Locronan, Brittany by Allison Albrecht
French pancakes come in two different forms, the crêpe which is thin and paired with sweet or savoury fillings, and the galette which is thicker and usually savoury.
Pancakes have been around for millennia, it’s though they were being enjoyed at least as far back as 7000BC in a very similar way to how we like them today.
Creperies are common in France, cafés specialising in the cooking of pancakes but they’re also super easy to make at home.
Ingredients for 6-8 crêpes
125g (3/4 cup) plain flour
pinch of salt
1 medium egg
300ml (10.14 oz) milk
25g (2 tablespoons) melted butter
How to make crepes
1. Mix flour and salt in a basin, make a hollow in the centre and drop in the egg. Stir with a wooden spoon and add the milk gradually, until all the flour is worked in.
2. Beat well and add remaining milk and the melted butter.
3. The consistency should be like single cream.
4. Cooking: For each pancake, heat a small amount of butter in a frying pan. When it begins to smoke, stir the batter and pour approximately 3 tablespoons into the frying pan. When golden brown underneath, turn and cook other side.
5. Serving: Turn out on greaseproof paper, sprinkle with sugar and roll up or fold into quarters. Place on a hot dish and serve immediately with honey, jam, syrup, a squeeze of lemon or orange, fresh fruit, cream or any topping of your choice
Pancakes keep well in the refrigerator and can be frozen.
Made with buckwheat, these pancakes are specialities of northern France and especially Brittany. On their own they’re rather plain but they pair perfectly with ham, eggs, cheese, vegetables, salad, sausages and all sorts!
Ingredients For 4 pancakes
200g buckwheat flour
1 egg beaten
30g melted butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil
How to make galettes
1. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt.
2. Add the water, milk and melted butter (or oil), beaten egg and whisk until you have a smooth creamy mix.
3. Leave to rest for a couple of hours (overnight in the fridge is best).
4. Put a lightly buttered/oiled non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and pour in some of the pancake mix. Gently cook for 2-3 minutes then flip the pancake over (or use a spatula although it’s not as much fun).
Fill with filling of your choice – bacon and eggs, cheese and ham, mushrooms, onions, whatever you like.
Serves 2 hungry people
1kg fresh mussels
3 large spring onions
1 large shallot, peeled and halved
1 carrot, peeled and halved lengthways
2 large garlic cloves peeled
1 small bunch of thyme (thin stalks not thick stalks)
Handful flat leaf parsley leaves
100ml olive oil
150ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
Tip the mussels into a large bowl of cold water. Discard any that remain open when tapped. Drain and remove any beards. Fresh mussels are black and shiny and should smell pleasantly of the deep sea and the majority should be tightly closed. Chuck out any that smell fishy, look dry or are already open.
Thinly slice the vegetables and garlic.
Place a large, heavy-based lidded pan with a lid, on a high heat. Pour in the oil and add the vegetables and thyme. The thyme sprigs will crackle if the pan is hot enough. Cook for about 2 minutes stirring the vegetables.
With the heat still on high, add the mussels and shake the pan so they form an even layer. Cover with a lid and cook for another 2 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.
Pour in the wine, shake and cook for another 1½ minutes so the wine reduces by half, then cover again and cook for another minute. Place a large colander over a bowl and tip the mussels and vegetables into the centre. Chuck out any mussels that remain closed.
Return the strained liquid to the pan, reheat and stir in the creme fraiche and parsley leaves. Return the mussels and vegetables to the pan to reheat.
Serve with chips, and a hunk of bread…
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Mont Saint-Michel is a French icon. An island of medieval buildings topped by a gravity-defying abbey, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in France. It’s also legendary for a restaurant called Mère Poulard where they’ve been cooking omelettes over an open fire to the same recipe since 1887. They’re memorable, moreish and mouth-wateringly good.
If you’d like to make one at home, we can’t share the exact recipe, it’s a secret the restaurant keeps to itself but here’s our take on Mere Poulard’s famous omelette…
Ingredients for one large omelette
12 cl of crème fraiche
Salt and pepper
40 g of butter
Optional: Mushrooms, cheese and lardons
Whip the eggs on low speed for 5 minutes then add the crème fraiche and for another 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan and pour egg mixture into the hot pan. If you want to add cheese, sprinkle it on top as the omelette is cooking.
Cook slowly for about 5 minutes, the surface should be slightly liquid still – then fold in half. If you're adding fried mushrooms and lardons, add them before you fold.
Serve immediately while it’s still hot, with a green salad and/or fried potatoes.
If you love French food – check out our delicious recipe for cheese gougères!
The Loire Valley is made up of orchards, vineyards and farmlands, châteaux and picturesque villages. In spring the fruit trees burst into colour and so do the chateaux gardens. Intoxicating detours are plentiful in this region but these are a few of our favourites…
Saumur is a tranquil sort of town with a friendly ambience. It’s a great place for those who love culture, history, beautiful architecture, wine and great French cuisine. And, let’s face it, it doesn’t get much more tempting than that does it?! Saumur is a flowery town and a great place for wandering. You’ll discover the remains of the ancient walls of the city, and plenty of cafés and places to while away the hours while you enjoy the local wine and produce. Try the friendly Bistrot de Place where the tables spill out onto the pedestrianised square on a sunny day. And then admire the view of the fairy tale looking 12th century castle on a hill overlooking the Loire river.
