Restaurants in Montreuil-Bellay (10 minutes away): Said to be one of the most beautiful villages in the Loire, this is a great place to go for a meal ten minutes away. These restaurants are better for their ambience than really high quality food, but they are nevertheless a lot of fun, and worth going to.
1) La Grange à Dime: a single menu for around 22 euros including apèro and a half bottle of read wine per person. 4 course meal with traditional local foods: rilletts (a type of shredded pork belly made into a type of paté), duck and beans, local cheese and desert, set in a 15th century building. No outdoor seating. Here is a great article about the restaurant, its cuisine, and restaurants like it in the area.
2) Barbazon: The restaurant/café in the main square across from the castle. The best thing to do here is to have lunch or dinner on a sunny day in the outdoor terrace. Good for coffee or a glass of wine.
3) Auberge des Isles: Go on a sunny day to eat on the terrace under the trees next to the river. It is the first right as you go across the Thouet River from the north. Proceed under the old stone arch about 200 meters to the west below the castle.
Restaurants in Doué la Fontaine (10 minutes away):
1) Beinvenu: This is a Michelin rated Bib Gourmand (excellent food at a lower cost). The food is traditional French in a somewhat formal atmosphere. Near the Doué zoo. 3 courses for around 30 euros.
2) Dogobert: In the hotel in the middle of Doué is good quality, but quiet.
3) Troglodyte: There is an underground restaurant on the northeast side of Doué just west of the Quincallerie Douessine (hardware store). The entire area is full of gigantic caves, so these underground experiences can be quite interesting. Some would say to go here for a drink to enjoy the ambience, rather than for dinner.
4) Chez Paul: This is not gourmet dining, but it is a French truck stop experience: 11 euros for a 4-course lunch and all of the wine that you want. Go on a weekday when the place is packed. On the round-about on the southeast side of the town.
Gennes (20 minutes away):
There is a high quality, but moderately expensive restaurant in Gennes just before you go north across the Loire.
Les Rosiers (25 minutes away): North of the Loire from Gennes, proceed north through Les Rosiers. About 3 or 4 kilometers north on the east side is a non-descript restaurant that serves large portions of good food at reasonable prices. Reservations can be required, especially on Sunday at noon.
Fontevraud (30 minutes away): After visiting France’s largest Abbey, you have the choice of two good restaurants:
1) Licorne: a Michelin 1-star restaurant with a wonderful ambience
2) Le Delice: to the north of the abbey towards Montreseau. You can eat 3 courses for about 17 euros. Have the Merange Suedois (sp?, kind of a Baked Alaska) for desert.
Saumur (25 minutes away):
1) Café de la Place: Our favorite place for enjoying a meal outside in the center of Saumur. The wine selection is good, and the food is well-prepared bistro fare. There is jazz on occasion. It is located on the north side Place St. Pierre, the main public square in Saumur by the big church. We usually go here when we can eat outside. It is also fun in the bar downstairs on a cooler day. We do not like to heat upstairs. The carafe wine is good.
2) Le Grand Bleu: A good place for seafood in Saumur. There is outdoor seating. The mussels and fries are about 10 euros. There is a big mixed seafood plate at a reasonable price. Good selection of local wines. The carafe win is good for the money, muscadet or local Saumur white.
3) Le Pot de Lapin: This is to the east of the central village below and to the east of the castle. It is out of the way. The food is good quality for the money. Nice ambience inside.
4) Gambetta: For the splurge, this is a higher quality restaurant with a more contemporary menu.
5) Casual Cafés: The three cafés on the west side of the north-south main street are good for casual fare, and outdoor dining.
a) Brussels: Moulles are good
b) Second cafe to the south: omelets, salads, etc.
c) Third café on the south corner: coffee and free Wi-Fi access.
6) Very Informal French: There is a restaurant to the west of the movie theatre along the south side of the Loire River. There is no name. They do not take reservations. Go on Saturday about 11:45 so that you can get in. You eat whatever they are serving. Very inexpensive. This is not gourmet dining, but we are told that it is fun.
7) Other Restaurants in Saumur: We have not tried Escargot, or the fancy restaurant directly below the castle, but we are told that they are good, but expensive. The fancy one below the castle is busy and requires reservations. Also, we have not tried the restaurants facing to the north on the Loire on the north side of central Saumur by the parking lot. There is a lot of good outdoor seating here.
8) Coffee on Market Day: We go to the Butterfly. Many locals here.
Montsoreau: Besides some good restaurants in this village, there is a wonderful place for coffee above the chateau. Walk or drive up the hill in the village to the hotel on your right. On your left is a parking area and café overlooking the chateau and the river.
Angers (45 minutes):
1) Autour d’un Cep: One of our favorite restaurants for the money. About a 30 euro menu, with excellent wine selection, and pastry chef. Informal. Small. Located on the first street in from the river.
2) Chateau Angers: We are told that there is a nice and reasonably priced restaurant in the chateau. The last that we checked, you could get into the restaurant without paying the chateau entrance fee, then see the outstanding medieval tapestry museum. You would need to make reservations for this, and the deal may still not be on.
Loire River (30 minutes): There are quite a number of good restaurants on the south side of the Loire River between Saumur and Montreseau.
Oiron (30 minutes away): In the village of Oiron, near the beautiful chateau, which contains a good and large modern art exhibition, there is a good quality restaurant where you can get a three course meal for about 17 euros.
Chinon (50 minutes away):
1) Café de la Place on the village square. Low cost and good outdoor seating.
2) Other Chinon Restaurants: There are some excellent restaurants in Chinon, many more expensive.
Chateaux Restaurants: There are wonderful restaurants in the villages and towns near many of the chateaux. Amboise, Chenencou, and Azay-Lay-Rideau are a few examples.
Thouars (20 minutes):
Restaurant Pompeau: High quality. Come to splurge. The servers are very well trained, but with some form of handicap. Classic French. On the north side of the city.
Loudin (45 minutes):
Tresor Belge: If you like Belgian beer. About 15 minutes south of Loudin on the road to Poitiers.