Rouen – Restaurants – La Couronne
The Hotel and Restaurant La Couronne is the oldest inn in France, it has been in operation since 1345. You would therefore not be surprised that a) the food is good and b) many celebrities have and still are eating there. The ego walls at the entry and stairs are a testimony to this with all the photos of famous people who have dined here. Julia Child ate here (it was her first meal in France), and there’s even a menu named after this famous American chef.
The old hotel/restaurant is as-was. Rickety stairs, wood panelling etc, but don’t worry… the food is not from the year 1345.
The inn is located just in front of the old market place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Luckily, none of the menus have her name on it, though one of the rooms is named after her.
The food style is classical French, so a lot of foie gras, duck, beef, cheese, etc. The wine list is excellent and abundant.
TIP: Their “Canard a la Rouenaisse a la Presse” (aka Pressed Duck) was invented at one of world’s most famous (and expensive) restaurants, the Tour d’Argent in Paris in the 19th century. This is not for the fainthearted, but it is excellent. They place a duck (dead, so don’t worry) in a silver duck press and squeeze every drop of blood and bone marrow out of the bird. Then the duck’s blood and crushed bones are combined with its liver and some other ingredients turning it into a thick sauce, with a very strong and rich taste. Trust me, it’s excellent. And all this is done in front of you.
It’s not exactly a cheap menu, although they do have an interesting €25 lunch menu, but you’ll be paying for some very good food, and the privilege to eat in France’s oldest inn. Menus can be chosen between €35 and €49, excluding wine. So not so bad.
The Julia Child menu does set you back €65, but it is the food she ate when she first arrived in France, and she ate it in this restaurant. It was at this inn that she started her famous food career.
The ambiance as can be expected is subdued, in honour of the history of the place. It’s quite, even silent and at times a tad heavy. But you’ll not feel out of place, no matter who you are, or how you are dressed.
Service is not bad, not excellent either. The place is quite big, and the waiters need to walk a lot. The waiters are very courteous and know their wines. Do count on having at least 2 hours minimum lunch, maybe even 3.
Coming to Rouen and not eating at La Couronne is like going to Disney and not seeing Mickey. And if you go, you really should try to Pressed Duck dish.