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La Marlow. La Grand Plage,St Gilles Croix de Vie
This is simply my favourite resort on the Vendéen coast, the town being an amalgam of two smaller towns on either side of the river Vie, Saint-Giles-Sur-Vie and Croix-de-Vie. On arrival we had coffee in a café on the South side of the Vie, it was very nice but as usual in places like this it wasn’t cheap, costing over 5 euros for the pleasure. A tip for those who are looking to economise is don’t drink coffee, beer or even soft drinks in bars and cafés as they are all invariably expensive. It is worth taking a cold bag or a flask, that way you save the cost and you can stop and have your beverage wherever you want. You may not get the same ambience but you will save yourself enough to put towards another day out.
Having finished coffee we embarked on the walk that Trevor had wanted to make following the South side of the river then out to the river mouth and along the breakwater to the lighthouse at the far end. The walk out to the end of the breakwater was long but it did afford a spectacular view back to the main beach which stretches South in front of the dunes and then on past the promenade.
We came back along the breakwater and over the dunes to the esplanade where we planned to have lunch. This promenade has changing facilities, toilets (including disabled toilets), cafés, crêperies, bars and restaurants. Behind all of this are the hotels and apartments and behind them the town runs back to the river. All along the promenade the restaurants had dining rooms on one side and tables under sun shades on the other. We looked at all of the restaurants, most offered a formula for lunch which is a limited choice menu at a reduced price. We chose Le Marlow, which seemed to have a predominately local clientele and a menu that suited our needs. My scooter wouldn’t fit in the small space under the sun shades and I couldn’t get into the dining room. The waitress, who wouldn’t win any beauty contests but was nonetheless delightful, moved a table from under the sunshades to the dining room side of the promenade, even though she was incredibly busy, so that I could sit at it on my scooter. We were just in the shade when we started our lunch which was just as well as the sun was beating down relentlessly. Trevor had his customary alcohol free beer and I had, don’t laugh, a Coke. Trevor started with mussels, so I had a gizzard salad, in an attempt to have something different to enable a broader review of the restaurant. Trevor’s mussels were good, he had plenty and they were perfectly cooked, the liquor was good he used his bread to mop it up with a smile on his face.
My gizzard salad was very good, obviously one can’t expect to have the same quantity in this type of restaurant that one might get inland, but nonetheless it was perfectly satisfactory. We both followed with entrecote steaks, I had mine with a pepper sauce and Trevor had the Roquefort sauce both were served with frites and a little salad. The entrecotes were a decent size and were both cooked perfectly Trevor said that his Roquefort sauce was good my pepper sauce tasted good enough but it was a little bit glutinous and understandably had probably been cooked quite a while before it reached my plate. We both ended with Ile Flottante, which were served in small glass ramekins and were totally unlike the Ile Flottante that your French grand-mère would have served. Now perhaps my expectations are too high, but Ile Flottante means floating island and for me it should be quenelles of egg white meringues floating on a sea of Crème Anglais with a hint of caramel. It was difficult to see how this could in any way be described as floating anything, unless there was something suspended in the semi solid custard. Don’t get me wrong, the taste itself was perfectly acceptable; I just couldn’t see how it could be called Ile Flottante.
The overall cost was 29 euros and considering that we were eating on the seafront, I guess it was reasonable value for money. The service was good and the view overlooking the beach and the sea was glorious, but I just can’t help remembering the meal we had just across the river at La Fauvette last year. There’s no doubt that the view at Le Marlow is better, but I know which one I would choose - Tate - June 2009
About the author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about good wine and good food,he writes exclusively for the www.vendee-guide.co.uk
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