The Bistrot du Parc, nature and simplicity
Here we are at the Maison du Parc, the administrative centre for the Morvan Regional Natural Park in the French department of Nièvre. This 40-hectare property is used as a place of work and also a visitor's centre for tourists. The Bistrot du Parc is a great social venue that serves as a bar, brasserie and tearoom all rolled into one.
Welcome to the heart of the Morvan!
Around the Bistrot there are gardens, a 'herbularium' which showcases the wild plants of the Morvan, and a lake which was originally intended for floating timber meaning it is a key part of Morvan's economic past, and has also made a significant mark on the landscape. There are also animals here, including a herd of Highland Cattle (actually known as a 'fold') which help to keep the wet meadows maintained. These cows have long woolly coats and large horns that resemble the handlebars of a bike. They are pretty impressive!
From the very beginning, we wanted to work in harmony with our surroundings and make use of local resources.
A place that is firmly rooted to the region
The Bistrot opened in March 2014. The idea was to showcase local products here, with regards the food, as well as the furniture! In Burgundy, there is a wonderful range of products that allow us to offer simple dishes in a friendly and welcoming place.
The tables were made by Pierre Matet, a woodworker from Alligny-en-Morvan, and have a similar design to the traditional farms of the Morvan. I opted for the brand Tolix for the chairs because these modern designs that are sold all over the world are actually made in Autun!
A home-from-home in the Morvan!
For me, the Morvan is a bit like a refuge, a peaceful, friendly and inviting place...
Here, nature can be felt all around and it makes me feel really good! And when I leave the region, I can't wait to get back there. Our lakes are beautiful, our forests are not too vast, and our rivers are small, which means that the whole area isn't overwhelmingly big, and I find that reassuring.
Local and mindful cooking
I love foraging for walnuts, chestnuts and mushrooms when I can follow my sixth sense and find the right places.
The flavours of autumn
The Bistrot provides breakfast and lunch service only, but snacks are available throughout the day!
The menu is very simple, with special diversity linked to the seasons, depending on what the local producers have on offer!
In autumn, as well as the local producers, we can also go and see what we find in the woods, which is really interesting. This season marks a real change in the dishes, which become more substantial with the arrival of autumn flavours.Find out more about the restaurant Le Bistrot du Parc
This is a habit I had before opening the Bistrot! I was already used to buying from local producers from the Morvan and Burgundy, which certainly made life easier.
I always try to choose the products that are the closest, of good quality and from organic farming. It is the products that influence our choices rather than having a ready-made shopping list! We ask the question, “what have you got for us at the moment?” to then ask ourselves, “what are we going to cook this week?”
On Friday mornings, I go to Autun market to see Hugo and Isabelle from the Moulin de la Petite Verrière for their trout, Philippe from the Ferme de Rivaux for the duck. I get cheese from the Ferme des Vignes - GAEC de la Voie Lactée, as they have a great range of goat's cheese, sheep's milk and cow's milk cheeses. I get my fruit and vegetables from Alligny-en-Morvan, and my bread from the bakery in Antigny-la-Ville.
My top priority is to find products from the Morvan, and those that really represent Burgundy, depending on how I intend on using the product.
The number one local dish, the 'crapiaud'
The 'crapiaud' is a traditional dish of the Morvan. We really wanted to be able to add this dish to our menu! It is a dough made from flour, eggs and water, that is left to rise before then being cooked with pieces of bacon that are fried first and then the dough is poured over them. I actually use cured ham!
It is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is also served as part of our 'assiette morvandelle', 100% Morvan, with ham, lettuce, creamy fromage blanc and potatoes. We also have a vegetarian version of this local platter, with delicious seasonal vegetables from my local grocer.
Anne-Sophie will guide you
In the morning, a mist settles in the valleys and above the villages. This creates a fabulous atmosphere that brings with it a touch of magic, mystery and poetry…
Autumn, when the senses are awakened
For me, autumn is officially upon us when the autumn colours arrive, along with the wind, blowing leaves, the rivers become rougher, and the waters of the lakes are higher. There is also a general atmosphere of peace, as if nature was getting ready to rest. During this season, time begins to slow down, the days are longer, but we also learn to enjoy every moment just that little bit more.
An autumn walk...
In autumn, I always go to Mont Beuvray, to walk through the beech forests and admire the magnificent view. In Uchon, if you walk through the woodland, and then past the lake, there's a 180° view of the Morvan. I also enjoy walking along the fortifications in Vézelay where, at this time of year, all the walnut trees have lost their leaves. An unmissable sight! Over in Cure valley, the river is surrounded by rocks and this produces an impressive, yet calming sound.