La Mere Poulard Omelet, Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is one of the great wonders of the world, along with the Parthenon, the pyramids in Egypt, and the Taj Mahal. It’s a majestic, spectacular sight when you’re walking down the path toward the island (cars aren’t allowed past a certain point), and you look up and see the island with the church crowning the top, rising above you, framed by the steel-blue sky of Normandy.

Mont Saint-Michel is the second most visited attraction in France, after the Eiffel Tower (the caves of Roquefort are also right up there on the list, and is on my list of places to visit, too), and this was my second time visiting. The first time, though, we couldn’t stay long because the tides come in and out quickly, and we were in danger of being trapped on the island. Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except for the parking bill if we’d left the car in the lot overnight.

I’ve been working like a madman, finishing one book and wrapping up another at the same time. (I know… I know…right?) The saying about “taking time to enjoy life” sometimes takes a backseat to pages of copy edits and production notes, which involves details like deciding whether you want to use the word “aged” versus “grim,” or whether it’s right, or “write,” which is why writer’s need copy editors. I mean, writers. (No apostrophe.) When you’re staring at words all day, it’s nice to take a break, which I did when I made plans to go to Normandy for a quick visit.

It was a too-brief trip, but I’ve learned you can’t do everything in life, and still have time to do other things in life. (Not even sure that makes sense. If not, I told you I was kaput.) But the nice thing about France is that you can go somewhere a few hours away, and be in a completely different region, with different foods and a different feeling. Normandy is close to Paris, just a little over an hour by train, and there are a lot of reasons to visit; the sea, the spectacular aged cheeses (which are anything but ‘grim’), and the copper cookware.

Another reason people come to Normandy, and Mont Saint-Michel, is for the souffléed omelet at La Mère Poulard, the plus célèbre omelette in the world. Executive Chef Alain Crespier (who was a finalist for an MOF, the highest designation a chef in France can receive) oversees the kitchen and the omelet making. Although I was considering calling this post: Copper Bowl Porn, I knew that search engines would filter that out because of the third word, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on some copper bowl action.

I know because I wouldn’t want to be left out of it, either. Thankfully, there I was, amongst the copper bowls filled with eggs, and whatever secret ingredient they put in the omelet mixture with the eggs (probably additional egg whites?) – but if you ask anything about what’s in the omelet, or how they’re made – well, I can tell you one thing for sure: they’re not telling.

Because it’s Normandy, and because Normandy is in France, of course the omelet starts with a lot of butter. Madame Poulard, who invented this particular omelet, came to Mont Saint-Michel in the late 1800’s and started making omelets for people who’d make the pilgrimage to the holy site. (Their publicity said that she created 700 recipes. So I clearly have some catching up to do!) People were famished from the journey, and her omelets were both nourishing and could be made with items easy to obtain and conserve on the tiny island.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRiaqrRDzs0/?taken-by=davidlebovitz

There was nowhere to raise animals or to store meat, nor is there anywhere to grow vegetables, including in the surrounding areas; little can grow because of the salty marsh water. In addition to the omelet, the region is known for its excellent oysters and agneau pre-salé, lambs that graze on salty grasses, which give their flavorful meat a particularly tender texture.

Although Madame Poulard apparently served the omelets at all hours, in France, an omelet isn’t something normally eaten at breakfast, but is a complete lunch or dinner you can make with ingredients you already have on hand, without a lot of fuss. Many cafés serve them at lunch and people often make one at home when there’s not much in the larder, or whatever people call “larders” these days.

Fortunately anyone can watch the omelets being made over the open fire at La Mère Poulard. There were lots of eggs piled in a basket, a big basket of beurre de baratte, a roaring fire, and a cook with a job to do. Long-handled copper skillets are used the make the omelets, which are fabricated in the nearby town of Villedieu-les-Poêles. The eggs are beaten for at least five minutes (yes, I counted), until they’re as light and foamy as genoise batter. Then the mixture is poured into a copper skillet and cooked over the fire until the bottom is browned, but the inside is still quivering and frothy.

Guarding the secret carefully, like the Malakoffs of Switzerland, when pressed for answers about what’s in them, you’ll only get a Jaconde-like (Mona Lisa-like) smile from the cooks or chef. With apologies to the “Recipe…please!” crowd, that’s okay with me, because sometimes it’s better to enjoy something in the moment, while you’re there, rather than worry about recreating it at home. That’s why people travel. (As if anyone needs another excuse to go to Mont Saint-Michel?)

After watching some of the omelets being made, I sat down for dinner in the dining room. Just before, I’d had a quick tour of the island with a local guide, and earlier in the day, had spent the morning and most of the afternoon in Villedieu-les-poêles, at a copper cookware factory. (I’ve got a post on that coming up, once I sort through all the pictures I took, and answer the 100+ manuscript queries that piled up during my 24-hour absence.) So it was nice to finally sit down after having woken up at 5am to make the 7:30am train, and have a fluffy omelet – and a much-needed glass of white wine – for dinner. I felt like a pilgrim who’d finally made it to the table, and this time, wasn’t fighting the tides to get home.

The omelets are available nature (plain, although I prefer to say nature, which sounds better in French), or with a ratatouille-like mixture of vegetables, foie gras, bacon, shrimp, and even lobster, when in season.

We went local with Camembert and roasted potatoes (above), which hit the bull’s-eye. The omelets aren’t stuffed with “filling” (a word I’m not going to use, which’ll please the pedants – and copy editors), but for lack of a better word, we’ll go with accompagnements, or garnitures, which sound better in French, too.

