DIEPPE, France–This is the view from my window at Les Arcades de la Bourse at Port de Plaisance.
Well, it was when Joseph Vernet painted it back in the late 1700s.
There are fewer tall ships now, a lot more white cruisers and power boats. Still, not a lot else has changed, as you can see by the shot I took this week from my 3rd floor balcony.
Husband and wife innkeepers Karine and Matthieu Leducq could not be more accommodating. Les Arcades offers 21 tidy rooms spread over four floors, so it is small enough that you don’t have to ride the tiny, red rug-lined elevator in the lobby. Take the squeaky, twisty, hardwood stairs instead. Just ask for a room that faces the spectacular Port de Plaisance–it’s worth the extra ten Euros. The little balconies off the large french doors offer the best view of the marina. The three star hotel, which offers free WiFi, is also just two short blocks from the historic Madeleine Church.
The restaurant on the main floor, which spills out into the sidewalk, was busy throughout the Dieppe 70th anniversary memorials. Les Arcades specializes in sea food, all brought in daily from local fishermen. You can’t finish the seafood salad, which is smothered in prawns, and the salmon entree I ate late last week was tender and flavourful.
If you’re looking for something fast, run around the block after you run down the stairs and stop at La Mie Caline. The little pastries shop has morning breads to tempt all tastes and their crusty, french stick sandwiches are fresh, reasonable and delicious.
Matthieu speaks far more English than I speak French, not a high bar, granted, but helpful nevertheless. He can be seen in Dieppe Uncovered, the History Television documentary which bowed to 545,000 overnight, estimated viewers Sunday and repeats tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
He is a history and architecture buff and will tell you most of the buildings around the port–including Les Arcades–date back to 1697, when a large fire ravaged much of the downtown. He figures his place has been operating as a hotel for at least 100 years. Churchill stayed there, and so did Orson Welles, who probably found no wine was served before its time.
Among the regulars who now make Les Arcades a second home is a chap who owns and operates a historic automobile which dates back as far as 1903. Matthieu, who is up on the local antique car rally scene, took it for a spin. I think he told me the car was capable of 200 horsepower, which is what my little Neon used to get on a good day. Check out how it can still snap into traffic, below.