The Grand Hotel at St Jean de Luz

The Grand HotelThe  Grand Hotel at St Jean de Luz is only five hours away by car from  us in Deux Sevres but as we approached our destination it felt like we had ventured into another country. You could describe it as a cross between Swiss chalets and fishing ports such as Fowey in Cornwall mixed in with a bit of Broadstairs! Although we live in the Gatine hills they are nothing compared to seeing the Atlantic Pyrenees for the first time as they tower over the little town of St Jean de Luz.The Grand Hotel (6) You see this week we are celebrating my husband's fiftieth birthday. His birthday was in March but we couldn't get away so we managed to book The Grand Hotel at a quiet time of year through Secret Escapes. Now I'm definitely  not a regular to luxury hotels so handing the  car keys over is not something we usually do, nor is been personally met by the manager, having a cocktail at reception and having everything done for me! I think we appreciated it more having run our own holiday business. They even accept dogs. We couldn't help but have a chuckle at this, wondering how our two exuberant Weimaraners would go down....   Let's not even try to imagine that one.The Grand Hotel (13) It didn't take long to check out the room and then head down to the bar.  I booked a Classic, (standard), room which  was beautiful with a balcony at the front of the hotel. It was scrupulously clean. The Grand Hotel is on the beach and that is something we definitely miss as we lived very close to the sea in England. Listening to the sea roll in from the Bay of Biscay, and smelling the air is intoxicating which might have had something to do with a very nice glass of Sancerre on a very empty stomach. We were joined for drinks by these little sparrows who were looking for any excuse to help us with some nuts; a bit different to the pigeons and seagulls we are used to at the beach in England. The Grand Hotel (8) The aim of this trip was to relax, dress up  and to eat. In our  simple, rural way of life we spend a lot of time walking the dogs, gardening and working outside so there's not much glamour and for most of the time an uncomplicated life is what I want.  The Grand Hotel (12) As it was such a stunning day we decided on dinner at the hotel.  It was quite an intimate setting with all the tables facing the sea and behind us the chefs all busy preparing the food where we could see them. I have to admit I would have loved to learn a thing or two in there! So now to the important bit, the food. We were served an amuse bouche  and then this dish of octopus with wasabi and seaweed crisp.  The Grand Hotel I opted for a langoustine starter... Poached and fried langoustine were decorated with Hydrangea flowers and the seafood broth had tiny pearls of turnip swimming around. As it was served a buttery sauce was poured over. I normally think that langoustine is overrated, a bit like lobster. I love them, they are just not normally worth the price, or the shredded fingers. I have to say that this was amazing and the coating reminded me of popcorn. The Grand Hotel (2) Ian had oysters which were stuffed with crab and then encapsulated in their seawater. Apparently it is a signature dish of the chef, Christophe Grosjean. Radishes seem to be used a lot in France. It seems to be a rather overlooked vegetable in England. The Grand Hotel (3) Next Ian had roast fillet and shoulder of lamb with broad beans... The Grand Hotel (5) And I had pigeon. It was extremely rare but melted in the mouth. The Grand Hotel (7) I have noticed that French people always have dessert, where we would normally just have coffee but Ian had the cheese. The Grand Hotel (10)I opted for this strawberry and pistachio creation which I hoped wasn't too calorific! Oh well, we planned on doing lots of walking and saunas! The Grand Hotel (9)To finish we ordered a fabulous sunset...even if the picture was taken on my phone! (like all the food pictures).  I hope no one noticed. I didn't dare take my camera into dinner! The Grand Hotel (11)Where would you go to relax? Amanda x             

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