Today’s restaurant review is one of those hidden gems that surprise and delight you. Auberge de l’Abbaye was completely unexpected as was the village it’s located in.
One of the wonderful things about living where I do in rural France is that there always seems to be something new to discover.
Many times I’ve driven down the N10 towards Angouleme and seen the signpost for Saint-Amant-de-Boixe. It’s one of those brown signs indicating a historic monument, in this case, a very old Abbey.
I’d not really taken much notice before because these sorts of signs are everywhere in the Charente.
But recently I’ve been on a mission to find out more about my local history. And when I say local I mean within 30 minutes.
I know quite a bit of this history surrounding towns like Bordeaux, Cognac, La Rochelle and other touristy places like that. But not so much about the villages on my doorstep.
And oh my goodness, was it ever worth taking notice of that brown sign and taking ourselves off for lunch there one Sunday.
Sunday lunch in Saint-Amant-de-Boixe
The day we went was a beautiful clear day in March. The sky was cloudless and the sun was warm. We parked in the town square opposite the Marie and next to the Abbey, which is steeped in history.
Apparently, the abbey owes its origins to a hermit known as Amant who lived in the forest of La Boixe. Legend has it that Amant was a healer who performed several miracles earning him the title of Saint Amant.
It’s said that when the abbey was completed around 1170 his bones were moved and buried deep within the new abbey.
I spent a bit of time in the abbey and even though it was lovely and warm outside, inside the abbey, it was freezing. It makes you wonder how the people spent as much time in there as they did all those years ago.
Many abbeys during the middle ages were used as a refuge for pilgrims. And during big religious celebrations, families would sleep on the abbey floor on a bed of straw, complete with the livestock.
Takes some thinking about, doesn’t it?
What did I think of Auberge de l'Abbaye, Saint-Amant-de-Boixe?
Sat directly opposite the Abbey, the name literally translates as the Abbey Inn. From the front of the building, I wasn’t hopeful as it looked a bit like an old run-down house.
We then spotted a sign telling us to enter around the side through some gates.
Then things changed. There was a lovely little terrace which would be perfect for al fresco dining in the summer.
As you walked in you got more of an idea of the size of the place. There was a large empty dining area, and we were shown through into a smaller, more intimate space.
It’s always a good sign when a room is full of French people happily enjoying their Sunday meal.
There was a lovely atmosphere and, there was some funky lighting hanging from the wooden roof. All along the walls were vintage-style objects from clocks to pictures.
Our table was by the window, and we could see the abbey as we looked out.
What was on the menu at Auberge de l'Abbaye?
For once, we didn’t opt for a starter. Most French restaurants like this bring you amuse bouche (bite-sized appetizers). Anyway, I was more interested in dessert.
As I looked at the menu, I was impressed to read all their products were sourced locally.
And they’d been listed in the Michelin Green Guide since 2021.
For once, hubby and I ordered different dishes. I opted for Emincé de magret de canard rôti, jus truffé, purée (Sliced roasted duck breast, truffle gravy, mashed potatoes).
Hubby opted for Agneau confit 7 h, mogettes et champignons (Lamb confit, white beans and mushrooms).
I have to say my duck was to die for and as for the gravy, I can’t find the words to describe just how good it was.
Of course, I had to try some of hubbies too. And whilst it was good, I was glad I’d chosen the duck. Just a personal choice.
I was a little disappointed in my dessert, the Crème brûlée à la vanille de Bourbon. The caramelised sugary topping tasted burnt, spoiling it a little, as the rest was nice.
Hubby went for the Tiramisu de ma grand-mère italienne and loved it.
How did we rate Auberge de l'Abbaye?
I’d definitely go back, only this time I’d like to go in the summer to enjoy the outside terrace.
The service was excellent, and I really couldn’t fault it. The only thing for me that let it down was the burnt taste on my Crème brûlée.
I tried a lovely local rose wine from an organic vineyard based here in the Charente, Olivier SEGUIN.
The Charente has such excellent wines which aren’t talked about enough. I recently wrote an article about The Undiscovered Wine Region of Poitou-Charente.
Check out our review card below, and remember, if you have a gite or restaurant you’d like us to review, drop us a line using the form on our Contact Page.
And don’t forget to check out our other restaurant reviews our most recent are:
To make a reservation at Auberge de l’Abbaye click here