The omelets are garnis rather than farcis (stuffed), to preserve the integrity of the puffy souffléd omelet, and the ingredients don’t get lost in the eggy batter. We did save room for the omelet with roasted apples and salted butter caramel for dessert which came out flambéed, although my take is that a glass of Calvados is perhaps the best way to end of meal when you’re in Normandy. Because, like me, you’re bound to be farci.

Before dinner, when I’d spent some time with Chef Crespier in the kitchen, while we chatted, I couldn’t take my eyes (or hands) off the heavy copper bowls. We used to have one like that at Chez Panisse, which we used to whip up the hundred-plus soufflés the nights we had them on the menu. (And I have the Popeye-like powerful right forearm to prove it). I hadn’t been able to find one that thick in France for my kitchen. But they had what looked to be about twenty-five of them lined up on a the shelf, with only three in action at the time, because it was low-season.*

Just as I left, the chef handed me a bowl as a gift. Those who know me know that I am rarely speechless, but this was one of the handful of times in my life that I was. I think I thanked him not less than forty times before hooking it over the handle of my suitcase the next morning and wheeling it home, crossing the bridge to the island, hopping on the train with it, taking the bus across Paris, before placing it on my kitchen counter. My days of making a hundred soufflés are over, but I might use it to make one or two in the near future, and perhaps an omelet as well.

La Mère Poulard
Grand Rue
Mont Saint-Michel, France
Tél: 02 33 60 14 08


Notes: I was guest of La Mère Poulard, but the opinions are my own. (For more information, read my Restaurant Write-Up policy.) The debate goes on whether the omelet is worth the price. (The current price of the omelet is €34, although there is a 3-course menu in that price range, which includes the plain omelet, and is a full meal.) It’s not an inexpensive omelet for sure, but this is a world-renowned restaurant and experience and I felt it worth sharing with readers.

*As mentioned, I was there in low-season, and Mont Saint-Michel and the restaurant were fairly calm. I haven’t been there during high-season, but starting in the spring, through the summer months, and the beginning of fall, the crowds are legendary. So if you plan to visit during those periods, you definitely won’t be alone.


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104 comments

  • Vivien
    March 13, 2017 7:30pm

    Hi David
    What a great experience. I covet your copper bowl. 34 Euro for an omelet may seem a tad expensive until you consider what passes for an omelet in NA and the prices charged for those. Considering the ambiance, the location, that it is in France for pete’s sake… $50 Cdn… I’d pay it.

  • Adele Miller
    March 13, 2017 7:33pm

    Mont St. Michel was truly the highlight of our Fall trip to Normandy/Brittany last year. It was a bucket list visit for me, and we had the good fortune of staying in a lovely B&B close enough by that we visited the Mont in the evening, when it was quiet and mysterious and again the next morning, when it was shrouded in early morning fog.

    Though we didn’t buy any copper pans in Villedieu-les-Poeles, and we didn’t have an omelet at La Mere Poulard, we did have one of the best meals of our lives at a little place only a few miles from the Mont, where the pre-sale lamb was sensational.

    We’d go back to Normandy in a heartbeat!

    P.S. I’m considering whipping up an omelet next weekend instead of going to my usual workout………

    • Honey
      March 13, 2017 11:35pm

      Adele,
      Mont St-Michel is on my bucket list. Would love to have the name of the B&B you so enjoyed. Also, any other tips you don’t mind passing on.
      Thank you in advance.
      Honey

      • Ellen
        March 14, 2017 12:19am

        Lynn,

        I am also planning a visit in the near future. After reading Davids article I am thinking a few days may be fun to explore the area. I too would appreciate any information that you may want to share on places to stay etc.
        Thanks Ellen

      • Adele
        March 14, 2017 2:36am

        Gladly: Le Clos St. Gilles in Ardevon. It’s a lovely property, with views of Mont St. Michel and it’s a quick drive to the shuttle parking lots. Excellent breakfast, too! They will give you the best tips for where to park, and timing to beat the crowds.

        We had dinner at Le Sillon de Bretagne, upon the hosts’ recommendations and it was wonderful. Owned by a couple in their 30’s or so. Madame is in the kitchen and Monsieur runs the front of the house, and speaks very good English.

        • Honey
          March 14, 2017 2:40am

          Wonderful information. Thank you so much for sharing.
          Honey

    • Renee Bryant
      April 9, 2017 3:14am

      Would you be willing to share where you have the lamb and where your stayed?

      • Adele
        April 9, 2017 4:08am

        With pleasure: Le Sillon de Bretagne, in the town of Tanis. At least one of the owners speaks English very well, so if you are interested in making a reservation (probably recommended in the busy season), you can feel comfortable about calling or emailing.

  • March 13, 2017 7:36pm

    A perfect omelette is one of the most difficult dishes to cook. I love that copper bowl!

  • Macnickerz
    March 13, 2017 7:37pm

    I have spent many a time at MstM and it’s counterpart in England being from Jersey in the Channel Isles. ( And been locked in the abbey? Too once over the lunch hours!) anyway sparkling water is an ingredient that gets the eggs fluffy. Also there used to be a shed on the RHS as you drive out on the causeway and we had the best chips for a longtime there, ordering a serving and then watching the lady pick out potatoes from the sack, peel, wash, dry them and then fry them a couple of times – not fast food in the traditional sense but rather fabulous in their presentation.

