Restaurant Talk

Here are the Rules

Any restaurant recommended or even up for discussion on this page must fit into one of three categories:

A: It is within walking distance of where your boat is moored

B: It is within cycling distance of where your boat is moored

C: It is a short drive/taxi/row from where your boat is moored

I realise that deciding whether it is a long walk or a short taxi ride from your boat to the restaurant under consideration, is dependent upon a whole load of factors - age and physical ability being but two. Just try to give some indication, in time or distance, as to how far away it was from where you have moored.

If you are not on a boat but do have a restaurant you want to say something about, it must be near a navigable waterway and you need to give an accurate description of where it can be found.

State clearly restaurant location, with telephone number and email/website addresses (if they have them)

Briefly in an e-mail tell me what’s good about them i.e. food - innovative, traditional, good value. Decent wine list or good basic house wine, service - friendly or fussy, etc.,etc. If you have a niggle, then share that too.

I hope, collectively, we can build a data base of waterside restaurants. And as time goes on, and if it works, to rationalise the format, making it easier to find listed restaurants near where you happen to be.

Places mentioned below are all in France unless otherwise stated, and are listed alphabetically.



The Port of Calais is not somewhere you are ever likely to cruise with your barge other than as an entry/exit port but it is a place that many of us with homes in the UK and barges in mainland Europe pass through by car with monotonous regularity. We rarely get near the sea with Friesland so I look forward, particularly, to that last fishy dinner before we catch the ferry and head for home.

Le Detroit, 7, Boulevard de la Résistance, Calais

tél: 03 21 34 43 10


We have never had a duff meal here. The fish is always fresh; so fresh in fact that someone will bring a selection of fish to your table for you to choose your dinner from. The standard fruits de mer is excellent value and I am always drawn toward a favourite dish: skate wings cooked in black butter and served with capers. They speak good English and are open every day except Monday.

Le Grand Bleu, Quai de la Colonne, Calais

tél: 03 21 97 97 98

Pleasant modern restaurant just opposite the quay where the local fishing boats unload their catch and within a stone’s throw of the ferry terminus. We enjoyed an excellent lunch here. Chef has a sense of humour and likes colourful puds. The fish is a delight.


Nowhere near a canal I’m afraid but not too far from Calais. Worth a detour if you are coming to or from your barge and UK by car. Become a member of The Wine Society -  - and you can buy infinitely better wine at their outlet at Montreuil than from any wine warehouse around Calais. if your car is already well loaded they will even arrange delivery to wherever you are going in France though they don’t guarantee to meet you at a lock in the middle of nowhere!

Froggy’s Tavern, 51 bis, Place Général de Gaulle, 62170 Mentreuil-sur-Mer

tel: 0033 (0)3 21 86 72 32   

Simple fairly meaty (as in meat) cooking in attractive no-frills setting. Summer eating in the courtyard. The kitchen at Froggy’s dishes up inexpensive platefuls of skilfully cooked food. High standards in a relaxed setting overseen by owner/chef at nearby Michelin starred Auberge de la Grenouillère. The wine list is well-chosen with wines clearly carefully sourced. A complementary aperitif awaits you if you are a Wine Society member.

Canal Latéral à l’Aisne - junction with Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne


La Côte108, 1,rue du Colonel-Vergzac, Berry au Bac

tel: 03 23 79 83 50    

A. Just a short walk from either lock. The restaurant is on the main N-44 in the direction of Reims. Now with two rooms - one with a Gastro menu and the other the considerably cheaper Bistro menu, the food offered at Côte 108 is serious. The chef, formerly at the French Embassy in Washington, is well-travelled and it shows in the sophistication of his dishes. No fusion food here though, he makes the most of local produce, producing light novel and modern versions of some old favourites.

Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne


Brasserie du Boulingrin, 48, rue du Mars, 51100 Reims

tel: 03 26 40 96 22

A. About 15-20 minutes walk from the canal. Old established brasserie close to the soon to be re-opened covered food market. This place is hugely popular with the locals serving not only traditional brasserie favourites but also lots of modern takes on old favourites. Enormous range of champagnes as one would expect with many available by the glass and reasonably priced. In spite of its enormous size - able to take 125 covers - it is still as well to book especially at the week-end.  

