Montreuil-sur-Mer sits atop a hill, encircled by ancient ramparts in a little corner of Pas de Calais, Hauts de France. Its medieval buildings and cobble stone streets have long attracted tourists including Laurence Sterne whilst writing his famous book “A Sentimental Journey”, Napoleon Bonaparte and the town’s favourite – Victor Hugo. The famous French playwright based his book Les Miserables on people he met and sights he saw in the town when visiting in 1837.
These days savvy Brits nip across the Channel to soak up the authentic French ambiance on their doorstep. They’re drawn not just to the town’s good looks but to the Saturday morning market, the terraced bistros, Michelin star restaurants and gourmet food shops. Montreuil-sur-Mer in northern France is making gastronomic waves…
Montreuil-sur-Mer is special when it comes to gastronomy and that gave expat Brit Tim Matthews who runs the gorgeous Maison 76 B&B in the town, the idea to create the label Destination Gastronomique. He and his business partner Michael Bennett joined with the town’s legendary chef, Alexandre Gaulthier who runs the famous La Grenouillère hotel and 2 Michelin Star restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil. The historic little village sits on the edge of Montreuil-sur-Mer and attracts guests from around the world to indulge at the internationally renowned La Grenouillère.
Together they launched the Destination Gastronomique website to showcase excellence in local products and restaurants. The joining criteria is strictly regulated, only the best of the best, and the team have held several food and wine events to great acclaim.
Food and Wine Festival in the medieval town
Place General de Gaulle: Shop at the Saturday morning market on the big main square of the town featuring fabulous local produce. Head to the renowned Boulangerie Gremont for a slice or several of one of their Jean Valjean bread loaves – a nod to Victor Hugo, and utterly delicious.
Cheese shop Caseus has become a tourist destination in it’s own right thanks to the simply awesome cheeses in store.
There are loads of restaurants to stop and enjoy the ambiance and the work of passionate chefs from Michelin-starred to bistro.
Destination Gastronomic; www.lagrenouillere.fr; www.lacavedemontreuil.com
Montreuil-sur-Mer is about 45 minutes from Calais port, less from Eurotunnel. There is a station in the town, but no bus service. See the Tourist Office website for more details: www.tourisme-montreuillois.com