    • March 13, 2017 7:44pm
      David Lebovitz

      I never heard that about sparkling water but I do add beer to my crêpe batter, which I think lightens it a bit. Wonder if the sparkling water, though, would lose it’s frothiness during the lengthy beating? Interesting info – thanks!

  • Sophia Twaddell
    March 13, 2017 7:37pm

    We loved the omelets and the atmosphere and would go back in a heartbeat.

    Mont St. Michel is one of the most amazing places in the world.

  • Nancy L Studebaker
    March 13, 2017 7:39pm

    I know this will sound like another culinary heresy, and what can compare with beating eggs for 5 minutes in a copper bowl – I find myself asking (the modern oaf that I am) what electric devise could best spare me of this work? My Kitchen Aide? Cuisinart? Vitamix? What sayeth thou?

    • March 13, 2017 7:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know why they beat them in copper. I know copper is better for beating egg whites which is believed to be due to a reaction with the copper and the whites, but I’ve never whipped whole eggs in them. If you give it a try, let us know how it works out!

      • Bebe
        March 16, 2017 11:42pm

        Juiia Child once did a “contest” on her television program in which she compared egg whites beaten by hand (her hand) in a copper bowl with egg whites beaten with an electric mixer. She declared it a draw. Quite an admission for a Francophile like Julia!

      • Sashine
        April 1, 2017 6:07pm

        Hello, David: This is all very interesting. Thank you for sharing. I was told that the wooden-handled whisks are no longer being made (in France). Do you know if that is true? Thank you.

        • April 1, 2017 7:03pm
          David Lebovitz

          I’ve not seen them for a sale anywhere (the whisks I have with wooden handles are vintage). I think plastic or metal are now the norm since they are more hygienic and durable, and likely made elsewhere.

          • Sashine
            April 1, 2017 7:29pm

            HI David, Thank you. I thought the same about the hygiene issue. A friend tried to get a wooden-handled one for me at Dehillerin, but was unable. However, he did get a nice Matfer whisk, although I would still love one of the older wooden-handled ones. Love your blog! Thank you again.

  • Jeanne
    March 13, 2017 7:45pm

    Fabulous post, David. Wonderful photos. Do not have a copper bowl, but will try to beat the eggs for five minutes. Looking forward to your new books.

  • Katrin
    March 13, 2017 7:45pm

    Dear David and Readers, Marion Cunningham provides an excellent recipe for a version of this in her Breakfast Book. She calls it Puffy Omelet, and I’ve had great success with it. The texture is perfect, and looks just like the photo, though I don’t go quite so dark on the finish. Love it with just a sprinkling of a great cheddar.

    • Cyndy
      March 13, 2017 10:37pm

      Oh my, I have her Breakfast cookbook. Thanks for mentioning that.

      We have recently purchased a tiny cottage in La Dordogne. An overnight in Mont Saint-Michelle is now on our wish list. I have heard discouraging reviews about visiting during the daytime only. An overnight sounds magical.

  • Elaine
    March 13, 2017 7:45pm

    We once stayed overnight at La Mère Poulard just so we could have the omelette for breakfast—and didn’t they have a fire in the kitchen and close it, before ee eere even up. Talk about krummy karma. Elaine and Bill, Colorado

    • March 13, 2017 7:53pm
      David Lebovitz

      I was thinking when I was there that it’d be nice if they found a way to make mini-omelets at breakfast (because I couldn’t eat a whole one in the morning!), but they don’t offer them. They told me they are planning some updates to the hotel in the future, but not sure what they will be.

  • Laura
    March 13, 2017 7:49pm

    How do the French make omelets without that sulphur accompaniment that I get when I cook eggs long enough to brown the omelet? Is it the freshness of the eggs? On a recent trip to Burgundy, an omelet at lunch looked much like your photos, with a browned outside, but absolutely no sulphur.

  • Bob
    March 13, 2017 7:55pm

    Maybe it’s the lighting but those omelettes look more like folded pancakes to me. As you said, they probably add in egg white. I’ve never seen one so light in color. This reminds me that I still have not tried to recreate (as if I could) the incredible shellfish galette I had in Normandy last summer.

  • Laurie
    March 13, 2017 7:55pm

    Thanks, David, for a wonderful trip down memory lane! Normandy is so wonderful!

  • Robert Hark
    March 13, 2017 7:58pm

    What do you call the ring in which the round copper bowl sits?

  • Roberta
    March 13, 2017 8:05pm

    David, this article was timely. We’ll be in Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel in late September. So now I know where we’ll be eating one of our meals! Can’t wait to read more about your soufflés and the copper bowl!

  • MR in NJ
    March 13, 2017 8:06pm

    I was there about a decade ago. Had never heard of the restaurant. Was blown away by the copper bowls as much as the omelets, but they were phenomenal. Worth the price for the experience…or if you don’t think so, you can watch through the front window for the entertainment value. But you’ll want some if you do. And if you go to Mont St. Michel, make a reservation to spend the night, because being there after the mobs have left is a unique experience with a sunset you won’t soon forget.

  • Lili
    March 13, 2017 8:07pm

    God that’s gorgeous… food porn indeed.

  • Kristin
    March 13, 2017 8:09pm

    We spent a night on Mont Saint Michel, and it was wonderful after the crowds left. We were served omelets as an appetizer, and had no room for our meals afterwards!

  • March 13, 2017 8:10pm

    I still remember the rhythm of the beating of the eggs. We were there in slow, slow season and were invited to help make our own omelets.

