By Victoria McGuin

I visited Le Relais Bressan restaurant and café on a rainy day, so the view to the ocean was shrouded in mist. However, the ambiance from my host, Thierry Clerc, more than made up for the weather.

As I sat enjoying a creamy cappuccino and croissant (made with French flour), a steady stream of visitors came through the doors. Many greeted Thierry like an old friend – he clearly has a loyal following.

I watched the umming and ahing over the selection of sweet treats and cakes. It’s certainly a tough decision, with offerings such as peanut and chocolate tart, gluten-free coconut meringue jam cake, and strawberry brûlée tart.

Thierry came to Australia from Burgundy 30 years ago, “I was imported with the Hilton Hotel,” he laughed. He had a restaurant in Brisbane for 13 years before moving with his wife, Cindy, to Flaxton.

“We’ve been here 15 years this month,” Thierry said proudly.

The restaurant offers classic French fare. “I would try to change the menu, but people want the popular dishes, snails, Duck a l’Orange, crème brûlée, crêpe Suzette.”  

There is French beer on tap and a selection of French wine to complement the meal. (Thierry also offers some Australian dishes for those not in the mood for French flavours.)

“Our café also has light lunches, fresh baguettes, cauliflower and salmon gratin, and our cream of sweet potato soup, which I have been making for 28 years!” Cindy also makes all the cakes on the premises.

This month, a local florist will be occupying a room at the front of the café, so fragrant flowers and attractive blooms will also welcome visitors.

Thierry loves being here, but also visits his French home for six weeks a year. “I actually have a house in the countryside where I grew up. People here can rent it, just come and see me. The village only has 560 people and a quarter of those are my family!”

Business is steady, and Christmas Day lunch is a popular choice for many. “I am so grateful to the locals who support us and regularly visit,” Thierry said. “I want to thank them very much.”

The coffee shop is open Thursday – Sunday, 8am – 4pm, and Sunday 8am – 10.30am for a breakfast special.  Le Relais Bressan is at 344-346 Montville Mapleton Road, Flaxton QLD 4560. Phone: 07 5445 7157.