Thursday, 30 April 2015

Favourite hotels: a little gem in southern France

Number 4 in an occasional series on special hotels

It was the irritating tendency of French hotels to close their restaurants on Sunday evenings that led us to the Hotel Mont Aigoual. We had been walking on the Monts d’Aubrac, an open and sometimes windswept plateau which straddles a pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in the south of the 28 Massif Central, and we wanted to move on. Besides a restaurant that opened on Sundays the prerequisites were good cooking at a reasonable price and a comfortable room. From its description in the Michelin red guide to France, the three star Mont Aigoual, in the small town of Meyrueis, looked a good bet.

And so it turned out. It’s a member of Logis de France, a long established family business run impeccably by Stella Robert, who polices the restaurant with eagle eyed briskness, and chef Daniel Lagrange. The rooms, which have flat screen TVs and either showers or baths, were more than adequate and modestly priced. Current rates range from €90 to €160 (or roughly £65 to just over £115), Breakfast included fruit juices, yoghurts, charcuterie and pastries. There was an open air pool in the garden at the rear.

It was the food that marked it out, however. The excellent Menu Terroir remains a real bargain at €18 for two courses or €25 for three – maybe with a main of trout from the River Jonte with chorizo or Navarin d’Agneau. Sometimes we were content with that, sometimes we stretch to the Menu Gourmand, starting at €37, which currently includes lamb from the nearby limestone causses and turbot with truffles. For dessert I have returned more than once to the “assortissement” of intensely flavoured sorbets.

Lest you doubt my recommendation, users of currently rate the note "fabulous"'.

Meyrueis, in the Lozère department, lies at the meeting point of the Jonte, the Bethuson and the Brèze. The tourist office can provide details of excellent walks in the area. Among them are circuits on the Causse Méjean, the limestone plateau which rises steeply just to the north of the town, where there’s a memorial to 34 members of the resistance were killed (and 37 captured and executed) in the battle of La Parade on May 24, 1944.

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