  • Kristina S.
    March 13, 2017 8:12pm

    How wonderful that you were gifted the copper bowl! I too would have been speechless. Anytime the French showed kindness to me while I lived abroad in Paris, I would always repeat over and over: “C’est très gentil, c’est très gentil!” That probably would have been me with the copper bowl. Happy cooking to you!

  • dianesullivan
    March 13, 2017 8:18pm

    I am so glad they gave you a bowl, you deserve it! Great post too!

  • March 13, 2017 8:19pm

    I thought Mont St Michel was open 24/7, as it has a causeway to the island, rather than a path that is closed at high tide? Certainly when we were there in December about 3 years ago, it was open – and I got soaked to the skin heading back to the shuttle bus, never been so cold in my life!

    I do love the name Villeneuve-les-poêles – we went past it last December on our trip to Brittany. Is it a nice place to visit?

    Meanwhile, you will love the Roquefort caves – we did! And we bought some 15-month aged Roquefort, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. Left the normal stuff absolutely standing (and I like that well enough!).

  • Linda H
    March 13, 2017 8:19pm

    I, too, went in the winter, so it was not crowded, but still busy enough. The island is illuminated at night, beautiful to see if you are staying in the area. I’m completely jealous of your copper pan.

  • Bonnie L
    March 13, 2017 8:23pm

    Anyone going to MSM needs to stay over at least 1 night. We went in September at the full moon for a super tide and it was amazing! Our hotel put us up at one of the old fishermen’s cottages (in your photo of the island, bottom right, it was right behind the house with aqua shutters). The island at night, sans tourists, is absolutely magical. Great memories.
    I am SO coveting your bowl❣

  • Karen Hall
    March 13, 2017 8:40pm

    In Elizabeth David’s “French Provincial Cooking” (1960) she reproduces a 1922 letter from the original Mere Poulard to a celebrated Parisian restaurateur and collector of cook books.
    “Voici la recette de l’omelette: je casse de bons oeufs dans une terrine, je les bats bien, je mets un bon morceau de beurre dans la poele, j’y jette les oeufs, et je remue constamment.”
    ED didn’t translate it, and I don’t dare, but I’m sure you can.

    • Victoria
      March 13, 2017 8:53pm

      Google translate gave this translation…. “Here’s the recipe for the omelette: I break good eggs in a bowl, I beat them well, I put a good piece of butter in the Pan, I throw eggs, and I stir constantly.”

    • March 14, 2017 6:58pm

      Karen, you’ve beat me to it. Was just about to quote La Mere’s recipe (such as it was) as referenced by Elizabeth David– it makes mockery of the mystique surrounding those omelettes, and rightly so.

      And since when is a proper omelette allowed to brown, even briefly? Heresy, to both Mrs David and to me.

  • March 13, 2017 8:56pm

    I love this! Did you see any cream around? I find that my omelettes are fluffier with cream. These would make my husband do saltos.
    Years ago, I did a Nouvelles Frontières trip to Morocco. Every single dinner time involved a discussion about the spices in the dishes we were eating and which region of France had the best butter/milk/cheese/you-name-it, but I clearly recall that butter came up more than once. And the Normands in our group generally won the argument.
    Those copper bowls have me salivating. I have resisted a number of copper bowls at various brocantes because our stove is induction, but hey, BOWLS, they don’t need to go on the stove.
    If you ever are in the south near Carcassonne, please let me know; I would be honored to introduce you to the local gastronomes.

  • March 13, 2017 9:13pm

    Fun fact: just as inhabitants of Paris are “Parisiens”, those of Villedieu-les-Poêles are called “sourdingues” (the deaf), presumably from all the hammering going on.

    Another fun fact: former NY mayor Michael Bloomberg had a hand-hammered copper bathtub made in Villedieu.

    As for omelets, Japan and France are the two countries that have perfected them. The hallmark of a proper French omelette is to be “baveuse” (slobbery, i.e. still liquid inside), and the Poulard ones look more like a soufflé than an omelette.

    My favorite food item nearby are the almond cookies from Biscuiterie du Mont St Michel, topped with candied cheeries. Very inexpensive too, and far better than the mediocre yet overpriced Mère Poulard brand biscuits.

    • John Lane
      March 14, 2017 9:52am

      I once saw Jacques Pepin make an omelet, and when he turned it out of the pan, it looked to be hopelessly undercooked; and when he touched the plain rolled omelet with his finger, it fairly oozed goo, and he lisped “Mmmm nithe and thoft” I don’t like eggs cooked that way, and I don’t like omeletes that have been beaten 5 minutes. Too moosey — if I want souffle I’ll make souffle.

  • Sue Piner
    March 13, 2017 9:16pm

    I had the great pleasure or eating there a few years ago. The Omelet and the salty lamb were delicious. We spent the night in the connecting hotel
    and walked the pathways in the moonlight. Wonderful thank you David for the reminder of great memories.

  • Armand
    March 13, 2017 9:28pm

    I ate there ~1991 in peak season. The production of omelettes was truly a show. However the dining room was like a bus station and there was 1/4 cup of melted butter left in my plate when I finished.

  • MR in NJ
    March 13, 2017 9:34pm

    Pedants–not pendants! Overconfident automatic spellcheck software?

    • March 14, 2017 3:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sorry about the errant “n.” There were a lot of photos to edit for this post, which took a while to put together with the text. Apologies for any typos or errors that may occur on the blog.

