Rouen, France

“It was a beautiful summer morning. Silver gleamed in the windows of the gold and silver smith, and the light that fell obliquely on the cathedral shimmered in the cracks of the grey stones. A flock of birds circled in the blue sky around the trefoils pinnacle turrets.”

18518201_1206572989471685_3738649183831168360_o.jpg

“The square, echoing with cries, smelled of the flowers that bordered its pavements.”

18556550_1206934069435577_5736645369964733050_o

“The nave was mirrored in the brimming holy-water basins, along with the lower parts of the ogives and some portions of the stained glass. But the reflections of the images breaking at the marble rims, continued beyond, over the flagstones, like a gaudy carpet. The broad daylight of the outdoors extended into the church in three enormous beams through the three open portals.”

18556816_1206890416106609_8044747244825968888_o.jpg

“The crystal chandeliers hung motionless. In the choir, a silver lamp was burning; and the the side chapels, from the darker parts of the church, there sometimes issued a sort of effluence of sighs, along with the sound of a grille closing, sending its echo up under the lofty vaults.”

18527390_1206892266106424_6625540845446376617_o.jpg

“Yet still she did not come. He took a seat and his eyes happened upon a blue window that shows boatmen carrying baskets……”

18518319_1206882006107450_5463314676495333685_o.jpg

This was a scene from Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, where León met with Emma – before their four-hour carriage ride that turned out to be one of the most erotic scenes in the 19th century literature.

18588814_1206893686106282_3181889891578211811_o.jpg

The famous cathedral is Notre-Dame de Rouen. Its gothic façade was the subject of nearly thirty Claude Monet’s paintings.

 

We did not spend more than 24 hours in Rouen.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in early spring. With certain gaiety in the air, everybody in Rouen was out and about.

18595180_1206881436107507_6999344441838720581_o
Le Gros Horloge

we happened upon this woman with her Bernese Mountain dog

17155292_1139003709561947_3431124369591556015_n.jpg

She, dressed fashionably with her three-inch heels; He/she, made every effort to drag her into each store along the way.

It was well past the lunch hour. We snacked on ice creams, saving our appetite 

17201176_1138727392922912_6152687077140737862_n
Delicious pistachio and mint chocolate ice cream at L’ardoise

for a grand dinner at Gill – a Michelin two-star restaurant helmed by chef Gill Tournadre.

18518342_1206887479440236_7957229186884244827_o.jpg

Our reservation was at 7:30. Punctually, we were the first to arrive. The exterior of the restaurant was nondescript, but the ambiance inside was warm and welcoming.

18623302_1206933659435618_621283006043429824_o.jpg
Amuse Bouche – Foie Gras and Cod

We ordered the seven-course tasting menu. The Gougère with truffle was delectable.

18556774_1206931106102540_7787929073521974172_o.jpg
Gougère with truffle

The salmon tartar was creamy and flavorful.

18620977_1206932056102445_1672760505791915513_o.jpg
Salmon tartar topped with curry chip

I didn’t care much about the black truffle, but the amazing foie gras and its sauce made up for it.

18558929_1206902719438712_2498012166649410875_o.jpg
Foie gras topped with truffle

Chef Tournadre is fascinated about Japan, where he travels every year. The use of shiso in the lobster taco pays homage to his beloved foreign country.

18595261_1206905556105095_4044653630522813094_o.jpg
Lobster taco with shiso puré

One thing I love about Gill was that the cooking did not muddle the true taste of an ingredient, instead, it seek to highlight it. Take John Dory in Thai flavored broth for instance, the coconut lemongrass flavored broth helped to bring out the sweetness of the fish, making it more pronounced – the freshness of the sea.

18556794_1206909576104693_1079609225456497203_o.jpg
John Dory in Thai flavored broth

We were almost full by the time the veal file mignon arrived. We thought we would savor a few pieces, just to get a taste. But one morsel after another, it was gone before we knew it.

18595556_1206931756102475_1833081768449241056_o
Veal file mignon

Next came the Cheese Cart

18556607_1206932366102414_4976139006857168603_o
Cheese Cart

Having traveled through the Normandy region in the past week – sampling local specialty cheese, this was not something we wanted to miss.

18556910_1206932596102391_1314312924328390842_o.jpg
Mont d’Or (Jura)

With the help of our cute and friendly curator, we picked

18589147_1206900806105570_3413485983728045653_o

Brin d’amour (Corsica), Graval (Normandy), Tomme (Montferra) and Mothais sur feuille Goat Cheese. It was the perfect combination!

18556573_1206930829435901_4215635391178101488_o.jpg

Moving on to desserts. My friend loved her pineapple coconut mousse. It reminded her of the sunny breezy Hawaiian Islands.

18527240_1206931096102541_755635027575259659_o.jpg
Pineapple Coconut

The mignadise was a no-frill medley of almond, pistachio, hazelnut and rhubarb.

18671611_1206901189438865_2849414342887975305_o.jpg
Mignadises

But the Millefeuille a la minute was made to perfection! Layers and layers of paper thin pastry sheets melt in your mouth, leaving you with the tang of bourbon vanilla that lingered on…

18527439_1206905042771813_4854452270903627706_o.jpg
Millefeuille a la minute with bourbon Vanila

till the next course

18527327_1206931079435876_8011918714369684295_o
Fresh Fruits in wafer wrap grapefruit

Both citrus-y and refreshing, it was the perfect way to end a meal.

18558875_1206931389435845_7955865256556893365_o

Wait, there’s more!

 

All in all, this was one of the loveliest dining experiences we’ve had in France. We appreciated the unpretentiousness of this Michelin two-star restaurant: the ambiance, the food, and the professionalism of its staff. We would go back for sure.

So this is Rouen – Gustav Flaubert’s birthplace, where the writer spent most of his life; where Joan of Arc was burned at a stake; where the fictional Madame Bovary gave in to the charming León thus began her downfall; And it was also here, in Restaurant La Couronne next to the old market, where Julia Child discovered “the most exciting meal of her life”.

Coming up next in the Travel section: Back to Paris.

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “Rouen, France

  1. Did I miss the price of the 7-course tasting menu or you don’t mention it? On purpose? I’m just curious how it compares to the 250 Eur 3-star Paris experience. I’d love to eat in places like this one day, but really don’t see it happening soon.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s