Over the past 20 or so years, I guess we have had about 15 holidays in France and I must have visited the country at least 30 time on business. When we first went there, we were absolutely knocked out by the food – so different and so much better from what was available in Thatcher’s Britain and, in spite of the poor exchange rate, relatively cheap.
Over the years, things have changed. The quality of food in Scotland (and across Britain) has increased dramatically and, I’m sad to say, the quality of French food has declined. There are now too many mediocre restaurants selling run of the mill food – I’m sure that expensive Michelin star French restaurants are inventive but everyday restaurants seem stuck in a rut.
If you are prepared to pay French prices in Scotland, with a little care, you will eat better. A couple of examples: we ate in La Tour des Vents – a Michelin star restaurant near Bergerac. Superb food but the fixed price menu was €42 for lunch; but Martin Wishart in Leith (also Mich *) has a fixed price lunch for £28.50 and I think his cooking is more interesting. We also ate in La Taverne in Aubeterre – moules frite for €7.50; but the moules in The Marine Hotel (see last blog post) in Stonehaven for roughly the same price were far superior.
Of course, what the French don’t have is very cheap food as we have- you can’t get lunch for £3.99 – typically, you will pay at least £10. Nor are there (as far as I know), abominations such as deep-fried Mars bars.
There’s still lots of mediocrity in Scotland and sadly, much more of it in France than there used to be. But I’m now convinced that, at the same price level, you are more likely to get an excellent meal in Scotland than you are in France.