Fresh Eire Blog
Bayonne is a famous city of the South West of France which is at the crossroads of the Atlantic sea, Pyrénées Mountains and Spanish border. This unique geographical situation has led to its economical and demographical expansion. Indeed Bayonne has successfully evolved from a fortified medieval town to a dynamic city which attracts more and more investors. Nonetheless, Bayonne has managed to keep its Basque cultural and historic identity which is still omnipresent, especially in the small charming city centre where the architecture of the building translates its singularity.
Hôtel Les Basses Pyrénées
This newly renovated 4 star hotel is located in the historical centre of Bayonne and surrounded by ramparts. This is an atypical hotel because its exterior façade has an authentic medieval appearance contrasting with its brand new well-designed interior.
The highly reputed Le Bayonne hotel has been fully renovated and has earned 4 stars because of the luxurious services provided such as the sauna, hammam or the heated outdoor swimming pool. Le Bayonne is situated 5 minutes walk away from the city centre. You can also enjoy the restaurant in the hotel and the very nice terrace giving you a perfect view of the river La Nive. Le Bayonne offers a tranquil stay and it is our top hotel recommendation for the city.
This three star hotel is perfectly situated if you arrive by train as it is located just a few steps away from the train station. Most of the rooms have a view on the river L’ Adour as well as on the town hall. If you want to discover the historical city centre you just have to cross the bridge in front of the entrance. Although not typical of a Fresh Eire Adventures hotel recommendation this is a fine budget choice.
A Table is a small convivial and familial restaurant with a a few tables, so it is imperative to reserve before coming. This lovely restaurant, situated in front of the river (La Nive) has become a victim of its own success. The owners, Wilfried and Claire have seduced a whole town not only because of the affordable prices but also the local, fresh and delicious products that they serve.
Le Pavé is situated in the heart of the historical centre of Bayonne next to the the Gothic cathedral. Besides its ideal location, you will find a fine cuisine with a charming atmosphere combining modernity and tradition. You will be surprised how reasonable the prices are, it is great value for money.
Auberge du Cheval Blanc
The Auberge du Cheval Blanc is a true gastronomic institution providing a service of higher quality as the restaurant received a Michelin Star in 1995. The chef Jean-Claude Tellecha is the heir of a prestigious family of Chefs which has allowed him, from a young age, to develop a unique know-how which will take you on a true culinary journey.
The capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, Belfast in Ulster province is a city mainly famous for conflicts between Catholics and Protestants during The Troubles. The ship Titanic was built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff. Nowadays, the city is a centre for industry. This blog post was written by Mathieu from La Rochelle Business School (ESC) during his internship with Fresh Eire Adventures.
- The Europa Hotel:
The 4-star Europa Hotel is an institution in Belfast. The Hotel is famous to be the Europe’s most bombed hotel during The Troubles. Close to the Grand Opera House, this luxurious establishment is now very well known to host prestigious events. Rooms are spacious and designed with style. They offer stunning views on Victoria Street. Enjoy the Piano Lounge with a cocktail to combine glamour and pleasure. The Europa Hotel is surrounded by all Belfast’s attractions.
Malmaison 4-star Hotel is a luxurious Boutique Hotel in Victoria Street near all Belfast’s attractions. Rooms are spacious and modern. With its personal style, the rooms will surprise you, in a good way. To fully appreciate your stay, visit the Spa after a visiting Belfast day. The wine bar of the Hotel is also a real opportunity to discover a selection of tasty earthy, robust or fruity wine in a welcoming atmosphere surrounded by Belfast’s stylish locals.
- Park Inn by Radisson Belfast:
Located in Clarence street, the 3-star Park Inn hotel is an affordable establishment close to the attractions of the city. Rooms are spotless and quiet. The breakfast is copious and is an ideal start to your busy day in Northern Ireland.
Eipic Michelin star restaurant close to the Belfast City Hall allows you to dine in a modern and elegant atmosphere. Chef Danni Barry is the second female chef awarded with a star in Ireland. Her cuisine is refined and composed with only the freshest and most seasonal ingredients and offers delicate dishes beautifully presented. The French sommelier, Didier Nyeceront will ensure a harmonious wine pairing.
- OX restaurant:
Located in Oxford street on the Lagan river bank, OX Michelin star restaurant will first attract you with its large bay window throught which you will discover chic and cosy furnishings. Stephen and Alan will combine their skills to offer the very best seasonal produce accompanied by a carefully selected bottle of wine. Ox restaurant is unquestionably a wonderful dining experience.