Canal Latéral à la Marne


Les Temps Changent, 1, rue Garinet, 51000 Chalons-en-Champagne

tel: 03 26 66 41 09

A. Maybe 10-15 minutes walk from the canal if you have moored by the island just above the lock. This relaxed little restaurant in the centre of town is an offshoot of the rather more formal Michelin starred restaurant Jacky Michel at the Hotel d’Angleterre. The dishes are stylish, modern, tasty and substantial. And great value. The wines, although there is not a great range, are cheap, cheerful and more than good enough.

Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne (formerly Canal de la Marne à la Saône)


Lock 26, rue de la Levée de Loutre

  1. A.The former lock-keeper’s cottage, open as a restaurant midday and evenings. A small oasis on a stretch of canal between Langres and the Saône which is devoid of anywhere to buy provisions or eat out. Simple food using local ingredients including cheese from the goat farm across the road (Ferme du clos Thomas, open for visits and sales 16.30 - 20.00hrs)

Canal de la Marne au Rhin (Est)


Needless to say Strasbourg is packed with restaurants and I have no doubt that we missed out on many really good ones. Listed below are ones visited personally.

L’Escale aux Quais, 2,quai Finkwiller, 67000 Strasbourg

tel: 03 88 37 32 34

A/B. This small, upstairs restaurant was not too far from where we were moored in Strasbourg. It was reasonably priced with an excellent wine list. We had lunch there. The food was modern. Well worth a visit but I wouldn’t rave about it.


Restaurant Staeffele, 1, rue Poincaré, 67700 Saverne

tel: 03 88 91 63 94

A.    Well-established restaurant serving skilfully cooked and interesting combinations of food. It was reasonably expensive but worth the price. An excellent list of Alsace wines, but not cheap. I would expect their house wine to be of good quality. I would go there again.


Chez Victor

A. Sorry, no info regarding contacting but it is just across the road from the Port de Plaisance in Toul. You need to head towards the station. This was a pleasant and unpretentious little restaurant. It was also extremely good value and the house wine was fine. 

Canal de St. Quentin


Le Petit Chef, 1, Rue des Docks, 59400, Cambrai

tél: 03 27 81 47 46

A. If you wanted a restaurant within a stone’s throw of where you moor your boat, then this is exactly the sort of place you would choose. Situated on the corner of the street, opposite the carpark and the basin of the Port de Plaisance, the Dessailly family have been running this restaurant for more than 30 years. Madame Dessailly and her sister are front of house, while Monsieur is in the kitchen. They serve tasty well-cooked traditional food which continues to keep the locals happy, but Chef Dessailly’s repertoire extends some way beyond this. You will always get a good meal here at a very reasonable price. It’s not Haut Cuisine by any means but you could eat at Le Petit Chef most nights of the week without getting bored. Wine list is very limited but not expensive.    

Au Fil de l’Eau, 1, Boulevard Dupleix, 59400 Cambrai

tél: 03 27 74 65 31

A. This restaurant is close to Selles lock, the next lock downhill from the Port de Plaisance in Cambrai and if you have moored in the Port, is just a short walk down the towpath. You could if you wanted moor right outside it. It’s bright and cheerful looking with a slightly fishy theme. This is because the chef is really a very good fish cook, though there are always several meat dishes available too. The menu du marché, which is chalked up on the ardois and changes each day, is not only very good value but always delicious with innovative starters and puds. Don’t get excited about the wine although it is reasonably priced.

Closed all day Monday, Sunday and Wednesday evenings.

The Jolly Sailor, 11, rue de Douai, 59400 Cambrai

tél: 03 27 81 29 66

A. Walk down the towpath as instructed above for Au Fil de l’Eau. When you get to Selles lock, turn left over the bridge and 100 yards or so will bring you to The Jolly Sailor. This may be the only restaurant that I will ever recommend where you are not going primarily for the food. Don’t get me wrong, the food is good enough, although to my mind there is only a reasonably ok home cook in the kitchen, not a chef. Stick with the tarte Maroilles starter and the casserole-type dishes on the menu and you will get a decent and inexpensive dinner. 

