On a recent drive through the French countryside we over nighted at Colombey-Les-Deux-Églises, the spiritual home and resting place of General Charles de Gaulle. Although he was born in Lille, northern France, he chose this village of a mere 400 inhabitants as his home, as he felt it epitomised La France. It is indeed a very pretty village, sandstone cottages and manor houses, tea rooms, cafes, small hotels and a Michelin starred restaurant , and all because of de Gaulle.
Long before you reach the village, you see it, as you drive across the fields of rural France. In Colombey ,there is a hill and perched on top of the hill is an enormous Cross, it is the cross of Lorraine, which he made his own and it can be seen for miles .This cross is 44 metres high and was erected to commemorate the landing of De Gaulle in Normandy in June 1944 and became a symbol of the free French . There is an excellent museum as well as his former home La Boiserie, which is also open to the public.
But why were we there? Not necessarily to pay homage to this former general and politician who had a reputation of being cantankerous , but to try a Michelin restaurant ,which was about half way between the French Alps and the Tunnel de la Manche.
We stayed in one of the small hotels, which at €60 was a steal. We wandered up to take a look at the cross and went to the churchyard where De Gaulle’s grave is fairly unremarkable, given his place in French history. Then onto dinner at restaurant Natali.
Restaurant Natali can be found in the Hostellerie La Montagne, a beautiful stone Manor House, set in equally beautiful grounds. There are only 8 rooms at this small hotel, hence the reason we were obliged to stay elsewhere. Many restaurants in France take their summer vacations during the month of August, which always spikes me as rather odd, travellers are on the road and many would like to eat in fine restaurants along the way. But the French take holidays in August and so do many of the restauranteurs.
There are several options for dining here, a la carte or the choice of three different fixed price menus, one at €55, one at €66 and the menu decouverte at € 88.
We chose the menu decouverte and the courses were as follows:-
- Gazpacho with vegetables and tuna
- Warm consommé with macedone of vegetables and a courgette flower stuffed with fois gras and summer truffles
- Tuna with ham and a sorrel ice cream, with coriander and pink pepper corns, and more summer truffles
- Hake served on top of a stone, with a mild curry sauce and a vodka orange drink on the side
- Another fish dish ( not sure what fish though) a very smooth mash, girolles, asparagus slivers and summer truffles
- Duck breast, topped with nougate artichokes and girolles
- A Relatively small cheese board
- Chocolate mousse with a Mirabeau sorbet
- Ice cream biscuit meringue, strawberries
Although all of the dishes looked very beautiful, they lacked taste and the adding of the nougat to the duck was a step too far, but the aagian the French love nougat!
Better luck next year is all I can say !