  • Victoria
    March 13, 2017 9:42pm

    I’ve been dying to go see this part of the world ever since I read “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr which takes place mostly at Saint-Malo. Now I’ve got to go to La Mere Poulard, Mont Saint-Michel and Villedieu-les-Poeles too.
    And what a generous gift — I would loved to have been there to witness the moment when he handed you that gorgeous copper bowl. What a treasure.

  • Barb Zwak
    March 13, 2017 9:44pm

    Thank you so much for taking me back to that beautiful place. I so loved it and the food. I have some of the same pictures and as a cook enjoy the memories. Buy copper bowl is a favorite.

  • Janet
    March 13, 2017 10:06pm

    I went to MSM in June last year, knew about the omelet, didn’t go . Boy do I regret it now. When can we buy your new books??

    • March 14, 2017 5:54am
      David Lebovitz

      The first book will be out in the fall of 2017 although they are still working on the cover and the design…and I’m still finishing edits (!) but it’s available for pre-order.

  • March 13, 2017 10:13pm

    Oh David, loved this post! I’ve always wanted to go to Normandy and MSM, its on my travel list and now we can add omelets to the itinerary. They look amazing. What a treasure your copper bowl is.Thank you. And beautifully written.

    • March 14, 2017 5:52am
      David Lebovitz

      The town where the copper is made is lovely, and the factory was amazing. It was really quite an experience!

  • Linda Yuen
    March 13, 2017 10:31pm

    Hi David- as always a warm and wonderful post. Any chance that you could list the manufacturer of the copper pan and the base? I will have something extra- special to look forward to! Many thanks,
    Linda

    • March 14, 2017 5:51am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know the manufacturer, I’m afraid. It’s stamped “Villedieu-les-poêles,” the town where copper cookware is made, but there’s no manufacturer’s name listed on it, and I don’t know who makes the bases but I presume they are something not commercially available, but are made for them, because I’ve never seen ones like that. (At home, you can use a damp towel rolled into a circle, or they sell “bowl stabilizers,” although a kitchen towel works pretty well.)

  • Wendy R.
    March 13, 2017 10:58pm

    I visited Mont St. Michel in July, 2015. I do not recommend visiting there in high season. The crowd was so big that you could barely move along to climb up to the top. Loads of tourists, including people slowing things down by carry a baby carriage. I was miserable and ready to turn around. This was my second visit, the first one being in 1973. Unless you feel you must do one of the most touristy things in France, I would skip it unless you are going off season or really early in the morning. I would not go there again. Visiting the American Cemetery in Normandy, however, was amazing.

    • Bricktop
      March 14, 2017 12:14am

      We had a day trip to Normandy last spring and our host gave us a choice between MSM and Omaha Beach, because we didn’t have time for both. Even with the omelette (which we didn’t know about) I have no regrets about going to Omaha. There are simply no words to describe it.

      • Bebe
        March 16, 2017 11:51pm

        I agree. We were at the American cemetery on the same day early in June as the D-Day invasion (somewhat later, in 1978). Thus there was fog hanging out over the channel and at the far reaches of the cemetery itself. The sound of lapping water that we could not see; the sea of crosses stretching so far and into the dim fog…I have never forgotten it.

        MSM is different. Unique. There is nothing like it. Some feel it is very touristy. I managed to put that aside and enjoy its uniqueness. One of the best thing about driving there (which we did) is seeing this fairy tale sight emerge out of a very flat plain.

        We didn’t stay overnight, nor did we do the omelet (some back then opined that it was overrated and overpriced – whatever) but we would not have missed the experience.

  • Linda Briganti
    March 13, 2017 11:01pm

    Went to La Mere Poulard in 1977! Still recall the sounds, the smell of the fire and the warm ambience. I have heard the quality has had its up and downs over the years and am glad to hear it is presently “up”. It was a highlight in a life with many pleasurable food moments.

  • David
    March 13, 2017 11:02pm

    I was once in a choir that went to sing [English Evensong] Vespers at the abbey at the top. The choir were trencher-people, as my credit card bill showed once after an apres-service meal (well lubricated) in Ely, UK. We also gave the Rugby club a good run for their money at the bar after normal services. (Many more such stories are available).

    But it was August, the traffic to MSM terrible, by the time the coach got there, there was just time enough to march up to the abbey to be ready to sing. Then we had to march back across the causeway [which floods on each high tide] before the tide came in (and complicated rules for the driver meant he could not wait until the tide went down again). Oddly enough, I was qualified to drive the coach, but only if empty!

    So although we were there, and willing, we never got a chance to try these Omlettes. Other commenters have referred to Mere Poulard’s comments as to how she made them, which I already knew. I didn’t know about them being cooked in an open fire, though. Wonder if that is one part of the legend – flames all around the bowl, not just from underneath.

    To be given that copper bowl…an honour, sure, but a lot of people will envy you (starting with me)!

  • Lynn Morris
    March 13, 2017 11:20pm

    We’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Mont Saint-Michel twice and we’re planning our next trip for this coming June. It’s an amazing experience to stay on the island and experience it all. When the crowds leave at the end of day, it transforms. Thanks for the great post about your omelette experience and your new copper pot!

