Yesterday we decided on a Great Escape. The reason? A scheduled power outage, which was to last from 8:30 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon, for improvements to the area’s electrical grid (technically, it’s the Greater Daglan Grid Area, or GDGA). The outage had been planned by our power utility, EDF, and communicated to us in a formal letter.
Reasoning that we’d lose Internet access, as well as our lighting, my wife Jan and I figured we’d simply leave the house, head out of Daglan, do some exploring, and have lunch somewhere before heading home. What we didn’t expect was discovering Les Glycines in Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac, and falling in love with this hotel-restaurant.
We’ve been to Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac countless times (it’s usually just called Les Eyzies, to save wear and tear on keyboards). The village is nestled in the Vézère River valley, known worldwide for its prehistoric caves systems; it’s one of the GDA’s most treasured tourist attractions. We had driven past Les Glycines countless times as well, but had never stopped. In the past, it looked like a large but somewhat tired hotel, dripping with wisteria vines (glycine is French for wisteria). So we never bothered.
But a few months ago, as we drove past, we saw that it had been completely transformed into a modern building, and that workers were scurrying all over it to put on the finishing touches.
So yesterday, as we finished some shopping in Sarlat, I suggested to Jan that we continue another 20 kilometres or so into Les Eyzies, and try the restaurant at Les Glycines. And believe me, we’re delighted that we did.
Because we had left Daglan fairly early that morning, we arrived in Les Eyzies just ahead of lunchtime; it looked like Les Glycines was shut tight. But we stopped and checked, and found an eager staff ready to welcome us. Here’s a view of the renovated structure from the road, looking a bit cold and stiff. (The wisteria hasn’t had time to grow back yet.)
And here’s a view from the front entrance, looking towards the bridge over the river:
Once inside, we were seated in the bistro-style restaurant at the front of the hotel. (The much more formal restaurant, named 1862, is at the rear; I had a peek and thought it looked elegant and refined.) Here’s the view from our table:
Everything about the place struck us as modern, comfortable, refined and well thought out. Staff members were all dressed smartly in black shirts and slacks; the table tops were made of solid wood, and looked quite contemporary; and the menu was attractive and accessible. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the menu du jour — the special daily menu of three courses, for just 16 euros — and the quality of the food.
Jan decided to choose from the à la carte menu, selecting only a main course and a dessert, but I ordered the menu du jour, and started with this asparagus soup:
Then came my plat principal, which was two thick slices of perfectly roasted lamb, studded with pistachios, and served with a savoury sauce and a portion of couscous mixed with herbs. Here it is:
Jan’s main course was gambas, or large shrimp, and she must have said three or four times that they were “perfectly cooked.” (She also had a taste of my lamb and thought it was one of the best lamb dishes she’s ever had.) Here’s her shrimp dish:
For her dessert, Jan had strawberries topped with whipped cream, while I had the classic French dessert called Paris-Brest. This is a round pastry filled with praline-flavoured cream, but the version at Les Glycines had been given a classic Périgord Noir touch with bits of dark-roasted walnuts. Here it is:
Needless to say, we left very happy about the whole experience — and anxious to try the hotel one day. In fact, we both said that we wished we had known about the renovated hotel for our 25th wedding anniversary last month, when we stayed at Le Vieux Logis in Trémolat and were less than impressed with our room there.
Finally, in case you’re wondering about the electrical system upgrade that was the original cause of our Great Escape — apparently it never happened. The lights did flicker a bit around 8:15 a.m., before we left the house, so maybe the EDF workers just pulled a switch and the job was done, without a need for a complete shutdown. Or maybe nothing was done at all. I’m not sure we’ll ever know, but at least we found a new favourite place to visit.