Traveling for work, fun or just relaxing, I am not used to write about hotels, restaurants. But I recently has one of the best experience in my lovely Normandy. I wanted to share the story: as you might stay around, this place is definitively worth it and a real gem in this great part of France.
How it started
Away for more than two weeks , my recent trip brought me in France and my lovely Normandy. Visiting the family was in the agenda but I wanted to find a place to rest with my partner in crime. Traveling can be exhausting at some time and having a quiet place to stay, rest is more than appreciated. So, I looked for an affordable and nice place around Evreux. I ended up by looking at an article from Le Figaro about good places to stay around.
After several phone calls, e-mails and trying to book a place, I got a room at La Ferme des Isles. Not too far from Evreux or Louviers, the place is located near to Autheuil-Authouillet. The price was 95 euros per night, including breakfast. When booking, I was told I could also join the dinner. The owners make a dinner at night only if more than 6 persons sign up. As several folks already booked, we could join them.
After a couple of days, I was debating to keep my reservation. I did not know if I was ready to drive there, worried to be too tired to make it and wanted to have a quiet and calm evening rather than joining a big party for dinner. After looking at the list of hotels around, the price they charged and considering the recommendation from the journal, I decided to embrace the idea rather than fighting it. I maintain the reservation and also booked the diner.
After landing in France, staying in Paris for a day and visited friends, we were ready to visit this place. Once we got there, we discovered a lovely and quiet place. Exactly what we needed.
The place is located in Autheuil-Authouillet. You can get there by train from Paris easily, which can be convenient if you stay in Paris and are looking for a quiet place during the week end or if you want to relax for a long time and visit the city. This is a renovated farm in the country side. I have no idea how many rooms they have. I took one for $95 and the room was really big, nice with all the basic stuff. Wireless network is available at no charge as well.
You can walk over the farm, see the animals (goose, chicken, birds, etc.) hang out around the yards, etc. The area is just pretty and relaxing. The garden on the property has all the vegetables and fruits used to prepare the dinner. You cannot do more fresh.
Trying the Pumpkin Soup served from the ... pumpkin
We joined the dinner. But before that, there is an aperitif, a drink you share with other guests. Drinks are either alcoholic (champagne, wine) or non-alcoholic. It comes with snacks, including some made on site. It gives an introduction to the efforts the owners put into the food they cooked: even the potato chips are made in site, with potato from the yard. Tasty, delicious, this is the perfect entry point to a great night.
This is a very friendly event and you share the table with other guests but also the owner of the farm. The menu is designed by Francois, the co-owner of the farm. Francois received an award for the food he prepared and I can testify that the food is fantastic. The menu was 40 euros per person and includes starter, entree, cheese and desert. The food also comes with Red wine and, as in every good french meal, you can refill your glass as you want.
When we had diner, our menu was:
- Pumpkin soup with foie-gras
- Bird with chard gratin and potatoe puree
- Cheese platter
- Baba au rhum (which as more Rhum au Baba)
All ingredients are either from the farm or local. For example, the bird from the entree comes from a local place. The ingredients are just perfectly cooked and the diner is perfect.As for the cheese platter, all the cheese were very tasty.
More important: in France, food quality is important but beyond that, a meal is rather a friendly experience and your meal just a good reason to get together and have a good time. From that perspective, the farm owners (Sophie and Francois) are great hosts and make this not a meal but a real experience.
In this area, there are a lot to do. If you are in the mood to visit places around, go to Giverny and visit Claude Monet gardens. If you want to walk in the forest and explore the area, there are a lot of places to go around. As a runner, I did my traditional workout and was able to run 7 miles on trails in the forest.
If you want to discover cities around, the place is not too far from nice cities in Normandy such as Evreux, Louviers, Vernon or even Rouen. This place is just a nice place to stay, refuel and recharge your batteries before taking off for new adventures.
Bye bye kitty ....
Baby come back
Every good thing comes to an end. This is what makes them so special and interesting: you will do your best to come back. Before leaving, breakfast is proposed in the morning with fresh bread made on site, baguette from a local bread maker, home made jelly, cheese, butter and many other things. The breakfast is served next to the kitchen and, as for the dinner, you share the table with other guests. Again, this was simple, tasty, the environment calm and quiet.
Will I come back to this place? Definitively. If you are staying in France, trying to go there is definitively worth it. Try to go there, visit Sophie and Francois and join their table for dinner. This place is now on my best places to visit in France and I hope you will have the opportunity to discover this gem in Normandy.