Mark and I have spent the morning working in La Maison Rose, a small gite we are renovating in Reminiac.

At midday, Mark stops. I swear, my British husband is definitely turning French as he cannot miss the Sacro-saint midday lunch break!

-“Come on, I’ll take you out to lunch. We both deserve a treat and I’m hungry.”

-“I can’t. Look at me, I’m filthy”.

-“Great. You’ll fit right in. It’s a resto routier”.

We arrive at the “D8” restaurant in Monterrein. It’s located between Ploërmel and La Gacilly and the car park is full of vans. The restaurant, also referred to as a “restaurant ouvrier”, offers what is called a “Formule Ouvrière” during the week. Some of the house specials include couscous, Tête de Veau (Calf Head) or Tripe and feature regularly on the menu.

We walk through the bar and sit at the last two place settings on one of the long tables. That’s part of the resto routier concept: diners share tables. The place is bigger than I thought: it can accommodate 70 people!

Despite its large capacity, the restaurant is full and I am the only woman. The men are all manual workers, plumbers, electricians and commune employees. Now, I am pleased that I am covered in builders’ dust. I do fit in!

For entrée, there is a varied buffet offering among other things charcuterie, melon or ham with mixed vegetables (called macédoine) and a glass of cider.

Dish with melon-ham-black olives

The main course is either ‘tête de veau’ (I hope there is another choice…) or tripe (NOOOOOO) or duck (Phew…). The duck was delicious. Wine is freely available.

I am sitting next to a heavily tattooed man in his twenties. He has ordered tripe. This is served with 4 small jacket potatoes. He has spiked one of the potatoes on his fork and is painstakingly peeling it with his knife. I look round. Everyone is peeling their jacket potatoes…

Cheese to follow, then a choice of puddings, both from the dessert buffet. I choose Far Breton (a very traditional Breton dessert).

Coffee rounds up this unexpectedly delicious meal. Mark pays the bill: 20 euros for the two of us.

I am reluctant to go back to clearing rubble…

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