oysters from Cancale  (oysters are an integral part of French Christmas): oysters from Cancale

4. From oysters we moved onto foie gras (another integral part of French Christmas!): foie gras at ChristmasUntil now we had been drinking champagne but this is when we switched to sweet white wine by Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon: Le Rêve de Pennautier, “Vendanges d’Après” Vin de France (BLANC MOELLEUX). An excellent choice, a sublime wine!!

5. After the oysters we enjoyed some Finnish smoked salmon….smoked salmon from Finland

6. …before moving to our already very famous French Christmas meal: stuffed goose from Les Provincesstuffed gooseWe also opened another fantastic bottle of Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon: Mas des Montagnes, “Terroirs d’Altitude”,  AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages. This extraordinary red went so well with the goose that we could only say “wow”. And continue eating.

7. After the goose it was finally time to dig into cheese and there is no better time to eat Mont d’Or than Christmas: mont d'or cheese(Unfortunately the wine (red Irancy) was not the most perfect choice to go with the cheese; especially after the previous wine)

8. If you now think we could not eat any more, you are wrong… For dessert, we had marron glacé and calissons: Marron glacé

with some chocolate and vin chaudChristmas chocolate and vin chaud

Our Christmas was merry and delicious, and I hope yours was too!

If you want to know more about our cooking ingredients etc., have a look at this post too: Christmas meal essentials!

And to learn more about the wines, please go here:

PS If you liked this post, you may want to check out Pearlspotting’s Facebook page! Especially since I am flying to Venice tonight and will be updating from there too.

Oysters – what else?

What would a birthday be without oysters? Incomplete, in my world!

Yesterday we opened the box of oysters that waited for me in front of our front door last Saturday, on A special day!  There were just over three dozens of size two Jean d’Cancale oysters inside and they were fresh as hell. What a lunch. Thank you again those who gave me this lovely present.oysters

Where to find Jean d’Cancale oysters in Paris: http://www.jean-d-cancale.com/deguster-des-huitres-a-paris.php

Description of the white wine: Marriage of oysters and nouveau wine

PS Since some of you have started wondering if oysters are part of my daily nutrition (they are not, I assure you!), I will try to keep a short break from any oyster-related posts and references… at least until Christmas!

A special day!

Once in a while my lifestyle/food/wine blog gets more egocentric and personal, and today is one of those days –it is my birthday!

This is what it looked like in the morning when I woke up: Parisian apartment

The first thing I received in the morning was this beautiful bouquet my husband got me. It is on the fire place in the living room next to some Finnish design objects. Parisian bouquet of flowers

Then we paid a visit to Edouard Nahoum who sells excellent and elegant jewellery with friendly service…. and I got to visit his atelier!

Then, as I arrived at home a while ago, this box full of oysters from Cancale was waiting for me in front of our apartment’s door. Merci beaucoup dear Parisian friends!! What a lovely gesture!!Cancale oysters

Indeed, une belle journée and it is not even finished yet. We are now heading to a restaurant but I have no idea which one. I have been trying to guess but my husband’s lips are sealed. I guess I will find out soon enough, and you dear followers will know some time next week, too. Until then, have a lovely evening and preferably with some champagne! 


Oyster season opening

Every year it is the same. In the end of the summer, I start eagerly looking forward to September. Why? Doesn’t everyone want summer to last forever? No, I don’t, because I know that September brings something wonderful to my life… It is the first month that contains the famous “r” letter, which according to the common belief indicates that now it is a good time to restart eating oysters!

Eating oysters in months without “r” is something I do, too, especially if I am traveling in oyster-producing regions like Bretagne (Brittany), but I do know that falling temperatures make oysters loose their milkiness. And this is why many consumers prefer to skip eating them in summer.

