We have just returned from France and, as always, consulted the Michelin Guide Rouge on places to stay - we had the 2014 edition to hand.
There is always a frisson of excitement when one comes across a restaurant with rooms and that has a Michelin star as one suspects that it will be good.
One such place is Le Saison [the restaurant] and Les Patios [the rooms] at Saint Gregoire, just outside the Breton city of Rennes.
We had to drive nearly 600 kms from Clermont-Ferrand to Rennes and were not helped by the fact that we needed to pick up Cantal cheese and some delicious Chateaugay Auvergne wine and so did not really get under way until nearly midday.
However, the French autoroutes were excellent and we arrived at Les Patios at around 5.15 pm.to be met by the chef patron, David Etcheverry, who helped carry our bags to our room No 5.
Whilst the restaurant was built about 10 years ago, the rooms are only two years old and our room certainly had the wow factor in spades.
Very large with a bedroom and sitting area, leading to an open plan bathroom with a large oval freestanding bath, basin and spacious shower cubicle and a separate small room containing a loo.
At the front of the room [all five are on one floor] there was a huge curved window which looked out to a small very private Zen type garden with exotic plants and even a small pond, complete with goldfish and trickling stream - peaceful and serene in the extreme.
There was excellent complimentary wifi access.
So, we were able to relax, check e-mails and enjoy a drink from the minibar.
A corridor links the rooms to the restaurant and we went over for dinner at around 20h00. It was extremely busy with all tables taken in the restaurant and a private party in another room.
Two glasses of Champagne and some sparkling Plancoet Breton mineral water were swiftly brought, whilst we studied the various menu options.
We decided to go for the six course tasting menu [au fil de l'eau], which was superb - Shrimps with green asparagus, Langoustine with apple, krachai and an angelica bouillon, Turbot on pancetta with mimosa cauliflower and a truffle cream, Pyrenean milk lamb with baby squid, baby turnips and tansy, a cheese board and to finish, a chocolate nougatine with black sesame, heather honey, lemon and juniper.
We decided to ask the charming [female] sommelier and who was from the Loire Valley to suggest some wines by the glass and we had two whites - a Cheverny [my wife's favourite] followed by Pouilly Fuisse and then a red Chinon with the Lamb. To finish, a dessert wine....
It was all just 100% perfect.
We slept very well in our very peaceful and comfortable room and had a delicious petit-dejeuner in the morning where we were personally looked after by Christine Etcheverry.
To cap it all, we discovered that the restaurant manager, Arnaud Remingol, had worked with and knew Alain Kerleoch at Arpege in Paris. Alain is now the restaurant manager at OX in Belfast and is a good friend of ours!
Le Saison can be recommended without hesitation as a superb place to stay at and to eat at.
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