The ambience of The Jolly Sailor is great. The restaurant has an old-fashioned feel to it and David and Alain, the owners, are great hosts. David will entertain you at the piano but not for too long or too loudly. For a convivial evening in an Anglo-French atmosphere, this place comes highly recommended.

Le Bistrot du Boucher, 1-3, rue Sadi Carnot, 59400, Cambrai

tel: 03 27 78 77 38

A. This restaurant is a few minutes walk from the port in the direction of the town centre. Just beyond the church of St.Géry and before you arrive in the main square itself there is a small roundabout. On the corner is a pharmacy. Turn left there and you will see the Bistrot du Boucher more or less in front of you, beyond the roundabout and on the next corner. Although the restaurant is part of a franchise and the menu is determinedly meaty do give it a try. It has the merit of being open every day of the week and is a real haven if you are looking to eat out on a Sunday or Monday evening when almost everywhere else is closed. The chef gets creative on the ardoise - this is the hand-written blackboard of his specials for the day and is always pretty good. The prices are set for a two or three course meal and are very reasonable. This is beer country so don’t expect too much from the wine list though it’s basically OK for simple drinking. Service is quick, efficient and friendly with some English spoken.

River Meuse (Belgium)


Cuisinémoi, 44 rue Notre-Dame, Namur

tel: 081 22 91 81

  1. A.From where we moored on the long river frontage on the rive gauche it was a fairly short walk past the end of the citadel towards the town to the restaurant - no more than 10 minutes. See my blog ‘A Longer Stay in Belgium’ for a detailed critique.  Longer Stay blog

River Meuse (France)


Giv’ & Mouettes, 2, Quai des Fours, Givet

tel: 03 24 40 41 71

  1. A.Facing the river this open-all-day brasserie is an off-shoot of L’Auberge de la Tour, the somewhat more sophisticated restaurant next door. Our meal of moules and chips was simple but perfectly cooked, very tasty and good value. Wine list was limited but again what there was, was well chosen and priced. The place is colourful, modern and unpretentious. Had the weather been better we would have enjoyed our meal on the terrace beside the river.

River Sambre (Belgium)


Cité d’Athenès, 246 Route de Châtelet, Couillet

tél: 071/47 58 58

  1. C.This is a car/taxi ride of about 15 minutes drive from Pont-de-Loup; a little less if you have managed to stop at Chåtelet. This is a good family run Greek restaurant which, judging by the Sunday lunch crowd, caters well and faithfully for the local Greek immigrant population. The mezze as a starter is almost a meal in itself and the various barbecued meat mains come in big sizes. We enjoyed eating here. The staff were friendly and the patron spoke English well. The Greek wine was excellent and the food good, traditional and very tasty. It is the best restaurant we found that was reasonably close to Vankerkovens. 

River Saône


Tokyo Restaurant Japonais, 3bis rue René Cassin, Chalon

tél: 03 85 48 20 88

A.This is a big bold brash Japanese restaurant located at the Centre Commercial just a stone’s throw from the Port de Plaisance in Chalon. The food is serve-yourself from a big selection of freshly cooked and constantly replenished dishes. Eat as much as you like for around 14 euros and stick to drinking water. Great for lunch; no need to book but best to get there early. It is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.


Le Carafé, 15 rue St Nizier, Mâcon

tél: 06 85 85 14 58

  1. A.Close to the church and a few minutes walk up rue Rameau from the pontoon moorings. This little bistro has some great wines and serves light and inexpensive meals at lunchtime. The dishes chef-owner Patrick Piguet creates are definitely not run-of-the-mill. I wish his menu was longer. The wine list chalked up on the blackboard on the wall is extensive and carefully chosen. We have seen local growers in there checking out the opposition. It’s small so best to book.  