For almost one month now I have been asking people if they have already tasted this delicious shellfish. I have even recruited my husband to conduct a survey at his work… His boss responded “still milky, wait a bit”. Some others laughed, “I eat oysters all year round, I don’t care about the milkiness!”. A friend, who is a big fan of Bretagne, like us, said “they (oysters) are getting there”…oysters at Le Cabanon de l'ÉcaillerImpatient to wait longer, we headed to Le Cabanon de l’Écailler last Friday to officially open our oyster season. Their oysters come from Charente-Maritime, which is roughly speaking between Bordeaux and Nantes (the southern tip of Bretagne). I ordered nine oysters of fine de claire and my husband ordered the same amount of fine de Ronce. Mine were tiny, too small for my taste, but the ones of my husband were really tasty (and much bigger).

We opened the season with a bottle of white Chablis, and made a toast to a successful and long oyster season. Vive les Huîtres!

Le Cabanon de l’Écailler: 14 place Constantin-Brancusi, 75014 Paris. Tel. 01-43205217

Crêperie du Port, Cancale

Over the years, we have been to three different crêperies in Cancale and there is one above the others: Crêperie du Port.

The service is always very friendly and fast, and atmosphere cosy. The restaurant seems very all-kind-of-people friendly, and I have seen them making effort to welcome everyone, no matter how much space a customer may require (wheelchairs, prams, etc.). Crêperie du PortDuring the coquille SaintJacques (scallop) season, I love to order the scallop and leek-fondue galette (made of gluten-free buckwheat flour). I think it is my all-time favorite savory galette!

Sadly, it was no longer the scallop season in Cancale last week. I asked the waiter and he said they only serve scallops when they can get them fresh. I searched the menu and found an other galette that seemed similar. It said pétoncles, and my husband said pétoncles are similar to coquille SaintJacques, but just smaller (if you are curious, type these French names on your Internet search, and see the English translators: they are both translated “scallop”… confusing!)scallop and leek galetteSo, I ordered my pétoncles galette and it was delicious. It was as good as my usual favorite galette, and the only difference was that the scallop pieces were a tiny bit smaller, and there was no leek (instead, there were mushroom). I loved it.petoncle galetteMy husband ordered his usual choice: galettes à l’andouillette, which is basically a coarse-grained sausage of pork, intestines or chitterlings, seasoned with pepper, wine, onions. Yep! Sounds hmmm interesting! I don’t eat pork, so I find this disgusting, but I tell you, many people love it. If you are adventurous, go for it (but please just keep the plate close to you, as it smells strong).

We ate our galettes with local cider (see the first photo), which was such a delight! I loved how it tasted so natural, with just the right acidity. It was real cider (not filled with chemicals and sugar)!

PS a tip: This time we did not have dessert, but I strongly urge you to taste the crêpe caramel au beurre salé (crêpe made of white wheat flour, with salty butter caramel). This crêpe is the best dessert ever invented in the world (no exaggeration!) and it is DIVINE. And the best is that if you cannot or do not want eat gluten (white wheat flour), you can ask the crêperie to make this crêpe with buckwheat flour! Do not hesitate to ask. I have done it many times and usually there are no objections. I personally find the buckwheat flour and caramel combination not bad, but see it for yourself!

Address (the main street, by the port): La Houle, 1 Place du calvaire, CancaleTel: +33-(0)2-99 89 60 66

L’huitrière, Cancale

We walked by L’huitrière many times during our visits to Cancale before actually trying it. I guess we thought it cannot be good if the prices are so low. We were wrong.L'huitrière CancaleL’huitrière is run by a family of local oyster farmers. There are different menus and the prices start at 12€ (starter, main course, dessert), but one can also order outside the menus. Last week I ordered a fish soup for a starter and it was served with rouille, emmental cheese and croutons. It was a pleasure to eat my soup. fish soup L'huitrièreFor the main course I wanted to order the house specialty,  the skate fish served with cider-soaked cabbage and capers, but unfortunately I was told that the cabbage season ended some months ago! What a big disappointment. I love this dish (it is called raie aux câpres et son embeurré de choux au cidre and you can see it in the photo below). Instead, I chose the normal skate fish, and I did not like it. It came with an 80’s style white sauce, boiled vegetables and tagliatelle…

My husband ordered mussels and french fries, and loved the mussels (les moules marinières).raie aux capresAs dessert I chose sorbet and one cannot go very wrong with that… Previously I have had Ile Flottante but I was just not that hungry any more. Next time however I will return to the “floating island” made of meringue.

