UPDATE – all my love to the French and those who have suffered in Paris this weekend. Lots of hugs, prayers and reflection. It’s time to stop the hate.
Two of the memorable stops on the cruise were Antwerp, famous for its chocolate shops every two steps, and Honfleur, a cute French harbourside village in Normandy. For both of these locations we had half a day to explore so not as much details as the the Amsterdam post but I hope you find it useful nevertheless.
SHOP They don’t open until post 10am here but once they do you have your choice of plenty of chocolate from stores run by local families. We made a lot of purchases at tried and tested Elisa Pralines which has over 40 handmade chocolates and a candied fruit range which is less common in this area. She also stocks various artisan Antwerp brands including hot drinking chocolate sachets from Cafe-Tasse. I remember skiing in Switzerland when I was little, ordering a hot chocolate for morning tea that came as a mug of warmed milk that you poured a sachet of chocolate into. It was so delicious and fun so I am looking forward to a warm, cosy night to try this one. Perhaps next to a log fire! The other chocolate shop we visited was The Chocolate Line which is the brain child of Dominique Persoone, who is part of the Fat Duck think tank, which means he regularly bounces ideas around with Heston Bluenthal and El Bulli. I was so excited in this shop as the chocolate smell hit me when I entered and there are so many wonderful artistic chocolate pieces to look at as well as products to buy! The best chocolate I bought had a biscuit base with a round marshmallow top that had all been dipped in chocolate. As you bit into this treat the marshmallow melted in your mouth creating a taste sensation mixed with the fresh biscuit and quality chocolate. Unfortunately these treats sucked me in and I didn’t think to take a picture before I ate them all (5)! Dominique also does fun bits to take home to friends including chocolate lipstick and chocolate pills!
EAT I spotted a few places you can enjoy when you visit Antwerp. Salads, wraps and sandwiches can be bought at Sebastien who pride themselves in making fresh unprocessed offerings daily. They also have a variety of juices and fruit cups. Coffeelabs is the place to go for your breakfast and their vegan scone with soy yogurt and home made jam will set you up for the day! Try a traditional waffle from The Smallest Waffle Shop in the World! Their waffles are half the size of others which I liked and the price reflects the smaller sizes. We had an early afternoon snack and beer at Bier Central that has over 300 bottled beers and 24 on draft. A visit to their bathrooms is well worth it to see the complexity of the beer lines! Also they have a cute, couples seating area at the back made of beer barrels that you can sit in for a meal. For our lunch we went to a brasserie called Appelmens to also try their extensive absinthe based cocktail list.
PLAY We weren’t in Antwerp for very long but we did decide to visit the zoo! So much fun and for anyone who prefers to see animals in the open this zoo is perfect for you. Lots of care has been taken to enhance the animals welfare and they have my favourites penguins!!
This the most beautiful French village I have seen and there were plenty of opportunities for beautiful images. All I need to do is encourage you to explore the cobbled streets for shopping, crepe eating, and visit the church as inside it looks like an upside down boat hull. For dinner we went to La Tortue and had a choice from their a la carte menu of the number of dishes we wanted to eat and pay for. They have a set menu but you can chose how many of the six courses you want to eat. I had the foie gras for my starter which melted in my mouth and a generous portion of duck for my main, with fresh vegetables to accompany. Those within our party who had the cheese plate were very satisfied with the three varieties offered that were progressively smellier and sharper in taste! Next door to La Tortue is L’Homme de Bois which is a seafood based menu and is also regularly booked out. Both restaurants were recommended by a local who I spoke to in broken French as he parked his car. I think he thought I was a bit crazy but I was determined to eat as locally as possible!
Have you visited Antwerp or Honfleur? What do you love about France? Do you have a favourite crepe topping? Mine is banana and Nutella!