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Question about Honfleur and Bayeux and Oysters

Well we have taken all of your suggestions about our drive from Paris to Bayeux this trip and skipping MSM. I am looking to stop in Honfleur on the way back to Paris and would like to find a place with great oysters (since we read an article in the Chicago paper about oysters along the Normandy coast last week.) We had great oysters years ago in Nice and along the southern coast of France. Any suggestions for lunch?? Also does anyone know what days there are markets in Honfleur and Bayeux. I want to thank all of you who responded to our questions months ago. We leave next Wednesday. Thanks Sue

Posted by
28078 posts

Well I don't know warm water oyster from cold water oyster, but what I do know is the Diaries of Samuel Pepys. On Friday the 16th of October 1668, for example he notes "and had a barrel of oysters," at http://www.pepysdiary.com/archive/1668/10/16/ . The annotations for oysters note, among others, Oysters, often imported from France, were cheap and plentiful, like many other shellfish in Pepys's day. They were popular with rich and poor alike. They are the most frequently mentioned seafood in the diary 68 times. It's more likely that any oysters to arrive on board the Naseby at this point would have come from Whitstable, a town on the north Kent shore famous for its oysters since Roman times. Whitstable oysters still enjoy an enormous reputation for their succulence and this small town is a fashionable destination for seafood lovers. The River Thames had oysters for a long time It would be reasonable that the oysters eaten by Pepys and his friends were brought up the Thames. These were eaten in large quantities and were not regarded as being as exotic as they are today. = = =
So, local oysters, especially in 1668 would have likely come from a less warm water than Florida. Maybe they are actually 2 different species?

Posted by
1068 posts

Oysters live in both colder and warmer waters. Those in colder waters store more sugar and fat in their meat - which is why lots of people prefer them. Oysters derive a LOT of their flavor from their environment - even more than wine and cheese do. So the same species of oyster can taste very different depending on the local water it grew up in. And yes, there are different species. I think there are about 5 U.S. species. I don't know about European oysters. Oysters in Normandy are a delight. They are also very much on the menu in the winter - it's the perfect time to be eating oysters!

Posted by
9110 posts

I really ticks me off when I get nailed by a Brit. And who was this Pepys dude, anyway? And who would want to eat something called huitres, anyway? Just the sound makes you want to gag.

Posted by
9110 posts

The easy part first: both major markets are on Saturday, but there might be one on Wednedsay in Bayeux as well. Pardon my friggin gastronomical ignorance, but I always thought oysters were a warm-water shellfish. Living on the Gulf Coast, I won't even eat them in Charleston. Go for the mussels and cockels and other cold-water stuff instead. Since you won't pay any attention: in Honfleur, on the corner of the same square as the market (uphill, north/northeast of the old port) is a place called the Corsair - - it's expensive but probably has the biggest spread. The street that runs beside the Corsair dead-ends in a block or two - - there's a slew of small places that offer better prices for Bayeux, go northwest on the street that serves the tapestry museum (maybe R. Nesmond) - - if you don't find something you like before you come to the first major cross-street, hang a right on that corner and there's more places on each side of the road in the next couple of blocks

Posted by
40 posts

You made me chuckle. I thought they were cold water but what do I know. Glad to hear that there is a market in Bayeux on Sat. I thought there was and then I saw several posts that said Sunday. BTW we have eaten those large trays of creatures while in Charminox and Southern France. My husband got most of it as I did not eat what was crawling.... :)

Posted by
3696 posts

Well, I leave for the same area next Thur.... we will probably pass on the road...here's hoping for decent weather (which I am very lucky with) @Ed... I saw Andrew (my grandson) last nite and asked him if he had looking over your suggestions yet. He's 15, so you can imagine his answer...he says he will do it this weekend, but I did print it out, so if all else fails he will read it on the plane! Thanks, again

Posted by
1014 posts

I am from Eastern NC and eat oysters all the time. There are usually 3-5 roasts going on each month from Oct. to March, so I have eaten a lot of oysters in the past 30 years. We stopped in Bayeux as part of our trip around France and I had a seafood plate. Expensive and unimpressed to say the least. Would not recommend it and would not do it again.

Posted by
2985 posts

My dad visited Honfleur last year and ate at several restaurants on the Vieux Bassin. The one he liked was L'Homme de Bois, 30-32 rue de l'Homme de Bois for oysters. Away from the Vieux Bassin, they also had good seafood at L'escale. Ed, Samuel Pepys was a Member of Parliament who lived in London and kept a diary of everyday life in the mid-1600's. His account of The Great Fire of London in 1666 was the most detailed account we have. (He included details of his extra-marital affairs in the diary.) Reprinted many times. Truly an interesting read.

Posted by
9110 posts

Thank you Rebecca. I don't know too much about history or literature.

Posted by
2349 posts

Pepys ate so many oysters because the famous Easter candy had not yet been invented. No Peeps for Pepys. "Huitres" is the noise I make when I even think about oysters. Do you people really think those balls of mucus are food?

Posted by
8491 posts

Do you think I can get a free Kindle download of this Pepy's diary?

Posted by
2985 posts

Pepys was probably sick a lot if he ate oysters from the Thames. (Nigel said the River Thames had oysters for a long time.) But the River Thames was also used as a sewer in Pepys time, and for about 300 years before. Ewww! ;(

Posted by
28078 posts

Pepys was Clerk of the Acts. He was a civil servant, at the highest levels. His work caused the Navy to be what it is today - well a few years ago before the budget cuts. He wasn't an MP but knew them all. There may be a Kindle version, dunno, but good fun is what my wife and hundreds of others do - go to http://www.pepysdiary.com/ and each day read what happened the same day in the Diary with notes and annotations. Good fun. He got sick from time to time - I don't remember any of it due to the oysters. Health and safety was not then what it now is.

Posted by
2985 posts

Norma, That's what I thought also. For anyone who wants a copy of the Pepys Diary, look at your library or bookstore for ISBN 0141390166 in the Penguin Publishing Classic History series paperback (on Amazon for 99 cents used). Bets, if you go the Amazon page for this, there may be a Kindle version available at the bottom of the page. But it won't be free.

Posted by
40 posts

I love reading all of your responses.... Thank You,
Sue

Posted by
77 posts

I was in Bayeux in October 2009 and there was a market on Wednesday. We were not there on a Saturday. We stayed at the Hotel Churchill and our room looked out over the street and we could see the various stalls.

Posted by
8293 posts

I'm pretty sure Ed was having you all on when he asked "Who is this Pepys dude?". Am I right, Ed?

Posted by
9110 posts

Okay, okay. So I've read a little history. You don't have to rub it in - - it's just that I have no life.

Posted by
4373 posts

Oh, Fort Wayne Karen - for the umpteenth time today, you've caused me to ROTFLM*O!!! Peeps for YOU! (wiping tears) I always thought that anything you were supposed to SWALLOW WHOLE couldn't be good...What's the point? BUT...that's supposed to be The Place to get 'em... I would look for the cidre, instead ;-) Have a GREAT trip!!! And bundle up against the cold and wind (and probably rain)...