Half Board or not in France

Apr 1st, 2008, 05:39 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Half Board or not in France

An earlier poster brought to mind a question I have re: whether to do "demi-pension" during our trip through the "backroads" of France. We will be staying 2-3 days in each of several places in the Loire and Dordogne areas, mostly in mid-range places, including some Logis de France hotels. Is the "demi-pensions" generally a better dinner option, after allowing for the included breakfast net costs? Or do you get some really mediocre meals? Depends on the place?

Thanks for your assistance.
cmenoni is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:41 PM
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Depends on the place.
janisj is online now  
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:53 PM
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I would skip it. The only time we took the demi we regretted it. There is a special menu (this was in a gourmand place with nice resto) and they did not allow substitutions. Of course you had the option to buy off the regular menu but you still had to pay the demi-p fare if you had taken breakfast on the plan. The regular menu always looked better. And sometimes we just felt like grabbing a quick bite at a cafe.

I think it makes sense if you're going to a resort destination or someplace where there's not a lot of eating options nearby.
Linda431 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 06:51 PM
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my response meant it really totally does depend on the place and w/o know which hotels you are talking about how can anyone give you advice?

In general I don't do half board very often because there are so many other places I'd like to eat. But if it is a place that is well know for its food, or in a rural/semi-remote area the nearest restaurants might be quite a distance.
janisj is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:36 AM
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Hi C,

We have found that the demi-pension choice at Logis de France properties often allow you to choose from the regular menu at reduced cost.

Sometimes there is a special menu.

You can always ask the hotel what your DP menu will be.

If you arrange in the morning for dinner, you can usually choose DP or not.

ira is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 06:18 AM
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Ira, thanks for that info. I always thought you had to book your whole stay either B&B or DP and couldn't do it day by day.

To answer the OP, we always opt for B&B terms but last summer when we stayed 4 nights at Les Clos Normand in St. Aubin sur Mer in Normandy DP was required--as it sometimes is, particularly at resort places on the various coasts. It was a fantastic deal. The place had a lovely indoor dining room and even a protected dining area directly on the waterfront. The menu was extensive and we never tired of the choices even with 4 days. We opted for several things that required supplements, but you could easily eat within the standard terms and the savings over dining ala carte was substantial. So, based on that one experience I'm much more inclined to be willing to consider DP from here on. However, I'm sure that the real answer is as janisj says--"it depends."
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 09:28 AM
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You can almost always opt-out for breakfast also, and have the overpriced breakfast tab reduced from your hotel bill. I think breakfsts in French hotels are major rip-offs.

We like to have breakfasts "in town" and watch the village come to life in the morning - or better yet - watch the morning farmers's market vendors set-up. If you're way out in th country with no other breakfast options and you MUST have a breakfast to start the day - then that's different.

In the Dordogne I would love croissants & a cafe creme along the Dordogne River in Roque Gageac or Beynac - or in Sarlat (and watch the Wed or Sat market open), or Domme, etc.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 10:07 AM
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It does really depend on the hotel, and mainly I think it's up to you. I don't do it because I don't usually want to eat dinner at my hotel, I like being out and about and going to restaurants. I would do it if I were in the middle of nowhere and that was about the only place to go anyway.

The hotels I've stayed at in France did not allow you to do that on a day-by-day basis, you had to decide up-front for the stay as it affects the rates. One of the reasons they do that is in order to manage meal demand better, usually. At some hotels I've stayed at, it didn't even offer you any price cut at all over the menu, it was just a way of ensuring you'd get a meal if they had a popular restaurant where locals dined. The demi-pension you bought was limited to certain things on the menu, also -- sort of like the cheapest prix fixe .

Logis de France hotels are independent, I've stayed at a couple, and there isn't any rule about what they do or what kind of food they serve.
Christina is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 01:22 PM
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The sense of demi-pension is that you get (hopefully) different meals if you stay for a week or so in one hotel. When you dine à la carte you will quickly have tasted every option on the menu. Demi-pension should include a menu of the day.

The quality of demi-pension is often lower than of à la carte, but you can upgrade (for extra fee).