    • Honey
      March 13, 2017 11:55pm

      lynn,
      Planning to vist next year. As a 2 timer you must know a nice place to stay that you might be willing to share. Also, good restaurants, etc.
      Thank you for your help.
      Honey

      • Lynn Morris
        March 14, 2017 2:46am

        We have enjoyed staying at the Hotel Saint-Pierre. We’ve stayed for two nights each time previously and this year we’re staying for three nights. Restaurants are only a few, my advice is to take a walk to review their menus and then make a choice. It’s incredibly crowded in Spring and Summer, we’ve always gone in June and this year will be no different. It’s very cool on the coast so pack layers, and the weather can be quick to change so be prepared. If you decide to stay on the Rock, you will need to park in the lot on the mainland and take the shuttle over. But entrance to the car park requires a code that you need to get ahead of time from the hotel so be sure to do that. Also, pack a light bag to take, I don’t recommend bringing a suitcase even if it’s on wheels. Everything is uphill on stones and it’s much easier to carry a small bag for your stay. Wishing you all the best!

        • Honey
          March 14, 2017 6:25am

          Thank you for all the information. Love the little hints that only someone who has been there can share. Enjoy your trip in June.
          Honey
          P.S. Will pack lightly!!

  • Gavrielle
    March 13, 2017 11:28pm

    There was a poster of Mont St-Michel on the wall of the classroom in which I started learning French, and it’s been on my list ever since. After your delightful description I will now add La Mere Poulard. Looking forward to visiting – in the off-season!

  • andrea
    March 13, 2017 11:40pm

    i’m literally drooling.

  • March 13, 2017 11:43pm

    Bonjour, David….. I first “met” you when Phil had what you were having in a fromagerie in Paris a couple years ago, and I immediately signed up for your blog. I did Europe on $5 a Day in 1969 and, even back then, a Madame Poulard omelette did not fit into my budget, so I went to a Mme Poulard knock-off and wasn’t impressed. But I was 22 and cheap, and what did I know?

    I am about to create a blog – though there will be food, it is not about food, it is about a long voyage I am about to take, so, believe me, I am NOT a competitor! – and I would love to know:

    What camera do you use?

    Bien à toi, Susan

    • Victoria
      March 16, 2017 10:07am

      If you’ll look through David’s site, I believe he tells what kind of camera he uses and other frequently asked questions.

      • Susan Nash
        March 16, 2017 1:24pm

        Merci, Victoria! I am a newbie on David’s site so haven’t dug deep yet…. but I will.

        I appreciate your note!

        Susan

        • March 16, 2017 3:01pm
          David Lebovitz

          Thanks, Susan – there’s a link in the right sidebar for a post I did on My Food Photography Gear. The pictures in this post were shot in very low light so aren’t the best quality, but considering the conditions, I was happy to be able to get most of the “action” in! : )

          • Susan Nash
            March 16, 2017 4:46pm

            Merci for the Photography info — I shall check it out.

            p.s. I think the low light enhanced the omelet shots

            Susan

  • Lee Kirkland
    March 14, 2017 12:04am

    Hi David,
    MStM was one of the first places I visited with my friend when we set off on the great adventure in our VW van in 1973. Will never forget the magic of that place. Our budget was so tight we didn’t eat out but now I must go back to experience Mme P’s omelette … and track down one of those magnificent copper bowls.

    • March 14, 2017 12:22am

      You just brought back a deep-seated memory: I’d stayed at a hotel in Brest — probably paid the equivalent of $2 — so I could take the bus to MSM in the a.m. At the bus station, in the salle d’attente / bar, I saw a small, French man in a black suit and black beret drinking a glass of vin rouge — at 8 o’clock in the morning. I said to myself, “You’re not in Kansas anymore!”

  • Anne Bourget
    March 14, 2017 1:28am

    The Mont is a magical place. Your article brought back many fond memories of Mere Poulard. When our omelettes arrived we let out a gasp since they were just huge. I was allowed in the kitchen and watched several women beating away. Once finished a huge chunk of Normandy butter is flung into a hot pan and when melted the eggs are added and placed on the wood burning fire where it rises to then be folded served. Once in the dining room you still hear the sound of the whisks hitting the bottom of the copper bowls. The stamina of the beaters was amazing.

    I was given a rather vague recipe by the kitchen, which I have framed in my kitchen: “Use two eggs per person–have the eggs at room temperature–whisk the eggs very well–melt plenty of salted butter in a tin-lined copper pan–cook very slowly–stirring with a fork all around the edges from time to time–remove from the fire often so that the omelette rises like a soufflé–turn out of pan and fold over and serve immediately”

    A million years ago I bought a French-made copper bowl from Fred Bridge that was a replica of a bowl for my K5 KitchenAid mixer. It gets a lot of use but when I am whipping eggs for an omelette I always think of those men and women standing at de la Mere Poulard whisking for hours on end.

    Thank you again for a great article.

    • March 14, 2017 5:41am
      David Lebovitz

      Ah, Fred Bridge! That was a wonderful shop, although you likely remember him being not the easiest person in the world ; )

      There’s a company that still makes copper KitchenAid bowls, I listed in my KitchenAid hacks a few years back, although I still like to whip whites by hand, especially now that I have a new bowl (!)

  • Deborah W
    March 14, 2017 4:55am

    David,
    Congratulations on the gift of your copper bowl! I can’t imagine a more worthy giftee, your good karma decided to embrace you in a most special way. I’m wondering if you brought it home and gazed upon it in its new environs, wondering about it’s age, experience and temperment; a treasure like that would seem to have a life of it’s own. May you have a long & happy life together.

