Tue 06 Aug 2013

Montreuil Gems: Les Misérables & Froggy’s Tavern


Froggy's TavernThe weekend before last saw an intrepid band of Wine Society members make their way over to Montreuil-Sur-Mer for an evening of Provencal food and wine, and a son et lumière (‘sound and light’) rendition of Les Misérables courtesy of the local townspeople.

Warnings of severe thunderstorms did not deter us – we came prepared with a large bag of red plastic ponchos, which were to be used in case of emergency – but in the event, thankfully, they did not need to be deployed.

Our first stop was Froggy’s Tavern, which ranks among my personal favourite restaurants in Montreuil. Simple and tasty, their winning formula revolves around a choice of rotisserie meat, accompanied by a bowl of sautéed potatoes and a bowl of green salad.

In my humble opinion this is the kind of food the French do so well (although don’t get me wrong, I love the whole fine-dining experience as well!).

A glass of white, Cassis Clos Val Bruyére Château Barbanau, 2011 was taken outside in the sunshine, before we made our way indoors for a Provencal-inspired four-course meal complete with wines from the area. The pissaladière tomates/anchois was the perfect foil to the Château de Galoupet Cru Classé Rosé, and on my table at least, the Les Terraces, Domaine Richeaume, 2006 was an excellent accompaniment to the lamb main course. Unusually for the area, this particular red is 100% syrah, and whilst obviously still very young, it had a lovely concentration of fruit which enabled it to stand up to the thyme and olives, and the ratatouille which accompanied the dish.

Froggy'sDespite decanting, the Bandol, Domaine Tempier, 2010 a blend of mourvèdre, grenache, carignan and cinsault was still a little closed, though for those who thought to save it for the cheese course, it worked very well. As did the Château Vignelaure, 2006, a cabernet-dominated blend from what is said to be the most famous wine-producing estate of Provence.

By the time we had got to the dessert – a strawberry and basil soup with olive oil ice cream – we had started to run out of options for a Provencal sweet wine. We pushed the boundaries slightly and showed the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux, Méthode Ancestrale from Antech. One might say in our defence that Carcasson is only a few hours away from Provence (with the wind in your favour…). However, in spite of the fact that it wasn’t strictly kosher in terms of where it came from, it did work with the combination of flavours in the dessert.

Dinner concluded promptly to give everyone a chance to stroll along the ramparts to watch the Les Misérables spectacle.

Victor Hugo visited Montreuil in the summer of 1837. His visit only lasted a couple of hours, but it was long enough for him to meet a waitress called Cosette and witness the rescue of a man pinned under a runaway cart, events which made a deep impression upon him and which later made an appearance in his novel, Les Misérables.

Les Misérables in Montreuil

Les Misérables in Montreuil

Whilst initially disappointed that Hugh Jackman wasn’t going to make an appearance and that there was no singing to be heard, I must say that the Montreuil-Sur-Mer rendition of Les Misérables was truly impressive! The choreography was a feat in itself, especially when one considers that all 600 roles were reprised by the locals. From schoolchildren to the elderly, they put on their costumes and mimed their way through 90 minutes of sheer spectacle – from a prison chain-gang being marched across the streets of Paris to a bloody battle with horses galloping across the set. The evening culminating in an impressive firework display which must have been visible for miles around.

So Les Mis à la Montreuil-sur-Mer? It’s not Hollywood, but it’s no less the worse for that.

Emma Howat
Tastings & Events Co-ordinator

Categories : Montreuil, Wine Tastings


  1. Gary Dixon says:

    I never knew that this happened, is it a annual event?

    My wife and I met whilst working on the London production of the musical 23 years ago and have often thought of visiting Montreuil-Sur-Mer once we realised there was a Wine Society/ Les Mis connection. This would be the perfect time to pop over!

  2. Terry Humber says:

    We visited Montreuil the following week, with a couple of friends, and had a great weekend. We stayed in a quirky hotel, Les Ramparts. The food and wine at the tasting in Froggys was superb, and the “tableau” performed by the local people was unbelievable. Even though I have seen the film Les Miserables I would advise anyone to read the programme before the performance, as the narration is in French. Well done to all concerned, we hope to go again next year. And to top it all the weather couldn’t have been better.

  3. John Williams says:

    This sounds like an ideal way to combine a wine buying visit with spectacular entertainment!
    Is it possible to find the dates for the performances next year?

    • Martin Brown says:

      Hi John,
      The weekends are the same next year – the last weekend in July and the first in August. It is likely that we will arrange something in Montreuil over one of those weekends but we have yet to confirm whether it will involve the performances directly. Hope this is of use!

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