If you are staying for 2 or 3 nights only I would not do it in order to be more flexible.
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 01:28 PM
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Demi-pension is especially useful if you want to have more than a glass of wine with dinner (plus an apéritif). Being able to walk back to the hotel room is much better than having to drive back; the French are now very concerned with drinking and driving.
Underhill is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 01:35 PM
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I would only do it in very small villages with limited choices and if it saves you money (it can). I would also make sure that the cook is highly recommended, esp. if it's a table d'hôte (B&B).
enroute is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 03:22 PM
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>I would only do it in very small villages with limited choices and if it saves you money...

If one chooses one's hotels carefully, one can eat very well for somewhat less than a la carte.

ira is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 03:51 PM
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Here is a write-up from my wife's diary about our wonderful dinner in Estaing on the Lot river - when everyone else around us was demi-pension.

Aux Armes d’Estaing in Estaing – rating 8 (9/04)
The hotel & restaurant had been “complet” on a couple of occasions, so we were a little fearful that they might cater to tour bus groups & we’d be one of the few (if any) individual parties. We walked in & saw a big table of about 15 & thought “uh, oh”, but we had a good table & on a closer observation saw that there were many individual tables. It appeared that many people in the dining room were also hotel guests (probably demi-pension). We checked out the dishes served at the other tables & it looked to be very simple, basic fare served on “cafeteria style” place settings. Our first clue that “le menu” was dramatically different from the demi-pension choices came when we were served an Amuse Bouche course: warm rich asparagus soup topped with a dollop of tandori butter (served in a small, tall narrow glass), with an accompaniment of house-made herbed chevre ice cream! – and believe it or not, the meal got more wonderful
I had the menu a 23E
- Marinee of trout wrapped around a mouselline of scallops and ecrevisse (in chunks) served with greens with a mango vinaigrette & a mango slice for garnish
- Fillet of Sandre (on a Villeroy & Boch “wave” plate) topped with a slice of crisp bacon & served with a reduction sauce. In addition, on the plate were: steamed spinach, a piped potato croquette, alternating thin slices of zucchini & tomato & a molded round of eggplant, & mushroom mousse edged with zucchini & carrot slices. Again, the presentation (herbs, diced bell peppers, halved cherry tomatoes) was something to behold. Even the adjacent demi-pension diners were eyeing our courses (it was as if there were 2 different restaurants operating in the same room).
- Cheese tray – I limited myself to only St Nectaire
- I had presumed that our dessert choices would be one of the 5 or 6 kinds of tarts sitting on a big table in the dining room. The hostess (wife of the chef, it turns out) had been slicing & serving the tart slices to order (dipping first from 2 containers – crème anglaise & a darker fruit sauce & then dusting everything with powdered sugar). I had been coveting the tart aux myrtilles!! But our “le menu” dessert choices were entirely different! Nonetheless, I requested the myrtille tart and, since there only remained 1 small slice, I got that plus 2 slices of strawberry tart
Stu had le menu a 31E
- Millefeuille de riz d’agneau. I had expected a layered pastry presentation, but we were astounded when the “layers” were defined by crisps of eggplant & the riz, also with chopped pistachios, on a bed of sautéed cepes!!! This was served on a big, square frosted glass plate with two sauces – parsley puree & a dark balsamic vinegar reduction – of course, also with the herb & vegetable adornments – awesome !!
- Leg & breast of canneton (young duck) served on an irregularly shaped Villeroy & Boch triangle plate. The leg was served on a bed of grapefruit & spiced bread (like a crisp). The breast was topped with sautéed foie gras. The dish was adorned with grilled asparagus spears & grilled & caramelized carrots & zucchini
- Stu had 3 cheeses from the cheese tray
- Stu did choose from the “le menu” desserts – a chocolate Grand Marnier gateau. The plate was garnished with passion fruit, kiwi, mangos, strawberries, raspberries, & powdered sugar.
With 1 bottle of Cote de Provence rose and a ½ bottle of Cahors red, the total came to 82E!!!!

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:15 PM
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Thank you all so much for the wonderful responses. In general, I think we'll do what Ira suggested - look at the menu upon arrival and see what is offered both ways. So far, only one hotel that I decided not to use required an advance selection of demi-pension or not.
cmenoni is offline  

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