Giverny was particularly spectacular the day we toured Monet’s gardens and there was so much background information our docent Marie Dessaillen from Context Travel Paris shared with us that we collectively (six people) missed our bus back to the train station. The next train wasn’t for another two hours so the logical thing to do was to find a place to eat. Of course we all felt guilty that Marie was going to be late getting back to Paris so we invited her to have lunch. When considering where to eat in Giverny, Marie cautioned us against choosing a spot for how it looks. As with most small touristy towns, the beautiful decor may lure you in, but the food may not be up to par. Her choice? Giverny’s lovely L’Esquisse Gourmande.
Marie walked us down the mostly pedestrian streets of Giverny to a restaurant called L’Esquisse Gourmande that had an outdoor terrace, rustic but charming and inviting. The building was next door to the farmers building where fresh free range hens’ eggs were sold. Inside was light and bright but it was an unusually warm day in Giverny and we wanted to take advantage of the nice weather so we opted to sit outside on the terrace under the shade of some umbrellas. Next to our table was a pen of sorts and Marie explained that perhaps rabbits were kept there and cooked fresh – farm to table food – literally!
We dined simply, but elegantly – very French! I began my meal with an appetizer of baked brie with apples and local berry jam served over onions and it came on a piece of slate with crusty bread on the side. Next was the chef’s salad special of the day which was a bed of greens with local mushrooms, onions, Normandy compote cheese and a carrot garnish. A dill dressing with a bit of a kick in it added to the delicious flavors as did the berry sauce decorating the plate. The particular area we were in grows apples and the locals make a wonderful sparkling cider which is served cool and made for a refreshing sweet drink, more like a dessert.
Everyone enjoyed their en plein air lunch and thought it was the best thing ever that we missed the bus. It gave us two more hours learning about Monet and Giverny from Marie and we had a spectacular lunch to boot. Some times travel mishaps turn into travel treasures!
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