Lively, buzzing and festive, this remarkably compact city is one of the greenest in France. The massive Chateau d’Angers, a Plantaganet stronghold, is home to a unique masterpiece: the 14th century Tapestry of the Apocalypse. Just as extraordinary, the modern version, Le Chant du Monde, a series of ten tapestries by Jean Lurcat is housed at the Gothic Hôpital Saint-Jean close by. Wine lovers will enjoy the smallest vineyard in Angers, within the castle walls.
The city makes for a great base for touring the Loire. Place Plumereau is perfect for an aperitif, in fact it was once voted, the square most loved by the French for just that reason! Lined with half-timbered buildings of the 15th century with plenty of lively bars, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. There are several cultural venues in the town including the fabulous Centre of Contemporary Art Olivier Debré.
The chateau of Chenonceau is one of the most visited castles in France – we’re not surprised, it’s gorgeous. Turrets and towers, and rooms filled with flowers at the chateau which is as famous for its gardens as its beautiful rooms, once the home of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, and later the home of his wife, Catherine de Medici. The castle’s master florist is Jean-François Bouchet, a Master Craftsman of France for his floral skills. With a small team, he creates 200 bouquets a week to fills the rooms, hallways and the lovely onsite restaurant.
The Chateau de Chambord is a French Renaissance masterpiece. This jewel of the Loire Valley was begun in 1519, the year Francis 1 became King of France. The flamboyant king loved to put on a show and at Chambord, his imagination ran wild. This grand castle in true Renaissance style was designed to shout to the world that this was the home of the greatest King that ever lived. It’s also famous for its double helix staircase, said to have been inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.
A magnificent royal fortress, in which Richard the Lionheart was born, sits majestically watching over its domain, located high on the banks of the river Loire, right in the centre of the city. In the old town medieval houses line winding cobble stone streets, rue Voltaire is particularly beautiful. Place General de Gaulle is great for restaurants and it’s close to the elevator that takes you up to the chateau, saving you a climb.
Discover more great things to do in the Loire Valley: www.loirevalley-france.co.uk
French Connections loves to help you make your holiday dreams come true – check out our listings of holiday homes in the Loire Valley…
While we’re all staying at home to beat the virus, we thought you might like to make some classic French dishes for a taste of France. First up, the perfect snack or starter, cheesy gougères are easy to make and very moreish. Like little cheesy balloons, they’re crisp on the outside and deliciously fluffy on the inside.
Recipe for 36 gougères
25g unsalted butter
1 Teaspoon sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
4-5 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
120g coarsely grated Gruyère
25g coarsely grated Parmesan
How to make perfect gougères
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Place the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. The mixture will form a thick mass. Keep stirring for another two minutes to dry the mixture out. Remove from heat.
Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until each egg is incorporated. By the fourth egg, the mixture should have a smooth, glossy consistency. If not, stir in a fifth egg. Add ¾ of the grated Gruyère.
Drop heaped spoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart onto lined baking sheets. Combine remaining Gruyère and Parmesan; sprinkle over tops of dough.
Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375°F, and continue baking until evenly golden, about another 15 minutes.
Best eaten warm!
Celebrating its 800th year in 2020, the great Gothic Cathedral of Amiens is awe-inspiring. By day the Cathedral attracts pilgrims and tourists eager to see its vast interior, filled with statues and frescoes, soaring vaulted ceiling and to feel its majestic presence, witness to eight centuries of history. At night though, it’s an altogether different place as the exterior of the cathedral is smothered in a technicolour light performance in a show that makes audiences gasp in wonder. This free 50 minute show runs throughout the summer, as well as in December during the Christmas market. It’s an absolute must-see.
A classified “plus beaux village de France”, officially one of the prettiest villages, Gerberoy has oodles of charm. Think cobbled streets, half-timbered buildings dripping with roses and wonderful views over the lush countryside. Gerberoy, one of the smallest towns in France is on the border of Seine-Maritime, Normandy.
The Hortillonnages of Amiens are floating market gardens. They’ve been cultivated since the Middle Ages on a maze of canals, on the edge of the city. The best way to experience this historic heritage site is with a guided electric (environmentally friendly) boat tour (from April to October). It’s incredible to see the city’s Cathedral spire in the background while you spot dragon flies, wild birds and even herons on the tranquil waterways. The lush, flower filled island gardens reflect a close relationship between man and nature and make for a unique nature escape right in the heart of the metropolis. From spring to autumn a fabulous Arts and Garden festival is held in the Hortillonages. Details: www.hortillonnages-amiens.fr/
From the Middle Ages to the 19th century, the castle has preserved its exceptional and imposing setting. Visit the various galleries of paintings (the second greatest collection of antique paintings after the Louvre) and stroll through the romantic gardens, especially the one designed by André Le Nôtre, as well as the great stables of the 18th century and the horse museum. Details: www.domainedechantilly.com/fr/
Yes you did read that right. If you thought Champagne only comes from Champagne – think again. It might surprise you to learn that the vineyards of Château-Thierry in the Aisne department of Picardy, Hauts-de-France account for a whopping 10% of AOC Champagne production. The perfect visit for fans of fizz!
There’s heaps more to do in Picardy including Asterix Parc, a theme park inspired by comic book characters Asterix and Obelisk; the medieval chateau of Pierrefonds; fabulous Marquenterre bird & wildlife park and the pretty port town of St Valery-sur-Somme.
Browse our selection of holiday homes in Picardie – we love to help you make your holidays dreams come true…