If you close your eyes and think about France one of the images that springs to mind for me is a tower of seafood (fruit de mer) artfully arranged on a bed of ice.
Even sitting in the famous Balthazar restaurant in New York which is a famous French brasserie there is a collective gasp when one of it's famous tiered dishes of seafood is brought out with some diners even taking photos.
You don't need to spend a fortune to be treated to an impressive platter of seafood in France. Whether you like a simple bowl of mussels marinated in white wine with piping hot French fries and copious amounts of French bread to mop up the juices, or if you like to push the boat out and indulge in oysters or a seafood platter here are some excellent places to add to your address book.
Overlooking the harbour in La Rochelle is André's which is a very popular seafood restaurant. Decorated in a kitsch seaside theme which is perfect for this type of restaurant it has earned it's reputation over a number of years. Their sea on a plate selection starts from 19€70 per person and you will be presented with a delightful freshly caught selection of local seafood.
If you'd like to be closer to the experience of learning where oysters come from join other seafood lovers at Archacon at La cabane 57. This is not a smart restaurant, but you join others at long tables eating oysters literally as soon as they are caught next to the cabin which belongs to the oyster farmers. Open all year round, with views over the famous Pyla dunes and close to Bird Island. Learn about how oysters are produced and harvested in a friendly atmosphere amongst the locals.
If you are in Paris there are masses of restaurants serving fruit de mer but a good recommendation is always a busy restaurant full of locals. In the 8th arrondissement Brasserie La Lorraine is not only a restaurant but a seafood market selling fresh products for clients to take home. They have four other seafood restaurants around Paris.
An innovative product and worth a try if you love oysters is oyster flavored ice cream. Available from the superb ice cream shop La Martiniere on the Ile de Ré the choice of flavours is breathtaking as are the queues in the height of season but their products are definitely worth the wait.