  • Alan Beall
    March 14, 2017 5:05am

    In about 1962, I saw a National Geographic film on Mont Saint-Michel, and still remember what they did to make the omelets. They whipped in a hunk of butter, then another hunk, and then a third hunk. And I mean hunks the size of a cue ball. C’est tout. As a 12 year-old butter lover and butterball, I was astounded.

  • March 14, 2017 5:16am

    Your view of the Mont is one I haven’t seen before. Its every painters dream to paint here. I must go!!

  • March 14, 2017 8:44am

    Terrific post as usual. I love fluffy filled omelettes.

    I have a slight quibble with your source re MSM being the second most popular attraction after the TE though. I don’t think this can be right. The last time I looked Versailles was the most popular heritage attraction outside of Paris, MSM was second and Chenonceau third. The reason I know this statistic is because I point out to my clients how lucky they are to be visiting Chenonceau, which ‘only’ gets 900K visitors annually, whereas MSM gets 1-2M and Versailles 6-7M. To get an idea of just how many people you are likely to be sharing the place with, divide by 365. Plus I would point out that 300K visitors pa is a busy popular heritage attraction. Anything above half a million is off the scale.

  • March 14, 2017 9:23am

    David, that was a beautifully explained moment. I understood how you felt speechless. What a treasured memory. Thank you for sharing with us. I’ll just put that on my list of reasons I love the French. :)

  • Sasha
    March 14, 2017 9:54am

    My husband and I love to visit Normandy! One of our favourite places to stay is the little town called Saint-Jean-le-Thomas, which actually might be in Brittany…..
    Twice now we’ve visited this little town between Christmas and New Year, and walking on the beaches is just magical. But what’s really magical about this town, is the view you have on the Mont-Saint-Michel. Far away, for sure, yet so close. Both times we stayed at Le Chateau des Hautes, and as the name says it, it lies high on a hill, overlooking the village, the sea and…. Mont Saint Michel. Waking up on the mornings with that view….
    As an extra bonus, the landlady of Le Chateau taught me her secret to making the perfect Tarte Tartin, no secrets there!
    Our stay in Saint Jean le Thomas, however, did not include a visit to Le Mont. We did that earlier in the year in May, along with hundreds of other visitors. Now we have another reason to head up into that direction, cause I’m dying for myself to try out this iconic omelet!
    thanks for your write up about it!

  • MELarge
    March 14, 2017 11:26am

    Thank you always for your wonderful excursions. I am fascinated by that little stand for the cooper bowl but appreciate I can substitute a towel. But what about the fabulous long-handled omelette pan? Please tell me your upcoming post on cooper cookware will direct me to a vendor. I desperately need one, and the usual line up of French copper manufacturers doesn’t offer it in the U.S. Oh where, oh where can I buy one (or two or three…)?

    • March 14, 2017 11:33am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know the specific name for that pan, or where it’s from (I’m sure a shop in Villedieu-les-poêles has one since there are many copper shops there, if you want to do some searching) – You can also check my post, How to Find Items Mentioned on the Site.

    • Gooster
      March 29, 2017 3:44am

      What a wonderful post about the classic restaurant — Mont. St. Michel should be on everyone’s trip itinerary at some point in France — although high season can be trying. You are so fortunate to get one of those super heavy bowls. I’m guessing they are made under contract by Mauviel (they used to make products under no mark or under another sellars mark, like Sur La Table) or by the Atelier du Cuivre. It should also be good for jam work

      You must certainly try the lamb on your next visit.

  • March 14, 2017 12:26pm

    I enjoyed reading that. The omelet looks so beautiful in all the pictures.

  • Barbara Hannon
    March 14, 2017 2:47pm

    I’ve been to MSM several times, off season and with overnight stays. The Mont is magical at night. It is hard to believe a tide can move that fast. You could not outrun it. Astonishing. I wasn’t a fan of the omelette, too airy for my taste and too large. Another time, we had afternoon tea and that was perfectly lovely.

  • Noémie
    March 14, 2017 4:20pm

    Beautiful pictures !
    You are one lucky man with that bowl on your counter :)
    Thank you for the great article. Reminded me a little of the new Year’s eve I spent there with my boyfriend 10 years ago !!

    I saw you in the Métro this morning on my way to work… I was about to say “Hi David, how are you?” but then reminded myself that we don’t know each other :D

  • March 15, 2017 7:23am

    I love Mont Saint Michel and the night we spent there was wonderful, but I did not like the omelet I had. Too runny for me, and overpriced. I might have felt differently if they had given me a copper bowl though.

  • Tom
    March 15, 2017 11:20am

    Hi David,

    I have eaten at La Mere Poulard twice (both times in September, the off season, when the sea is still warm enough to swim in and the island is magic without the hordes, especially at night after the daytrippers have left – it is well worth the effort to stay on the island itself).

    What I remember most about the two omelettes I ate was that they had the hint of smoke from the wood burning fire. The fluffy, almost creamy, texture was fine but not remarkable in itself. Indisputably high quality ingredients. But it was the flavour of wood burning smoke that still stands out and I am still on the fence about it. Intriguing but does it detract from the overall flavours? A question whose answer likely varies from person to person.

  • RSW
    March 15, 2017 6:08pm

    Even after all those years of self-abuse, five minutes of beating would be tough. Interesting that in the photo the cook has his grip quite low on the whisk.

    • Deborah W.
      March 15, 2017 6:57pm

      Thanks…..provided my first sly smile of the day!

