Sunday, 16 December 2012

Encore France: Day 13, Amiens

From the journal: 
Started the day with a can of iced tea (yes, I know – how sad!) in lieu of anything else, but looked forward to a nice cooked breakfast and some great coffee somewhere in town. So, after a quick shower we rugged up like Eskimaux and took to the streets in search of an inviting eatery. Huh, what a fruitless search! It was 9.30 of a Sunday morning and we could not find a single place open. Amazing. Not even McDonald’s opened before 10.00 am, which we found really stunning, not that we would have gone there but it wasn’t an option anyway. We kept wandering and wandering around the streets, only to discover that lots of places – read “lots” as “most” – weren’t even open by 10.30. 
Amiens town centre has some lovely buildings
Eventually we spotted a little café which was open - it was a tea house, actually, and quite a charming place – and so we eagerly entered and there enjoyed the most superb Croque Monsieur and fantastic coffee. And we weren’t alone: there were two English families who had similarly been walking around for ages in search of somewhere to take breakfast, plus a middle-aged German couple. 
Some great streets to wander down.
The Germans, professional people from Berlin, sat at the next table along and started chatting to us, firstly simply expressing how unbelievable they found it that this was the first place they had found to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. They then stunned us as they talked of their amazement over the damage inflicted on France in two wars, and actually said that they had always only thought about German towns being destroyed and that they had no idea other places, other countries, had suffered so much. We were staggered. I mean, where had these people been hiding for the last half a century to be so ignorant of the devastation of two world wars? Then they were quite insulting by saying that while on their tour they had noticed quite a few memorials to Australians who fought in World War One and they asked us what business either wars had been of ours anyway. Wow! 
Not a lot of people around, that's for sure.
After breakfast we strolled down to Notre Dame d’Amiens Cathedral to have another look. What a perfect time it was to do so as there was a mass being held in the beautiful central chapel area and when we entered the organ was playing and a choir was singing. It was indeed heavenly. We sat there enthralled for 15 or 20 minutes until the service ended. It was such a beautiful interlude. 
The magnificent Notre Dame d'Amiens -
impossible to capture with our little camera.
Leaving the church, we went for quite a long walk around town to build up our appetite for a yummy lunch somewhere in St Leu, perhaps at one of the two restaurants which Bertrand had recommended to us – Tante Jéanne’s or Belu. 
And fabulous, fabulous St Leu style
As it happened, Belu was closed and Tante Jéanne’s menu simply didn’t appeal. The man really felt like that most French of dishes – steak frittes – and I just wanted anything hot and yummy. After following the local habit of slowly cruising backwards and forwards along the canal-side checking out the displayed menus for all the wonderful restaurants at least twice, we decided to opt for lunch at Le Quay Restaurant, probably the most expensive one on the St Leu strip. 
What a fantastic area St Leu is.
What can I say? What an experience. Sometimes a restaurant and a meal are truly memorable. This was one such restaurant and one such meal.  
Incredibly beautiful.
We decided to sit outside, even though the day was freezing, and so the young, and totally charming, waiter - who we were to learn had recently spent two months in Australia - brought over an outdoor heater and positioned it near our table so that we were soon comfortable. For our Kir Royale he actually uncorked a bottle of Moet et Chandon, which he opened at the table so that we could see it was the real deal. We may have intended to have a simple meal, but as soon as we sat down we knew it would be special and it was. Kir Royale made with Moet, an amuse bouche of fresh scallops with tarragon, meat so tender you could have cut it with a spoon, and crème caramel that deserved a medal, all washed down with a pichet of light and lovely red, and finished with a delicious espresso. We agreed that we could never ever return to Amiens without returning to Le Quay Restaurant 
Just open your mouth and say Ahhhh. Lovely St Leu.
Fully sated and having stored away for ourselves a lovely memory, we then walked along the riverside and through the parklands, pausing to watch a soccer game in progress. Despite the day not starting as we had expected, it had turned out to be a wonderful one and we happily wandered around Amiens for a few hours before returning to the hotel in the evening, with some simple fare and the usual bottle of vino for our evening repast.
Tomorrow we train it back to our beautiful Paris. See you then. 


  1. What an adorable place!! I love charming towns like this.

  2. Yes indeed. I don't think my dream of moving there for 12 months will ever come to fruition and so I love spending a week or so somewhere outside Paris and seeing how varied life is. And every town and village has its own story, doesn't it, which is wonderful.