Le Central: see below
Le Central: see below

The Charente-Poitou departments are rarely spoken of in terms of world-class gastronomy. However, we are talking about France here!

These restaurants can't be described as local, but most of them can be found en route to La Bréchoire or in towns that 'merit a visit'. Here are some of our favourites. Since the fall of the pound against the euro, outright bargains are harder to find. But the quality can be amazing for the price.

L'Auberge des Glycines You will find L'Auberge des Glycines in a quiet spot by the river in Taillebourg. Small choice of set 3-course lunch, imaginatively cooked from local produce. Garden courtyard and small terrace overlooking the Charente. Worth a day trip (near Château La Roche Courbon). Closed: Sat lunch
L'Auberge des Glycines: 4 Quai des Gabarriers, 17130 Taillebourg T: 05 46 91 81 40
La Cagouillarde Segonzac, in the heart of the Grande Champagne, has the highly-recommended La Cagouillarde. Short Menu du Terroir at 18€50. Free-range duck, snails, ham, white beans, eels etc. Excellent quality traditional recipes and a selection of very good Charentais wines. Near the Frapin distillery, with other top cognac producers nearby. Closed: Sun eve and Mon
La Cagouillarde: Rue Gaston Briand, 16130 Segonzac T: 05 45 83 40 51
Le Coq d'Or A favouite standby in Cognac, Le Coq d'Or is a large brasserie (open all day) that serves the usual selection of charcuterie, meat dishes, seafood and mountainous plates of choucroute. Bang in the centre of town. Open every day
Le Coq d'Or: Place François I, 16000 Cognac T: 05 45 82 02 56 Website
Les Jacobins Imagine that you've been driving from Saint-Malo on the morning ferry, and after four hours you want to stop and have something to eat. Go into Saint-Jean d'Angély and you will find this place in the town centre in a lovely old building with a small courtyard. Les Jacobins offers pizzas, salads and grills from about 8€. Open everyday: lunch hours 12.00-14.00
Les Jacobins: 26, Rue des Jacobins, 17413 Saint-Jean d'Angély T: 05 46 32 54 89
Le Pinocchio A smaller and closer version of Saint-Jean is Matha, which I have started to take a liking to. Not, as you might imagine, entirely dedicated to the pizza, Le Pinocchio is popular and good value. Outdoor seating off the street. Closed: eve and Mon
Le Pinocchio: 7, Rue Salle des Fêtes, 17160 Matha T: 05 46 58 50 31
Le Cheval Blanc Finally got round to writing about the Cheval Blanc. At the risk of repeating myself, incredible value at 13€50 for a 5(!) course lunch (not Sundays). Good cooking, very nice ambience and popular with the English. Luxé, back street on road from Aigre to Mansle. Closed: Sun eve and Mon; all of Feb
L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc: 16230 Luxé T: 05 45 22 23 62
Le Taillefer If you have what used to be called a 'healthy' appetite, there is amazing value to be had at Le Taillefer in the attractive village of Montignac-Charente. A 5-course lunch with wine will set you back a derisory 10-15€.
Le Taillefer: Place du Docteur-Feuillet, 16330 Montignac-Charente T: 05 45 39 70 39
De la Tour A short drive to a small village, just down the Vienne from Confolens, brings you to De la Tour on the bridge at Saint-Germain. This was a real find. Very high standard of cooking for not a lot of money. Good game specialities. Closed: Mon (except in Jul and Aug)
Auberge de la Tour: 16500 Saint-Germain-de-Confolens T: 05 45 84 15 27
Les Ombrages An institution in La Rochelle, with a view of the towers of the Old Port. André serves consistently excellent seafood, with good service. Cavernous interior of many rooms..
Le Bar André: 5 Rue Saint-Jean-du-Perot, 17000 La Rochelle T: 05 46 41 28 24
L'Océan With a view of the open sea, L'Océan is right on the tip of the Fouras peninsula. Obviously a great choice for fish, lobster, plateau de fruits de mer etc. Try the excellent chaudrée (garlicky fish stew). There are a couple of alternatives, such as Les Viviers de la Fumée, by the harbour - from where you get the "Pierre Loti" ferry to the Ile d'Aix.
L'Océan: Pointe de la Fumée, 17450 Fouras T: 05 46 84 55 06
Les Paillottes Probably the best restaurant on the Ile d'Aix, Les Paillotes seems the ideal place to be ripped off, but I wasn't (as far as I could tell). Try the local Chardonnay for a change and an Ile d'Aix flottante for dessert. Closed: winter months
Les Paillotes: Bois-Joly, 17023 Ile D'Aix T: 05 46 84 66 34
Ferme Auberge Marine on Ile Madame What a beautiful place on a sunny day. You can drive or walk over the causeway from Port des Barques to Ile Madame at low tide. Better to walk or cycle. Keep an eye on the time or you can be stranded! Ferme Auberge Marine specialises in produce grown on the islet: salt-marsh lamb, oysters, clams and line-caught bass. Menus 13€-31 and friendly service. Book ahead.
Ferme Auberge Marine: 17023 Ile Madame T: 05 46 84 12 67
La Chaloupe And if the tides are unfavourable, here is a terra firma option at Port des Barques, facing the infamous Ford Boyard. Visited La Chaloupe on New Year's Eve lunchtime - not, you would think, a very clever thing to do, but we had an excellent fish-based meal.
La Chaloupe: 6, Rue Claude Bernard, 17023 Port des Barques T: 05 46 83 00 10
Le Bistrot Galant We found Le Bistrot Galant in the Green Michelin guide. In the old quarter of Saintes across the river from the Roman arch, this is a small upmarket establishment with really good cooking at a low price. Closed: Sun and Mon
Le Bistrot Galant: 28, Rue Saint-Michel, 17100 Saintes T: 05 46 93 08 51
Le Central

Les Basses Amarres in Mornac-sur-Seudre, fixed menu at 18-31€ (3 courses, 2 choices per course). In one of those 'plus beaux villages' that imply streets full of knick-knack shops. You can have any amount of huitres/moules/frites elsewhere, but this is fine dining and great service with a lovely view from the rear terrace. Closed: not known
Les Basses Amarees: 5, Rue des Basses Amarres, 17113 Mornac-sur-Seudre T: 05 46 22 63 31

Le Central Le Central is my favourite restaurant in Coulon, capital of the Marais Poitevin (Venise verte). A great lunch option, especially if you are coming from Saint-Malo on the overnight ferry. Very good value, generous set meals. In the town, not on the waterside. Closed: not known
Le Central: 4, Rue l'Autremont, 79150 Coulon T: 05 49 35 90 20

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