Restaurants: Where shall we eat in Dieppe?

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The Independent Culture
"Such a dear town, Dieppe," says a character in one of Noel Coward's plays - I can't remember which play, off hand, but the important fact is that Dieppe remains a dear town. And the good news is that P&O Stena's haphazard fast-ferry service from Newhaven on the Sussex coast to Dieppe in Upper Normandy has been replaced with a more efficient Hoverspeed ferry.

Hoverspeed haven't quite yet mastered loading and unloading the car decks in good time, but "technical problems" are so far fewer than of yore, and more quickly fixed. This means that lunch (or dinner) in one of northern France's prettiest and most evocative ports is a real option for anyone living south of, say, St Albans, and east of Winchester. The journey time from Newhaven to Dieppe is now just two hours.

Dieppe lends its name to one of the classical dishes of France, the fish stew known as la marmite Dieppoise, and where better to sample la marmite Dieppoise than at A La Marmite Dieppoise, on Rue St Jean, just two minutes walk from the dockside tourist information office.

Service can be annoyingly slow in this much-loved old eatery, but the stew (a creamy mixture of cod, turbot, monkish, mussels - with just a hint of curry) is worth the wait. The restaurant does a prix fixe menu with the stew and that staple Normandy pudding - apple tart with calvados and cream. But diners can happily stray over the menu - all the fish and shellfish dishes are of the highest quality, while duck and chicken (in cider) await those not committed to the fruits de mer.

A word of warning, though - the restaurant attracts English in their droves - so if you've come to be surrounded by the low hum of the Gallic race at their trough (rather than red-faced English attempting to order another bottle of Muscadet in schoolboy French) go to one of Dieppe's other many fine but less well-known eateries.

A La Marmite Dieppoise, 8 rue Saint-Jean, Dieppe (00 33 2 35 84 24 26)


La Melie 2-4 Grande Rue du Pollet (00 33 2 35 84 21 19)

Dieppe's only Michelin-starred restaurant

Au Grand Duquesne 15 place Saint-Jacques (00 33 2 35 84 21 51)

Well-run tourist haunt deserves its popularity

Les Tourelles 43 rue du Commandant Fayolle (00 33 2 35 84 15 88)

Traditional bistro fare