- Kathmandu Kitchen Nepalese & Indian Restaurant:
Kathmandu Kitchen Nepalese & Indian Restaurant, close to the Botanical Gardens of Belfast, is simply the best local restaurant according to TripAdvisor reviews. If the outdoor seems to be classic, the Tibetan atmosphere inside combines stunning decor with delicious Indian cuisine. This restaurant is not only a dining experience but an unforgettable journey through Nepalese mountains and Indian flavours. A gastronomic spectacle and great value.
- Titanic Quarter:
The Titanic Quarter is one of the largest urban waterfront regenerations with maritime landmarks and film studios mostly dedicated to the Titanic history comprising The Wee Tram, Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House, Boat and Walking Tours or Titanic Exhibition Centre. No doubt, this place has something special, especially when you discover the origin of the RMS Titanic.
- Queen’s University:
Queen’s University is a centre of public research excellence in Belfast. The Lanyon Building especially is architecturaly wonderful. This world class heritage produced Nobel Laureates and International Leaders like Seamus Heaney (Nobel prize of Literature) and Mary McAleese (President of Ireland 1997-2011). Moreover, this University is also very well known for supporting and claiming Catholicism and Presbyterianism rather than Anglicanism in the 19th Century.
- Black Cab Tours:
The Black Cab Tours company invites you to discover Belfast in an informative but amusing way. An institution, there is no better way to hear all the secrets of the World-Famous Murals. The company offers you others tours just as entertaining and as surprising. Why not opt for the Game of Thrones & Antrim Coast Tour, or even their Post Conflict & Political Studies Tour ?
Located in Loire Valley, France, one-hour drive far from Paris, Blois is a beautiful city situated on the Loire river banks between Orleans and Tours. It is especially known for the Royal Castle of Blois which attracts more than 300,000 tourists every year and is also the starting place for our Loire Valley Fresh Eire Adventure. Easily reached by direct train from Paris Austerlitz.
Located close to the centre of town, the Mercure Hotel is a welcoming 4-star hotel which allows you to get your trip in the Loire Valley off to a great start. Recently renovated, the establishment offers you spa services such as heated swimming pool, sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi to relax in a peaceful atmosphere. A fitness gym offers you the opportunity to exert yourself.
Ibis Styles Blois Centre Gare
A few steps away from the main tourist attractions, the 3-star Ibis Hotel is greatl value for money. Rooms are small but comfortable and quiet to fully appreciate your night. The customer service is surprisingly good for a 3-star hotel. The Royal Castleof Blois is only 9 minutes walk away.
Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures, stayed here to evaluate it for future guests. Here is his review from TripAdvisor:
"Located on the wrong side of the tracks from the main tourist attractions this Ibis was actually surprisingly good. Bright (if unsurprisingly cheap) decor and cheery competent staff.The room layout was efficient but very small - I was barely able to open my suitcase. Bathroom was especially memorable for its excellent shower and beds were also comfortable. Wi-fi was also strong and overall cleanliness was good. Very little street noise.Unusually I opted to take breakfast at the hotel and was thankful I did. A fine array of cheeses, meats and fruit, breads and pastries, excellent coffee (albeit from a Nespresso machine which they try to keep hidden in an anteroom).Worth the 10 minute walk to the hub. Recommended."
Hotel Anne de Bretagne
Anne de Bretagne is a unique 2-star establishment with its virginia creeper which allows you to relax in a peaceful but charming atmosphere between The Royal Castle and The Cathedral. Rooms have an old world charm decor and simplicity. The hotel offers strong free Wi-Fi. This hotel is an excellent option for a family trip.
Hotel Louise de Savoie
Located in the heart of the city centre, on the right side of Loire river, between the train station and the Royal Castle of Blois, Louis de Savoie is a basic but charming and cosy 2-star hotel. It offers rooms from 1 to 4 persons, free WI FI, a private parking (€8/day) and a reception service from 7am to 10pm. Louise de Savoie is a very good option for a relaxing or romantic stay in Blois.
The Michelin star restaurant L’Orangerie, located at the edge of the Royal Castleof Blois, give you the opportunity to sample divine French cuisine in an exceptional atmosphere. Built in the 15th Century for French monarchs, the building has maintained its original features. Chef Jean-Marc MOLVEAUX offers a selection of 4 delicious menus to extend your unique French experience. We recommend the cheese board (extra €5).