Restaurant du Commerce, 5, Place Joubert, Pont de Vaux

tel: 03 85 30 30 56

  1. A.A short walk from the port de plaisance, this hotel/restaurant has been housing and feeding weary travellers for more than 100 years. The current chef is somewhat younger than this but is following in the footsteps of a long line of chefs producing classic Burgundian food. He brings a light touch to the region’s cuisine. We enjoyed our visit and will certainly return. Service was friendly but efficient. Wonderful local wines at reasonable prices. Closed Mondays and Wednesdays. 


Le Bourgogne, 37 rue du Docteur Privey, 71700 Tournus

tél: 03 85 51 12 23

A. This restaurant is an easy walk from either the quay or the pontoon moorings in Tournus. Head up into the centre of town and ask anyone - everyone knows it. Here is the best traditional Burgundy cuisine you are going to eat anywhere, cooked to absolute perfection, generously served, and at incredibly reasonable prices. If you’ve never eaten it before try oeufs en meurette, that unlikely combination of eggs and red wine, here. And if you like your food earthy don’t miss the pieds de porc.  This restaurant is small and very popular. Best to book.

Restaurant Meulien, 1 bis avenue des Alpes, 71700 Tournus

tél: 03 85 51 20 86  email

A. He’s got his well deserved Michelin star now, and although prices have understandably crept up there is still a 39 euro menu. Food is delicious and different, eclectic and amusing. Go there as soon as you can. It’s a short walk from both Tournus town quay or the pontoon moorings. Cross the old bridge, walking away from the town and it’s a couple of hundred metres along the road on the left. Best to book.

River Seille

La Truchère

L’Escale, Promenade du Barrage, 7i290 La Truchère

tél: 03 85 51 23 00

  1. A.   L’Escale at La Truchère is never going to be renowned for fine dining - that’s not what it is about. It’s mid-Summer, you’ve arrived by boat and luckily have found somewhere to tie up. The evening is balmy, no-one feels like cooking or strolling too far in search of dinner. And you just want something simple and uncomplicated to eat. Look along the road from where you are moored and you will spot a couple of restaurants. Of the first, L’Auberge de la Grenouilliere, I have nothing to tell you. A few yards further along is L’Escale. It is almost completely open air with a terrace outside over-looking the Seille and an interior that is also more-or-less outside but with a waterproof roof covering. The owners are friendly and cheerful and the clientele a good mix of locals and holiday-makers - also friendly and cheerful. The food is simple, inexpensive Burgundian food, as is the wine. Try the freshly caught river fish, particularly the friture. It is best to book ahead as it does get very busy in the Summer.

River Seine


Chez Michel, 10, rue de Belzunce, Paris 75010

tel: 01 44 53 06 20

Now a very well-established restaurant not far from the Gare du Nord, we first ate there many years ago. Always busy so best to book, the service at times is a little abrupt, nevertheless the food is excellent and servings generous. Chef/owner Thierry Breton takes his homely Normandy dishes and tweaks them into something else.


Chez Marianne, 2 rue des Hospitalières Saint Gervais (on the corner with rue des Rosiers), Paris 75004, tel +33 (0)142 721886

We have always enjoyed our visits to this restaurant in the Jewish quarter. Choose your meal from a selection  of 26 different Sephardic salads of peppers, aubergines, falafel, koftas etc. Mop it all up with the freshly made pitta bread and round it off with sweet baclava and kaddifi pastries. Service is fast and efficient. Wine selection good. This is a restaurant that is always open and always busy, and with a great atmosphere. 

And OK, to get there you do need something a bit more substantial than a bike - try the metro instead

River Thames (UK)


Cocum, 20 Bridge Road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, Surrey  KT8 9HA

tel: 020 8941 3540 or 020 8979 1531   

  1. A. One thing we miss in France is genuine Indian cuisine, and we make it a priority each time we return to the UK to rectify this. I recommended Palavi, the Kerala (SW India) restaurant in Twickenham on here, and it promptly ceased trading. A colleague suggested an alternative, at Hampton Court.
    We’ve now eaten at Cocum a couple of times, and it is probably even better. There are still the impeccably cooked village dishes, with a really delicate touch, but also a handful of what I take to be more modern interpretations such as a delicious mussel olathiyathu - marinated mussels stir fried in corn flour batter. Cocum is five minutes walk from Molesey Lock.

