Sad to say, unlike this sunny photo; it was a dreary August day, when we eased our way in the lengthy line of traffic aimed at Mont Saint-Michel. Imagine that – a long line of visitors to one of the most popular sites in France during the highest of holiday vacation weeks. C’est la vie. Today, we would know, and plan, better.
It simply didn’t matter. I had long awaited this visit. Several years before, I had interviewed the nothing-short-of-precious Dean of the Chapel at Rollins College. He had recently returned from a sabbatical to Edinburgh, but I most remembered his description of Mont Saint-Michel – of dining in a restaurant in the lower village. It was renowned for fluffy omelettes cooked to perfection. Not surprisingly, this warm man with spectacles perched low on his nose and lively eyes brimming with soft mischief, was invited (and guided) to create his own omelette in a copper pan over the open fire stove.
Finally, we arrived to park in a sandy lot, with the warning that we had four hours, until the lot would be covered by the incoming tide. There was a constant grey drizzle, as we made our way toward the stunning monument rising in the mist, a solo sentinel over the sea to the North and the corn fields and cattle to the South.
Shortly after we entered the village, we simply knew – this is the restaurant. Others could have told us of this famous village landmark, la Mère Poulard, where in 1888 Annette Poulard first created her frothy egg mixture over an oak fire in a long-handled copper skillet. While we waited for our dining table in an upper room, we watched a young lady creating omelettes just as the Dean had described.
Local marsh lamb and fresh-catch fish are other specialties, but we had no choice but to enjoy the infamous soufflé-like egg dish with a delicate white wine and a deep appreciation for this memorial moment. The Dean had long since passed away, yet he was with us then, out of the dreary rain in the warmth of his own revered restaurant.
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