I do think that for this low prices (12€!), it is worth eating at L’huitrière, but one should know something about ordering. My rules for future are these:

1) Stick to local ingredients (mussels, fresh oysters, whelks (boulots) and fish soup. Do not go for exotic options like squid –it is not native to Bretagne.

2) Ask for seasonal recommendations.

3) If the house specialty is available, have the skate fish with capers and cider cabbage. It is very tasty and a good combination of ingredients. Just be careful how to eat it (it comes with bones that can be tricky).

4) Mussels are available at most times of the year and are “always good”! They are a very safe choice.


14 Quai Gambetta, Cancale. Tel: +33-(0)2-99 89 75 05.


Au Pied de Cheval, Cancale

Au Pied de Cheval is usually our first stop upon arrival in Cancale. This was the case last Thursday, too. Instead of dropping our bags at the hotel, we parked the car in front of this charming “oyster house”.  Au Pied de Cheval CancaleDuring the entire journey from Paris we had been dreaming and talking about les bulots (whelks) and les huîtres (oysters) so we knew what we wanted to order. You don’t need to follow our habits –by all means go and explore all types of seafood (the menu is in English!)– but this is what we ordered last Thursday (and what we usually order):

Starter: we begun with a whelk and pink prawn plate to share (10€). The plate comes with a  bowl of mayonnaise.

We also ordered a bottle of Muscadet Sur Lie for 18€. This dry white wine comes from the western side of the Loire Valley and is usually served with oysters (and seafood in general). whelks and pink prawnsMain course: we ordered two portions of une douzaine (a dozen) of huîtres creuses. At Au Pied de Cheval, the oysters are sold by la douzaine, and there are two types of oysters:  huîtres creuses that are bowl shaped and huîtres plates that are flat. We prefer the bowl-shaped ones, but again, it is up to your taste!

After choosing the type, we needed to choose the size. Number 5 is the smallest oyster and number 00 the largest. We ordered a dozen of number 0 and a dozen of number 1. Again, up to your taste! To put things in perspective, the common size sold at any “standard” restaurant is usually number 2… types of oysters Our oysters were really big, and yet I usually like the number 0 and 1, I now think we should have maybe chosen something smaller. I explained in Eating oysters in months without “r” that this time of the year (the summer) makes oysters milky and soft in France, and I believe that smaller oysters would have better hidden these aspects that do affect oysters’ taste and texture. If you are unsure which number to choose, ask for advice! huitres creuses CancaleTip: Oysters in Bretagne are often eaten with either lemon or red wine vinegar with shallot. If the oysters are at the table, bread is served, but there is no red vinegar, ask for vinaigre aux échalotes. Of course you can eat oyster without anything, but for example I like mixing: one oyster with nothing, the next one with vinegar…

Our meal was more than sufficient, and tasty. Au Pied de Cheval has been consistently good over the years and that is why we keep returning there. Another tip to share is that if you fancy a more restaurant-like setting, ask for a table upstairs. Downstairs is more like an oyster bar and since the door is open almost all the time, it can get chilly and you should dress warmly. In general do not wait for an overly enthusiastic welcome or amazing service –just focus on eating your delicious oysters and you will be happy!

Restaurant Au Pied de Cheval: 10, quai Gambetta, Cancale. Tel: +33-(0)2-99 89 76 95.
PS There is one in Saint-Malo, too. tel: -33-(0)2-99 40 98 18.

