Restaurant Review – 'La Voile Bleue', Les Halles, Angoulème, France.
By long-established family tradition, we enjoy regular holidays in the backwaters of the Dordogne which provides a great location for swimming in freshwater lakes, cycling (Le Tour graced the village this summer, although Mark Cavendish won't have fond recollections of that) and al fresco dining. Croquet (the most vicious of games), cards, boules and sampling a diverse range of wines are also popular pastimes.
The nearest train station of any significance is in Angoulême, a town I like the more I get to know it, that is immortalised in the terrific 'The French Dispatch'. It is about an hour's drive there and, inevitably, the arrival of friends and family members entails trips to collect or dispatch them. It therefore became important to identify a convenient lunchtime hostelry for pre- or post-travel fortification. Par hasard we stumbled across 'La Voile Bleu' in 'Les Halles', in the center of town a few summers ago and it now a keenly-anticipated pit stop.
'Les Halles' is a restored indoor market place that is exemplary in many ways. I could happily spend a couple of hours perusing its many food-orientated delights. 'La Voile Bleu' is a busy and buzzing open plan restaurant that serves (very) fresh seafood and excellent frites that are made on site daily. The aimable patron is eagle-eyed and attentive and he runs a very tight ship. The focus here is principally on moules-frites that come in generous and inexpensive portions and are absolutely delicious. There is a wine list but I copied a regular (as I often do) and ordered a blanc sec which was just the ticket so I haven't ventured further. They also sell a creditable fruits de mer but the mussels are the main draw so that it was I tend to go for.
The clientele are largely well-heeled professionals who sport enviably high-end glasses and haircuts and descend in considerable numbers. At weekends particularly, demand can outstrip supply, so it can do no harm to arrive early and nurse an apero.
So, if you are heading to the Charente and need to refuel, I highly recommend 'La Voile Bleu'. If you have children to entertain afterwards, I also recommend the Musée de la Bande Dessinée for a feast of Lucky Luke, Tintin, Asterix and Corto Maltese.