The finest local cuisine
Charente brings to mind the ocean, charming towns and villages, unspoilt nature and a cuisine honoured by its restaurants’ Michelin stars. Here’s a short tour of the galaxy of Charente and Charente-Maritime’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
L’Hysope and chef Nicolas Durif
In La Jarrie, not far from La Rochelle, recent star chef Nicolas Durif welcomes you to his restaurant, L’Hysope. Originally from Alsace, Nicolas Durif inherited his passion from his grandmother. A resident of Charente-Maritime for around twenty years, he received his first star just two and a half years after opening his restaurant. He loves to combine the exceptional products he finds on his travels with products from Charente’s own terroir, like his unmissable bull fillet, paired uniquely with salty sea flavours.
La Maison Coutanceau
“Fisherman chef” and La Rochelle native Christopher Coutanceau is the only Charente-based chef with two Michelin stars. Raised in La Rochelle, he inherited his passion for the sea from his grandfather, while his love of cooking came from his grandmother, Guiguitte. Unsurprisingly, he draws his inspiration from the ocean and can be found each morning at the La Rochelle market auction, selecting the best produce the sea has to offer. Overlooking Concurrence beach in La Rochelle, his restaurant offers panoramic views of the ocean and an architectural and gastronomical experience that will take you to the heart of the marine world. And if you still want more, head to the Classe des Gourmets at the old harbour for culinary, patisserie or sommelier’s classes.
La Ribaudière and chef Thierry Verrat
Another record is held by one of Charente’s Michelin-starred restaurants: Thierry Verrat, chef atLa Ribaudière in Bourg-Charente, has received a Michelin star for 22 consecutive years! For the 23 years he has spent at the helm of his restaurant, which is located in the midst of a cognac vineyard, the chef has worked in close partnership with local producers and is continuously putting a new spin on their exceptional products. You’ll be tempted by the steamed and roasted crispy-skinned Barbezieux chick with stuffed eggs, or the barrel-smoked Gensac-la-Pallue brown trout. And if you want to share Thierry Verrat’s passion and expertise, book one of his culinary classes!
L’Aquarelle and chef Xavier Taffart
Head to Breuillet, near Royan, to discover another of Charente-Maritime’s Michelin-starred restaurants, L’Aquarelle. After many years of globe-trotting, Xavier Taffart could no longer resist the call of his homeland; this oyster farmer’s son opened his restaurant in Breuillet, just a few miles from his home village, and received his first Michelin star in 2010. Against a backdrop of contemporary decor, this chef offers modern and inventive cuisine directly inspired by his roots. And if you fancy sharing the art of cooking with Xavier Taffart, sign up quick for his next cooking class!
Le Château de Mirambeau and chef Maxime Deschamps
Just a few miles from the Gironde estuary, between the Cognac and Bordeaux vineyards, Le Château de Mirambeau is a special place. This Renaissance château, nestled in eight hectares of parkland, is a true haven, offering a five-star hotel, a spa and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Chef Maxime Deschamps creates flavourful cuisine that takes its inspiration from the surrounding lands between the vineyard and ocean. “Fillet of sole cooked at 64°” and “half a Poitou pigeon with an organic cornflake and pistachio crust” are just a couple of examples of his sophisticated, authentic French cuisine that you can enjoy on the covered terrace with a view over the château grounds.
Le Domaine des Étangs and chef Loïc Lecoin
Le Domaine des Etangs in Massignac is France’s biggest five-star resort. This exceptional site stretches over more than 1,000 hectares of unspoilt nature in Charente-Maritime and comprises a totally renovated 11th-century château, six farm buildings, a spa and a magnificent farmhouse that’s home to Dyades, its Michelin-starred restaurant. New chef Loïc Lecoin shines a spotlight on products from the area and from the estate itself, which has its own kitchen garden and is traversed by a river full of crayfish.