Lille_Restaurant Le Rouge Barre © Sophie StalnikiewiczLille_Restaurant Le Rouge Barre
©Lille, Restaurant Le Rouge Barre |Sophie Stalnikiewicz

The dabbler’s table

Your heart wavers between tradition and modernity, you are a curious foodie, attracted as much by hip places, famous places as by the improbable little café. As a jovial Epicurean, you are happy in your kitchen because you are a fine connoisseur of recipes and good produce. Paul Gauguin once said something that fits you to a T, “Cooking requires one to have a carefree mind, a generous spirit and a big heart”. And it’s with this attitude that you throw yourself impulsively into an onslaught on our gourmet restaurants.

Northern France _ Lille_ Le Rouge Barre Restaurant © Sophie StalnikiewiczNorthern France _ Lille_ Le Rouge Barre Restaurant © Sophie Stalnikiewicz
©Northern France, Lille, Le Rouge Barre Restaurant|Sophie Stalnikiewicz

Le Rouge Barre

If you want sincere and frank cuisine, head for the Rouge Barre in Lille, run by an ex-Top Chef. Before your very eyes, Steven Ramon concocts his effortless cuisine with produce from local artisans and producers, his dishes cooked to perfection and impeccably seasoned. His menus are clear, unfussy, and not overplayed, written in the hand of the straightforward man that he is, serving up smoked haddock-beetroot-goat cheese, or bass-watercress-celery…

Flavors and taste

Eating well isn’t necessarily a luxury but rather a simple pleasure, and that is your motto that you share with the dreamy, creative bistro “Les Oiseaux” in Lille. The place is as charming as it is surprising, a little bit revolutionary too with three creative and complementary cooks. A short and seasonal menu is written on the blackboard, created from whatever happens to be growing in their producers’ fields. Go there without hesitation.

Then there’s the remarkable and unusual “L’Ardoise” in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme with a breath-taking view of the Bay of Somme from their picture window. You might even catch a glimpse of a seal splashing around in the water; the animal is often sighted in this “Grand Site de France”. The multi-fish cuisine with its characteristic taste of the sea from our Picardy coast is quite simply exquisite.

From the garden to the plate

You are a purist who is particularly fond of seasonal cooking aka spontaneous cuisine so check out the Picard neo-bistro Le Rhizome, a mouth-watering address in Compiégne, and highly rated on the web. You will certainly be happy to sample the proudly regional offering of cream of Soissons beans, Picard pork, poultry from the Petit Bocage, organic vegetables from Pierre Chabrol, cheeses from Ferme de Berneuil … all produce that the chef treats with respect, talent, and conviction.

Should a Michelin-starred table tempt you, go and get some fresh air at the edge of Hetz forest in the Oise at “L’Orée de la Forêt” in Etouy. This is a 19th century mansion, elegant and quietly refined, set in a tree-lined park where the chef grows a kitchen garden supplying your fare with fresh vegetables and herbs. The food is in line with current tastes and lovingly prepared. Afterwards, going for a postprandial stroll seems a natural thing to do.

Local’s tip

Virginie CoudreVirginie Coudre
©Virginie Coudre
You can’t buy fish fresher than in Le Crotoy

My top tip for foodies who loves their fish fresh off the boat is to head to the quayside in Le Crotoy on Saturdays and Sundays, 10am to noon and 3pm to 5pm. Four friendly fishmongers sell their wares at newly installed stalls here, all fresh fish and seafood from trawlers in Le Tréport, Dieppe, Etaples and Boulogne sur Mer. I often pick up my sole fillets and shrimps here for the kids, or if we’re preparing a special meal for friends, I’ll grab some turbot. The best bit is that it’s all refreshingly good value for money because you’re buying direct.


Virginie Coudre, nature and heritage specialist, Rue

Useful info


50 rue de la Halle

F-59000 LILLE


Tel: +33 (0) 3 20 67 08 84


7 Rue d’Inkermann

F-59000 LILLE


Tel: +33 (0)7 66 15 95 79



102 Rue de la Ferté



Tel: +33 (0)3 22 26 69 04



6 Rue des Pâtissiers



Tel: +33 (0)9 83 77 42 22



255 Rue de la Forêt

F-60600 ÉTOUY


Tel: +33 (0)3 44 51 65 18