LA FERME SAINT SIMEON – The cradle of Normandy Impressionism PART 1

It’s here in Honfleur, a romantic Normandy harbour, that the Impressionist painters met in the 19th century. Attracted by the light and a stunning view over the Seine estuary and the Channel, they chose to take up residency at “Mère Toutain’s” inn. This home, with timbered walls and thatched roofs, offered cheap lodging and a tasty cuisine to travellers. The mistress of the house, Mère Toutain, was to give the inn its renown. Very rapidly she was to welcome, charm and inspire artists of the such of Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet and Charles Baudelaire. Today, passed down from family to family, this inn is the Ferme Saint-Siméon, a 5-star Relais & Châteaux. The panorama is sumptuous, and the light indefinable. As we checked in, we were welcomed in an oak walls and traditional tomettes floor decorated lobby to sip a delicious apple grog twisted with a minted infusion and indulge in the unique Normandy apple pie.  The atmosphere was luxurious yet homely, enticing me to linger and daydream. After a jump in the spa, we opted for the gastronomic restaurant in front of a warm fireplace, where we savoured the heritage with views over the Pigeonnier and the celebrated Normandy bridge, the longest in Europe, connecting the region of Calvados with the Seine one. The room, under the roof, was a timeless bubble where I could fully restore, in an harmonious blend of modern equipment and historical touches.

For those of you who know me by now, you are also aware of the fact that I basically worship breakfast time.

In a region that doesn’t particularly cultivate rice, It was such a surprise for me to find the rice-based teurgoule, a region culinary specialty. The reason is to be found in the naval transportation of goods from the rest of Europe to this Normandy port. The sailors would have their wives prepare this nourishing dish in traditional terracotta pots, which can be kept at room temperature for days, for them to face the hard days at sea.

la ferme st simeon-photo-christophe bielsa-facade nuit-03 bd

And I’m proud to be sharing this exclusive recipe dating 1860 with you today.


  • 1 lt. whole milk
  • 80 gr. caster sugar
  • 5 gr. cinnamon powder
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 80 gr. Carnaroli or Vialone Italian Rice

Preheat the oven at 140°. Cut the vanilla pod in the middle with a sharpened knife, and get the dusty seeds with its tip. Bring the milk to a boil with the sugar, the cinnamon, the vanilla seeds and the salt.

Distribute the rice in two terracotta pots and equally pour the boiling milk in.  Put in the oven at 140° for roughly 2 hours. Verify the cooking process with the help of a knife. The tergoule needs to be firm, just like a crème caramel.

With love and seagulls,