Cancale: my favorite weekend trip destination from Paris

Bretagne (Brittany) is one of my favorite regions of France. I love the seafood and the scenery the region offers. I am maybe partially subjective (my husband’s father’s side is Breton), but just a tiny bit… Bretagne is an amazingly stunning region full of cute fishing villages, numerous historic sites and friendly, down to earth people. The region is well preserved and it has more coastline than any other region in France (almost 3000km).CancaleWhen we have an opportunity to go away for a short weekend, we often choose Cancale. Cancale is exactly 396km from the center of Paris and if there is no traffic, it is possible to do the journey in four hours. We usually go by the A13 highway (which passes by Normandy) and drive until Pontorson. Right after Pontorson we turn right, direction Saint-Georges-de-Gréhaigne. After driving by another small village, Saint-Broladre, we watch out for a small sign “Chapelle Sainte-Anne” (be attentive, it is easily missed). Once we arrive at Chapelle Sainte-Anne we leave the car and walk to the sea (which is very near by) to admire Mont Saint-Michel. Wow, what a view! And so close to Paris! From Chapelle Sainte-Anne, Cancale is only 24km away. I strongly recommend choosing this route because it goes right by the sea and passes by oyster-farming villages. As a bonus, you have Mont Saint-Michel on your right-hand side most of the time (during the clear skies).CancaleCancale has a lot to offer to a tourist in terms of accommodation and restaurants, but I will hereby share our usual addresses.

For sleeping, we usually opt eithLe Grande Largeer for Le Querrien (starting at 59€ low season) or for Le Grand Large (starting at 45€ all year round). Both hotels are by the sea (the port) and have a restaurant. Le Querrien has three stars and Le Grand Large to me seems more like a two-star hotel. The latter has a free parking in front of the hotel (see the photo on the left). Both have a friendly personnel. It is probably fair to say that Le Querrien is more comfortable in terms of amenities, whereas Le Grand Large is more like a charming old grandparents’ house. Prices vary quite a lot according to the season and it is best to call them up. For example, last week we were at Le Grand Large and paid 50€ for a room with a sea view (the price they quoted on telephone was more interesting than the Internet prices on hotel.com and similar websites). We thought 50€ was very reasonable.View from Hotel Le Grand LargeMy previous articles What to pack for Bretagne (Brittany)?  and  Eating oysters in months without “r” mentioned one of our favorite Cancale restaurants, Au Pied de Cheval, Cancale.  We usually start here and fill our stomachs with a dozen of oysters. Last Thursday we left Paris at 10h and arrived in Cancale at 15h30. Good thing about Au Pied de Cheval is that it is open all day long, so there is no stress about arriving in Cancale at a certain time. For dinner, we usually go to another restaurant also on the main street (by the port) called L’huitrière, Cancale. I have been to many other restaurants in Cancale, and don’t mistake me, you can eat well everywhere! Should you wish crêpes & galettes, I recommend Crêperie du Port, Cancale.IMG_3887If you wonder what else there is to do in Cancale apart from eating oysters, I can tell you that there are fantastic beaches when you drive toward Saint-Malo by the scenic northern road. For hikers, there is also a GR34, which offers Saint-Malo on one side and Mont Saint-Michel on the other side. As we like jogging, we always take running shoes with us and take advantage of the clean seaside air. (Tip for runners: if you are in the center of Cancale facing the sea, start running toward the East, Mont Saint-Michel, along the bay. You can run for about 25 minutes along the beach (you will see when you cannot go further) and once you turn back and arrive in Cancale, it will make a nice 50 minute run)

Otherwise, some other great things to do in Cancale (and in Bretgane in general) are observing the tides (the tide around Cancale is one of the most important ones in the entire Europe) and watching fishermen collecting oysters, mussels and other seafood.oyster-farming in CancaleIf you have been to Cancale, what do you think is the best thing to do there? Do you have a favorite hotel or a restaurant? Does observing the tide seem like a pleasant pastime to you?


Chapelle Sainte-Anne: http://www.cc-baie-mont-st-michel.fr/chapelle-sainte-anne.htm

Hotel Le Querrien: http://www.le-querrien.com/

Hotel Le Grand Large: http://hotel-restaurant.hotellegrandlarge.com/

Restaurant Au Pied de Cheval: Au Pied de Cheval, Cancale

Restaurant L’Huitrière: L’huitrière, Cancale

Restaurant Crêperie du Port: Crêperie du Port, Cancale