Down through rural France, over the straightest of roads and across the flattest of fields, hides a place where flavour, enjoyment and relaxation are the main event for every guest.
Entering through an iron gate into the B&B’s sun-drenched courtyard in October 2016, we were immediately met by David Tomlins, who appeared under apple trees, wiping his gardeners hands down faded jeans in his shaded garden. We were offered tea and sat in the reflection of this gorgeous converted farmhouse, playing with kittens and settling into two days of some serious R&R.
Renowned for his vegetarian cooking in Cardiff, David and his wife Lorraine upped and left Wales for a life in Chambon, a lovely little village in the Poitou-Charentes region, not far from La Rochelle. The home in which they live and work has been lovingly restored from old farmhouse to luxurious foodie getaway, complete with a kitchen large enough to host cookery classes, garden for al-fresco dining, veggie growing and entertaining, a huge lounge area for pre-dinner drinks and relaxation, communal dining room, three guest bedrooms and two traditional gites for snoozing.
The guest area of Tomlins Vegetarian Guesthouse and B&B may be small, but is perfectly formed and so obviously loved that switching off and falling into a state of relaxation is impossible not to do. Original tiles cover the hallway, wood burners crackle slowly in the shadows and sultry lamps light up rooms where rich sofas beg to swallow you.
And all of that comes before the food.
If you’re a veggie who has travelled to France, you won’t be shy to scoffs and shrugs of distain from waiters when ordering in restaurants, and it is with delicious irony that David cooks such wonderful vegetarian food in such a French part of France.
During our stay, we were the only two people dining and sleeping in David and Lorraine’s gorgeous home, meaning we had an award-winning chef all to ourselves!
Over two days we ate the following, in no particular order:
- Scotch egg with pumpkin seed crust and a sweet mango chutney
- Carrot and apricot terrine with tabbouleh jelly, aubergine purée, yellow pepper pickle and toast
- Baked sweet potato filled with fennel, ginger and apple stuffing, mustard fruits, quinoa granola, roast shallots and cider sauce
- Miso squash dashi broth with udon noodles, bok choy, edamame beans and aduki bean and ginger
- Poached cassis pear with crumble crumbs
- Frozen berries with a chocolate and cranberry crunch and a hot chocolate sauce
Breakfast was a relaxed, gourmet affair which was served up whenever we tumbled down the stairs on both mornings. Fresh fruit and yoghurt, juice, eggs, homemade jams and gorgeous bread were all ready and waiting for us!
How to get there
Tomlins in France are located in what feels like middle-of-nowhere France. You can find a map and directions on this page here. We drove from Brittany, as we were already in France, but flights are available from the UK to La Rochelle, which is just a half hour drive away.
Our room was €75 per night, plus €25 per head for evening meals. Breakfast included and wines are priced by the bottle, however David was happy for us to drink our own when we asked.
Book your stay at Tomlins Vegetarian Guesthouse and B&B here: www.tomlinsinfrance.com.