Au Coin d’table
Located in Blois city centre, on the left side of the Loire river, Au Coin d’table is a basic and cosy restaurant for a pleasant and surprising lunch or dinner time in Loire Valley (closed Tuesday/Wednesday). The restaurant offers a delicious gourmet menu for €56, the St Sylvestre. The restaurant gives you the opportunity to discover an affordable but tasty and copious menu for only €17. Au Coin d’table is an ideal way to enjoy a break after spending time visiting Blois but also surroundings. Sometimes there's a cat on the prowl - be warned!
Padraic, Founder and Managing Director of Fresh Eire Adventures says of this restaurant:
"For dinner I recommend Au Coin D'Table (9, rue Henri Drussy); super friendly staff and unfussy menu. Very nice wine list there too (theres an excellent Cotes des Nuits Burgundy red for around €40). There is often a cat roaming the restaurant - be warned."
Le Petit Honfleur
A few steps from the Ibis Hotel Blois Centre Gare, Le Petit Honfleur is a cosy and charming restaurant using mainly local products and focuses on French regional gastronomy. The menu is efficient and the Bouchée à la reine aux morilles is simply gorgeous. The setting is quaint.
Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Le Petit Honfleur by Padraic, director and owner of Fresh Eire Adventures
''We stumbled upon this quaint Normandy style restaurant in an atmospheric and authentic building. My friend had already eaten so while I enjoyed a double serving of the (starter sized) Saint Jacques Cassoulet (at €12 a serving) he enjoyed a glass or two of house wine. Excellent - I will certainly return. Recommended.''
Château Royal de Blois
While our Loire Valley bike tour begins in Blois it is important to remember that we do not visit the town, nor its chateau as part of the tour. As such we recommend arriving in Blois the day before your tour begins to visit the chateau.
The first remains of the Royal Castle date from the 6th Century with the Castrum Citadel. The Castle offers a wonderful panorama composed by 4 different facades. Each of them correspond to a specific period of the French story. After a visit the Castle you will be an expert in this fabulous and interesting historical time. In all, the Castle housed 10 Queens and 7 French Kings. The Royal Castle is the icon of the city and such a good place to visit during a sunny afternoon in Blois. It’s completely stunning. Remember to charge your camera.
Bike Tour Menus:
What to expect at a Fresh Eire Adventures Restaurant?
George V Dining Room
Here is a sample menu we’d recommend:
Start with the Connemara Lamb Salad, followed by the Soup, followed by the Hake with either the Connemara Whiskey Crème Brulee. These all showcase the very best of local Irish gastronomy.
Auberge de la Caillère
Auberge de la Caillère is an excellent and highly recommended 3 star hotel-restaurant featured on our Classic Loire Valley adventure in France. We dine here on both our Deluxe and Classic trips. It is only a matter of time before Eric & Aurélie receive their Michelin star.
Restaurant Olivier Arlot
Here are our Top Café & Restaurant Recommendations in Dublin.
Hatch & Sons
Located at the edge of St Stephen Green, Dublin 2, Hatch & Sons offers an authentic Irish food experience served in a beautiful Georgian kitchen. The Irish breakfast is served on a beautiful Irish oak wood board, and the chicken salad comes with refined buttermilk dressing.
Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :
“Excellent quality lunch with a pal, seated on their basement terrace in the sunshine...a wonderful Dublin treat. My fishcakes were superb; served with a light salad. My friends goats cheese salad was also superb. Wonderful food, great setting but service was a little disappointing (I had to send back my white wine - dirty glass, wine not cold)...”
Fade Street Social
Fade Street Social is an excellent restaurant that focuses on combining an uncomplicated way to cook using home grown products to give a rustic and exquisite flavour to their food. Inspired by his artistic mind, Chef Dylan McGrath highlights the importance of simplicity and final taste in his process. The restaurant is based just in front of the Brooks hotel, on the corner of Fade Street and Drury Lane in Dublin 2.
Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Fade Street Social by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :
“This is really one of the best gastro bargains in Dublin; a recession-busting 3 course gourmet lunch for €25. But don't be in a hurry to enjoy the Fade Street Social experience. On the menu: a choice of 4 mains, 4 starters and 2 deserts. The starters are served with an extra flat bread pizza of mushroom and pumpkin - no one, not even the most famished, will go hungry. My (solitary) scallop was a delight; perfectly cooked and full of flavour. My friend's seasonal vegetable plate was the superior choice however; a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. The accompanying flatbread pizza was exquisite; a taste sensation and an original deviation from the typical bread-in-a-basket. Some might say that this is overkill; that perhaps it is excessive. I, for one, having had just the scallop, was delighted the starter was accompanied by something a tad more substantial than a lone bivalve. We both opted for the ravioli. This was an exquisite dish; a selection of mushrooms (ceps, girolles...) and a sheet of fresh pasta (not parcels as one might expect) in a rich truffle sauce with a fresh gremolta. Perhaps one of the finest plates I had all year thus far. Service was a little haphazzard (although not terrible for a lunch service); our mains went to the other side of the restuarant and it was a minute before they realised for whom they were inteneded, and it took a while (5 minutes) to get the attention of the server when we wanted to pay and leave (he was hanging out by the doorway chatting with the restaurant manager and bar tender and didn't so much as throw a cursory glance in our direction during that 5 minute period). House waters (still and sparkling) were €1 each for a c.600-750ml bottle (great idea as long as you are not after mineral water as my lunch companion was), I had a super glass of Tempranillo (€7) and we enjoyed two Americanos (€3.25 each). Not terribly busy for a Monday lunch; there were perhaps 20-30 diners well spread out in the well appointed airy room. Stylish and comfortable (yet functional) furnishings, a table runner (fussy, unnecessary) and good quality napkins. I did not visit the bathroom. On the other tables: quite conservative looking folks in their mid 30s upwards; couples, friends, business meeting types. On the stereo: inoffensive trendoid tunes. Not in my pocket: €75 including tip. The atmosphere was a little flat; the restaurant manager, while making eye contact and smiling at the guests, did little else to interact with customers; something which (especially in a quiet restaurant) takes very little effort and can go a long way in establishing a long standing rapport. Perhaps most folks wouldn't see this as important, and I admit to being old fashioned when it comes to hospitality, but I believe a Manager should always work the room whenever possible. Overall a fantastic lunch and highly recommended.”
Established in 2005 and located on Palace Street at the gates of Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, Chez Max is an excellent French restaurant considered as a traditional French café. The decoration is wonderful and inspired by the Paris Gardens. Chez Max offers delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner all homemade with a Parisian style.
Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :
‘’One of the most authentic French restaurants in town, I recently visisted Chez Max with a couple of friends. The experience was superb from beginning to end. Seated at a central table, we were immediately offered water and drinks by our server who was friendly, informative, efficient and answered our questions confidently and insightfully. The menu is extensive with some true stand out features such as the seared tuna (delicious).
Some regular wines were a little on the pricey side (Gigondas at €45 per btl, €11.25 a glass) but there are some commendable bottles such as the Riseling at €29. Not the most affordable French bistro in town (€177.25 plus tip; 3 starters, 3 mains, 2 bottles as described, 2 espressos. no desserts) but an outstanding meal nevertheless and therefore great value. Highly recommended.’’
Located in front of L’Gueuleton on trendy Fade Street in Dublin 2, the Market Bar is an original gastro bar and an excellent tapas restaurant that offers pretty good snacks (especially the garlic bread and the soup of the day, delicious) and its own range of meats, salads, seafood, pizzas and vegetarian menus. We recommend to try the delicious “Gambas Pil Pil” (it comes with fresh bread) with a glass of red wine; the “Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux”.
Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Market Bar by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :
‘’Wine list is on the value side but offering a fair selection sub 25 euro a bottle while the tapas selection is comprehensive. Excellent calamari, risotto with fish kebabs and simple tortilla are standouts for me. Service is superb and overall this casual dining experience offers excellent value for money.’’
Located on South Great George’s Street, 777 is an authentic Mexican restaurant that successfully combines the bold flavours of Mexico City with the national Irish techniques. Open 7 days a week, 777 offers a modern environment, is friendly,and inspired by the typical image we can have of a Mexican’s interior saloon. This is the best Mexican in Dublin by a long way.
Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of 777 by Padraic, director and owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :
‘’I had heard much off 777 since it opened some time ago...all positive but I also heard people grumble about the prices. I went along with an open mind and was blown away. What I wasn't expecting was the amazing food on offer (Ireland does not have a good track record of doing Mexican fayre at all well - need I remind anyone of the plethora of Tex Mex menus masquerading as the real deal?) I was also not expecting to be wowed in almost every other way possible. Our server was friendly, chatty, polite, witty and efficient; off to a great start. She also looked the part. They don't take reservations (grumble) but we arrived early and were seated right away. The place filled up within 30 minutes - my advice; get there early! We ordered some excellent cocktails (I had a non-alcoholic ginger based extravaganza - amazingly refreshing and delicious...if not cheap; grumble!) and perused the menus. Lots of choice here for meat eaters and pescatarians / flexitarians alike...vegetarians however have limited choice. The specials were also appetising. While we waited for a third member of our group to join us we ordered some chips and guacamole - again excellent (served in Tacqueria style red plastic basket - small touch adding to the authentic feel of this place). Decor is a mix of Lower East Side NYC art deco of white tile, booths with formica tables...a long elegant bar open to diners with well stocked tidy shelves. Bar tenders knew what they were doing too and made an excellent job of my friend's Maragrita. No table cloths or linen napkins here; but high quality paper napkins and very well cleaned down tables. Dark lighting and blacked out frosted over windows makes this place look a bit like a sex club from the street - not necessarily in a sleazy way but gives a sense of "best kept secret" as you enter. Sure, it's a hipster hangout and is unapologetic about it. This is utterly fine with me; I'm a wannabe hipster who is probably old enough to know better but I like looking at cooler people prettier than myself these days. On the stereo; a strange mix of 80s dance tunes, hip hop and Americana...somehow it worked as it was subtle and more background music than pumping thumping tunes. Womack & Womack meets Don Henly. Who knew? On the other tables: couples on dates, friends having dinner and drinks, after work crowds...buzzing in general. The food was OUTSTANDING - I ordered a special of Shrimp in chipolte, some soft shell tacos with Snapper and shrimp emenadas...all perfectly executed; not fussy and utterly delicious. And AUTHENTIC Mexican - this is as good as it gets folks. Mexican is one of my favourite types of cooking and I've been spoiled for choice because I travel to the USA so much and have been to Mexico (not just for the food) 5 or 6 times. Bathrooms were spotlessly clean and followed the blacked out lighting theme throughout. No expense spared in the toiletries either; L'Occitane Verbena liquid soap and bars all the way. Thankfully no horrific hand driers to contend with either; high-quality civilised paper towels all the way. You must walk through the kitchen pick up area to access the bathrooms so you can throw an eye on the goings on back there too. For desert we ordered sorbets and 2 portions of OUTSTANDING Key Lime Pie...again; if you haven't had Key Lime Pie done properly before you're in for a real treat if you order it here. I've never seen it on a menu in Ireland before. OK,, so it was not cheap. The damage for the three of us came to 155 euro before tip. For what we had however this was reasonable. For the entire experience however I'd go so far as to say this was amazing value for money. Wow factors all the way from the service to the bathrooms to the food to the cocktails. Top drawer all the way. Yet fun and super casual. This is one of my new favourite restaurants and one I can wholeheartedly recommend to friends and clients alike. Bravo for getting it done right first time around. I can't wait to return. 10/10.’’
Located on trendy Fade Street in Dublin, L’Gueuleton offers a fusion of exquisite French bistro food, wine and high quality Irish produce in a relaxed and casual setting. You should try the caramel cream, the most popular dessert of the bistro. A recent guest of Fresh Eire Adventures compared the experience here to the very best French food outside of France.
Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :
“When this place opened it had an air of self-importance. Roll on a few years and the recession has hit. The pretension has disappeared but the menu, food and service are still right up there with the best Dublin has to offer. Prices are reasonable. Their specials are always worth checking out. The layout of this French style restaurant is simple yet possesses a comfortable atmosphere and a wonderfully solid, uncomplicated menu with plenty of choice. Their Oysters Rockerfeller are the best in Dublin. There is almost always a buzz here at night but during the day, especially mid week, lunches are quieter. Mid week lunches are now my favourite time to eat here; a long lesiurely boozey lunch where the servers are not trying to move you on! I recommend this restaurant to colleagues and clients alike - everyone who goes here RAVES about the service, ambiance and especially the food. Great wine list too with plenty of good quality bottles in the sub 40 euro category. Keep up the good work.”