  • Jeanine
    March 16, 2017 4:28pm

    Ahhh, the Normands and their omelets natures. I’ve never been to Poulard and their omelet looks like the queen of omelets, but I find wherever you order one in Normandy, omelets are terrific. Whenever eating one I always imagine it being the equivalent of a down duvet: airy, light, creamy, comforting. Good thing I will be there again in 5 weeks, le sigh….!
    Ps. Made your whole lemon bars lately: best ever!!

  • Carrie
    March 16, 2017 6:12pm

    That omelette looks like the Jean Imbert ones I see in the pictures.

    Looking forward to your piece on Villedieau!

    I will be back in Paris on November and this restaurant you shared just might be on the itinerary!:)

  • Dick Selwood
    March 18, 2017 11:38am

    I think you might find this interesting
    It comes from
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/jun/03/how-to-make-perfect-omelette

    which was faster than scanning my copy of the book

    “As with all very simple things, the omelette has attracted a certain mystique amongst those convinced that there must be more to it than meets the eye. In the titular essay from the collected short works of Elizabeth David, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, the ‘awful genius’ of post-war food writing tells of a certain Madame Poularde, celebrated throughout France for her omelettes.

    The gourmands of France slathered over her light and fluffy creations, and indulged themselves with endless speculation as to her secret:

    “She mixed water with the eggs, one writer would say, she added cream asserted another, she had a specially made pan said a third, she reared a special breed of hens unknown to the rest of France claimed a fourth. Before long, recipes for the omelette de la mère Poulard began to appear in magazines and cookery books. Some of these recipes were very much on the fanciful side. One I have seen even goes so far to suggest she put foie gras into the omelette.”

    Finally, David writes, someone saw fit to ask Madame herself for her recipe. “I break some good eggs into a bowl, I beat them well, I put in a good piece of butter in the pan. I throw the eggs into it and I shake it constantly. I am happy, monsieur, if this recipe pleases you.”
    So no secret ingredients!

  • Amy in Hunting Valley, OH
    March 18, 2017 2:23pm

    Hello David, from cold, grey Northeast Ohio. I am at the stage in life where I want to divest myself from possessions. I truly don’t want any more things. Except for one of those copper bowls. There is something absolutely mesmerizing about the shape, the color, the texture .. I don’t know, but I deeply covet it.

    Thank you for a lovely story and those beautiful pictures. I will carry around that copper bowl in my mind.

  • March 18, 2017 11:52pm

    Mt. St. Michel is at the top of my bucket list and I will finally visit in early June. That omelet looks like 2 meals for me. I would love a crepe and some Normandy cidre if such things are to be found there. Considering that is the busy season, should I expect any difficulty getting into a restaurant? I also worry about taking the train from Paris to Renne and then the bus to Mt. St. Michel as being all booked up in advance.

    • March 19, 2017 9:38am
      David Lebovitz

      My take is that when/if you visit Mont Saint-Michel, you shouldn’t expect a lot of dining options. There is this restaurant and others, but for an everyday meal like a crêpe, you’d probably do better (and have more options) elsewhere in the region. I did like the omelet and it was certainly an experience to eat at the restaurant (I think they take reservations online, and they have other places and cafés on the island) but especially during the summer, there will be a lot more people on the island than when I went, in March.

      • Cat Ishikawa
        April 3, 2017 4:48am

        When last in Paris in November, 2002, my wife and I stayed at a hotel that seemed attached to the Gare de Lyon. In a tiny grocery store next t door, we found Normandy Cidre. Best cidre I’ve ever tasted and we have good cidre here in British Columbia. Does it still exist? Can’t discover online.

        • April 3, 2017 8:29am
          David Lebovitz

          yes, Normandy cider still exists and it’s widely available. There are artisan brands as well as commercial ones (which may or may not be made in Normandy.) Most grocery stores in France carry at least one brand of it, but smaller shops and grocers might not.

      • Cat Ishikawa
        April 4, 2017 1:19am

        Thanks for the tip on cidre. Do you have a favourite restaurant near Mt. St. Michel besides Mere P? I’m looking at Le Pre Sale. You think I’ll need a reservation for early June? Also, tried to get reservations at Le Cinq and L’Ambroserie but their websites don’t take single diners. Is that a Paris thing? Odd for a hotel restaurant.No problem getting reservations at Arpege and 4 other Paris restaurants.

  • Theresa
    March 24, 2017 2:10am

    David, What is the little cork gizmo the bowl is resting in? I would love one of those or its equivalent to sit my copper bowl inside.

  • adrian
    March 25, 2017 1:53pm

    Wow! Is that a French thing? Giving away things like that? Because I once had an appointment with J. Genin and as a parting gift he floored me with a 3-kilo slab of his own blend of chocolate. What a gesture.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Tommy
    April 1, 2017 7:07pm

    Hi David, my sister (who lived in Paris at the time and provided a bed for me) and I visited Mere Poullard and spent the night. Late November, there were only two tables of people in the restaurant. The streets were empty, it was foggy like out of a movie. Lamb superb, omelette great. Her cookies are yummy too. Waiter told us a joke, what’s the miracle of Mere Poullard? That you can get 30 euros for an omelette!

  • Sueb
    April 1, 2017 7:46pm

    We highly recommend splurging and spending a night on the island. We were there in the fall and it was crowded during the day, but as soon as the buses leave it becomes magical. Our guest room was high up on the hill and there was a thunderstorm that evening. The lightning over the mud flats was quite dramatic. I didn’t know about the Mauviel factory store or I’m sure there would have been a small something in my carry on bag.