If you get really into the taste of SW Indian cuisine you could even visit Kerala itself, where there is a large network of canals used by 24m wooden “rice barges” known as kettuvallam, now predominantly for carrying tourists.


Petersham Nurseries Café, Church Lane (off Petersham Road), Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7AB.

tel: 020 8940 5230

B/C Still true to its original premise that the menu is predicated upon ‘what’s growing in the garden‘ - fresh, seasonal  and, ideally, locally sourced, the Café continues to serve simple yet inspirational Italianate dishes. Damian Clisby has seamlessly taken over from Skye Gingell and to eat his food in the unconventional setting of a garden nursery is a real treat. Not cheap but worth it.

Open for lunch only every day except Monday. Booking advisable especially week-ends. 

Isle of Skye (Scotland)


The Three Chimneys, Colbost House, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye IV55 8ZT

tel: 0044 (0)1470 511258

  1. C.We ate a wonderful meal here. The staff were properly trained (which is not always the case in even the best

of UK restaurants) and the wine waiter knowledgeable and helpful (and Finnish, to boot). The restaurant was comfortable with a relaxed ambience. Not cheap obviously, but well worth every penny.

I was unable to take any photos as the light was not good enough for non-flash but if you do want to know more before trudging all the way to Skye this website: has an in-depth review of the restaurant with lots of great pictures.


The Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant, Stein, Waternish, Isle of Skye, IV55 8GA

tel: 0044 (0)1470 592235

  1. C.We had a warm welcome from owners David and Alison Wilkinson: David cooks and Alison looks after the

customers and both do what they have been doing for the last 14 years superbly well. The restaurant, though small, is comfortable and uncrowded and the atmosphere relaxed. Our meal was delicious with the seafood allowed to shine. The hand-dived scallops are from Sconsar; the mussels from Arisaig; the lobsters from Neist Point, Milovaig and Little Minch; the prawns from Loch Bay itself; all are locally sourced and could not be better or fresher. Everything including the delicious bread and brilliant puds is made on the premises. The wine list is thoughtful and both food and drink not hugely expensive.

Booking is essential and should probably be made a few weeks before you actually visit Skye.

Isle of Majorca (Spain)

Simply Fosh, Carrer de la Missió, 7a, Palma, Majorca

tel: +34 (0)971 72 01 14

This is an elegant modern but friendly restaurant in the centre of old Palma. Inventive cheffery does not come particularly cheap but for a special meal it takes some beating.

Tasca de Blanquerna, Calle Blanquera 6, Palma. Majorca

tel: +34 (0)971 29 01 08

Same owners as Simply Fosh but very different food. This is an excellent tapas restaurant and bar. A big selection of tapas, inexpensive and quickly served. Good wine, moderately priced.

Hotel Portixol, Calle Sirena 27, Palma, Majorca

tel: +34 (0)971 27 18 00

This hotel restaurant is just 10 minutes drive from the airport, situated beside the small marina as one leaves Palma. The food is fusion cooking at its best, light and clean-tasting featuring lots of lemon grass and ginger. It has been our grand-daughter’s favourite restaurant since she was 5 years old and therefore half her lifetime so comes highly recommended.

Restaurant Santi Tauri, Carrer Guillem Santandreu, 38 Lloseta, Majorca

tel: +34 (0)971 51 46 22

It’s an open secret that this is a great little restaurant worth seeking out. Don’t go there on spec though. There is usually a three month waiting list to get a table, and this is in the Winter. The food is special, the wine list full of Majorquian gems and the whole meal remarkably inexpensive.

Bunker’s, Calle Soler esq. Calle Pursiana, Palma, Majorca

tel: +34 (0)349 71 220 504

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