Fine Dining in Northern France
Restaurant, oyster bar, traiteur and fishmonger
62520 Le Touquet
Le Touquet is often called
"Paris-Plage". This seaside resort was very popular with wealthy
Parisians, at he beginning of last century, witness the extravagant
residences in Art Nouveau style.
It all starts on April 25, 1837, when notary Jean-Baptiste Daloze
buys a plot, simply called "Le Touquet", for the princely sum of
120,000 francs. In return the wealthy Frenchman receives 4000 acres
of dunes, to make a hunting ground of it. Daloze's fortune was made
long ago and the man will reside more and more in his new domain,
including the 2000 acres which he planted with pine trees. In 1874
Daloze invites the owner of the French newspaper "Le Figaro",
Hippolyte de Villemessant, on his property for a hunting party. The
newspaper magnate asks his friend why he doesn't convert his plot
into a seaside resort. Daloze decides to follow his friends advise,
and renames his domain "Paris-Plage".
The new resort is a challenge for the highest paid architects of the
country and soon the reputation of "Le Touquet Paris-Plage" exceeds
the country's borders. In 1894, visiting Englishman John R. Whitley
noticed the new resort and its potential. Whitley has higher degrees
from various universities, speaks four languages (English, French,
German and Italian) and loves "project starts". From the heirs of
Jean-Baptiste Daloze, he buys a plot near the seafront and
establishes the "Mayville Company Ltd", supported by a committee of
more than fifty members, including Louis Pasteur, Sarah Bernhardt
and the Duke of Morny.
On December 16, 1902 Whitley buys the remaining 2,700 acres from the
heirs of Daloze and obtains the majority of Le Touquet Paris-Plage.
Whitley procures that by the end of the "golden years" 1920, just
before the great stock market crash, most of the British glitterati
have a cottage in Le Touquet. A private airport is opened and that
is when the English smart set start "hopping" the English
Channel to play golf, attend the races at the local "Horse Racing
Course" or play an evening of big-spender in the casino. It is said
that Ian Fleming was in Le Touquet when he found his inspiration for
his fictional casino Royale-les-Eaux in the novel "Casino
Currently only 5500 souls (called Touquettois) live
permanently in the resort, but during the holidays find the streets
are thronged. Le Touquet also offers a large number of hotels,
including some very exclusive, as the four star Westminster Hotel
& Spa, with rooms with price tags up to €850 per night
(+£700.00). The atmosphere at Le Touquet is hard to describe, you
might label it as a kind of "miniature Monaco".
Amid all the exclusive boutiques and posh restaurants of Le Touquet,
there is a restaurant famous for its ... soup. It was founded by
Serge Pérard, born in 1921, who is nowadays nicknamed "the pope of
fish soup". It all started during World War II, when this part of
France was occupied by the Germans and there were very strict rules
for fishing at sea. Serge Pérard went with his friend Maurice to the
port of Boulogne-sur-Mer to find if anything was worth picking up
and found that despite the war and food shortages, the fish heads
were nearly free.
Back home Serge boiled the fish heads and ate them with some
potatoes. Later that night he tasted the broth left, added some
herbs and onions to it and enjoyed his first fish soup.
For nearly 20 years Serge Pérard kept the fishsoup recipe for
himself, while he gradually improved it to perfection, adding
shellfish and saffron. In 1963 there was no fish-eating culture in
France, but Serge Pérard decided to take the chance and opened the
first fish restaurant in the country. His soup was a great success
in the small Le Touquet and when the Parisian beau monde
went back to work in the capital, after their holidays, they craved
after the soup Pérard.
To meet that demand Serge spend
some time in Paris, where he learned how his soup could be
preserved. From then on, the fish soup of Pérard is for sale in
sterilized jars. First on a small scale in the kitchen of the
restaurant on Rue de Metz, but meanwhile, nearly half a century
later, there are about ten thousand jars a day made in a factory on
the outskirts of Le Touquet. Pérard once wanted to transfer his soup
business to the fishing port of Boulogne, but the city of Le Touquet
called it a "landmark" and offered Pérard a piece of land. The soup
of Pérard is exported to over twenty countries, even to Saudi
Arabia, where it is very popular!
The Pérard restaurant is still on the same site as in 1963, on 67
rue de Metz. The interior hasn't changed in style and feel in all
those years, with its pink tablecloths, orange chandeliers and
copper decoration it is like a time machine. The dining room seats
up to eighty gourmets.
Besides the restaurant there is a fish and an oyster bar. It happens
that yours truly drives the 100 Miles to Le Touquet only to buy a
nice fat fresh sole, preferably well over 750 grams... The
quality of the fish and the friendliness and expertise of the
fishmongers at Pérard make the journey worth it.
Serge Pérard passed away on 12/03/2013, aged 93, but his business is
still on. Pérard has worked hard for it and for his soup and his
"I'm not rich, but my soup is"
Since I've written this page, I've had a number of dinners at Pérards.
Each time I've enjoyed the delicious fish soup (à volonté!) and was
If you want real value for money, I can recommend the menu of the day:
a three course meal (starter + main course + dessert) whereby the fish
soup can be chosen as a starter.
(Currently -april 2018- at 28 Euros p.p. )
The main course with this menu is the 'fish of the day' (what else
would you expect in France's oldest fish restaurant?) The dessert can
be chosen from the card.
Warning: the first time I choose this menu, I was seduced by the
waitress... to have a second and third
portion of soup. The
result was that I was unable to finish my dessert: an enormous 'île
flottante'. This 'floating island' was the largest one I've ever had
in any French restaurant. Since then I've learned to restrain myself
and nowadays I keep it to only one extra portion of soup, no matter
how sweet the waitress might be :-)
Pérard have a new website, and since the restaurant is quite
popular, it is highlty advisable to make a reservation. Especially
during school holidays and weekends.
Fishmonger, Oyster Bar, traiteur and Restaurant