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Motorway Service Station Catering


Gardian

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As we all know, these are a necessary evil. Having just returned from a France - Germany - Czech Republic - Austria - Germany - France round trip, I thought that I’d share our general experience!

France (6/10)

A bit patchy. Sadly, a lot of places are proclaiming the arrival of a McDo as “a new restaurant”. The demise of the ‘jambon braise’ with madeira sauce and chips is almost complete! Mrs G always snootily turns her nose up at it, but it suits me! Generally good puds though.

Germany (5/10)

We just felt that several of the stopping points were getting a bit like the motorway network - rather run-down. (The number of major motorway re-building projects on the go, was all very well, but created horrendous delays). However, a freshly-cooked omelette, ham & bacon cost ‘buttons’ and was excellent.

Czech (2/10)

Perhaps the least said the better! Infrequent & grim. We stopped at one just after entering the country. Mrs G had a sort-of toasted ham & cheese bap - OK. I reviewed the hot food offering being offered by Cruella de Ville. It was a bit like a fried spam slice, but off of a large ‘joint’ of it. I asked if there were any other options & the gist of her reply was that I didn’t have to have the greasy wedge chips with it. Went for it, with loads of ketchup to take the taste away. Best bit - the cost. £4 incl drinks!

Austria (10/10)

The 1st place, just outside Vienna, seemed to be privately run. A really tasty ‘toastie’ with ham & cheese, freshly prepared + a monster ‘Schnitzel’ & chips. £5 & £9 respectively. Could have had the day’s ‘formule’, which was soup + spag bol + apple tart for €5.50.

The real sensation though was a place near Salzburg. The company was ‘Landzeit’ and the restaurant offered an open-air terrace with views over the adjacent lake. No self service (except for salads) - traditionally dressed waiting staff take your order (from an extensive menu). Just really, really nice. Immaculately clean. Not cheap, but hey.

A variety of places !

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Useful if you need a loo or a coffee stop, and having plenty of aires in France can be most useful for a quick pause.  When on my own, I have taken to carrying tins of mixed salad, quite tasty actually, for a quick bite, and then eat properly at the hotel in the evening.  When with OH, he seems to want to eat a proper meal, they can vary, but I have had worse. 

Too long since I last drove in Germany to say, I have now no memory of how good or bad they were, but not surprised by the Austrian ones, always a lovely country!!

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Well the situation will need to improve whether that's through social media embarrassing the heck out of the bad ones or they go bust. With electric cars becoming popular longer stops will be necessary whilst charging. Currently you can take it or leave it but service stations try to sell add ons but car drivers want to fuel and go, be that a pee or back on the road. With electric cars they will have customers who will be around a bit longer and will they tolerate bad food?
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France

There are some good ones and some not so good.

On our regular journey from Saint Malo to Fr. house we've noticed that several Aires have been closed for maintenance and upgrade work.

Some of the cafe and restaurant facilities are very good. One we like at Aire de la Vendee has changed a lot. Their main restaurant still serves the typical full French lunch although the decor has an American diner theme.

There's another one we visit near our home because it has a staff / visiting entrance accessed without being on the motorway. We like to walk to it through the vineyards and call in for coffee. They changed from the traditional Fr. main restaurant and it's now Burger King. There is still a Paul cafe for traditional light lunches and coffee etc.
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The banana and I have taken to googling the aires with "Paul" concessions before setting out on a motorway trip. You can be sure of good coffee and tasty viennoiseries for breakfast; they have little quiches that will tide you over a lunchtime stop; and you can revert to the breakfast goodies and/or cakes for tea.

Shops in some of the larger aires do now offer a good selection of takeaway sandwiches (not up to M&S standards, though).

I vowed never to succumb to another motorway cooked meal after a particularly disgusting one ingested just south of Avranches - ?aire du Mont St Michel.

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Hi Gardian. Had a nice lunch of jambon braisé carved from the bone in front of you with chips and sauce madère at a motorway service station last week. It was on the A11 Les Sarge near Le Mans, and with a starter of crudités cost E13.50. Sign above the counter said it was a home-cooked speciality of the kitchen and certainly looked like it. Very nice it was too although one serving could easily have fed two!

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Ah, Wildhorses. A man after my own heart !

Mrs G is seriously misguided (as she he has been over many things over the years). She prefers salad-ey, risotto type of things, which in my humble view are extremely dodgy.

Even the lethal Czech fried Spam would be better than that sort of health stuff.

There’s nothing like a dose of the jambon braise (freshly cooked-ish), moist, & a good portion of chips and sauce. Have made a note of your service station for a future ‘passing’. Thanks.

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