Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


Yesterday, with just one more week to go – how I love the phrase! – it was time to make some bookings. The B&B in Vouvray has been booked in February and a deposit has been paid. 

Beside lunches with friends on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, our programme also includes two lunches in restaurants that I definitely want to go to. The first one is the Lion d’Or at the foot of Amboise castle. We’ve never eaten there in the12 years we visited Amboise, simply because the restaurant looked really old and not very inviting. While preparing this year’s trip I checked the website of the Amboise tourist office and found that the place has changed a lot, with a new interior and a very attractive menu. Comments on Tripadvisor and L’internaute give the restaurant a good to excellent rating, although one or two people complained about the service being slow and one dish being under or over cooked. But because accidents can happen or the chef can have an off day, I decided to ignore these bad comments and book a table at the Lion d’Or on the day of our arrival.

2010: Amboise castle.
The restaurant is in the row of house in the left bottom corner, facing the Loire River.

If I am to judge the restaurant by the tone of the phone call I made to book our table, we are in for a good time. The man on the phone sounded very welcoming. When I told him that I was calling from Belgium and would be in Amboise around 1 p.m. next Sunday, after leaving Brussels at 5 in the morning, he immediately answered by saying that he recognized the accent! This is very common ‘practice’ in France. The French like making fun of our accent. In the ‘early’ years this really upset me and I tended to riposte by saying ‘I would like to hear you speaking Flemish!’ That always used to shut them up, but it didn’t really make me popular. Nowadays I simply smile and say ‘I recognize your accent too!’ First they are startled: ‘I have an accent?’ And then they realize that it’s just a joke. ‘Of course, you have. To us, you French have an accent too!’ And we all have a good laugh about it and the ice is broken. 

The man at the Lion D’Or was no different. He just couldn’t stop laughing. When he asked me for a phone number, I deliberately pronounced 77 as ‘septante sept’ (the Belgian way) instead of 'soixante dix sept' (the French way). This resulted in another salvo of laughter on the other end of the phone. Before hanging up, the man wished us a pleasant and safe journey and said that he was looking forward to seeing us on Sunday! Just hope the food will be as good as the man’s sense of humour! 

More about the second booking I made in my next post.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Oh I agree you need to judge a restaurant yourself. People have different tastes and as you say the chef could have had an off day.
Safe trip, Diane

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Shame we are not meeting because you would really laugh at our Australian accent Martine.

Carolyn said...

I'm getting excited for you and your friends. I will be taking notes from here on.

chm said...

I might be mistaken but I think I had lunch at the Lion d’Or [au lit on dort] with Ken and Walt several years ago. There weren’t too many people for lunch but it was good.

I’ll beat you to the Loire by one day. Looking forward to see you again next week. Have a safe trip.

GaynorB said...

Planning can be fun, but not as much fun as the trip itself!

I'm looking forward to meeting you at S&S's lunch party. Fingers crossed for some good weather...

The Broad said...

Have a wonderful trip, Martine! I love your story about accents! As you can imagine, I have my fair share of accent stories as well. But funny thing -- no French person can ever tell it's anything out of the ordinary!

Belgian counting is so much more sensible! ;-)

Louise said...

I am really looking forward to your posts about this trip Martine. And I agree with The Broad...your Belgian counting in "French" is SO sensible! I have been told my accent is "charming"...internationally polite for "quaint" I think!

ladybird said...

Diane, Some people can be very negative. I haven't been kind on a place in Deal where I ate last year, but at least I insisted on the fact that the staff was very friendly and helpful. The food was ghastly though.
Looking forward to meeting you!

L&S, I'm sure it sounds very good. And I bet that the French are in awe about the fact that you speak French! Especially as they can't hide their French accent either when they speak English :)

Carolyn,I don't know whether the notes will be very helpful, because we will be doing what we've doing for the last 12 years ... so nothing new, except perhaps this restaurant in Amboise. You'll get a full report; I promise!

Chm, LOL!!! My friend C. tends to make the same jokes :)) As you'll be there a day in advance, please get out the sun for us. It'll be great seeing you again.

Gaynor, I tend to say that I make the trip 3 times: planning it, living it, and looking at the photos while writing about it. Can't believe we are about to meet!

Kathie, I've never understood why one can't simply say 'septante sep't, etc. But saying it the French way is good excercise for the brain ... it invloves some maths, which I loath! :)) Good luck on the passport issue.

Louise, I like hearing a nice English accent in French. It's so Jean Birkin, isn't it? :) I won't be posting much during the trip, but my 6-day visit should give me sufficient material to 'fill the summer'.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Commenting on other people's accents seems to be a particularly Loire Valley habit, Martine. Oh, and on interview shows out of Paris the hosts often do the same, even though they often have strong Parisian accents themselves. Like you, I've just learned to live with it. And to point out that we all have our particular accents — diversity is a good thing.

ladybird said...

Hi Ken, I've been told that the 'Touraine French' is 'accentless' and therefore the standard. Maybe that's why people in the Loire Valley tend to comment so often when they hear a foreign accent. ;)