Monday, 24 May 2010

Wet and wild out west

Late last night I arrived back at Plelauff from a really lovely weekend. With Pascal’s generosity and assistance I saw the 'Cote Sauvage', Carnac, Quiberon, St Augustin and St Goustan. Friday night we settled in with a late night Pizza, very different to NZ. The base is very thin but not hard and was covered with various types of very thin sausage, cheese, sauces and washed down with a nice red wine of a beautifully dense colour. We walked for a bit in the village and headed back for urgently needed rest.

On Saturday we went kayaking off the coast with one of Pascal's friends who runs a kayaking business. The location was St Joseph de l’Océan à Portivy.We had fabulous weather and Eric our teacher spoke a little bit of English as did his wife so I had a productive lesson what to do and not do in a kayak. Did you know that most of your efforts should be with your feet and legs, not your arms? Somehow I made it to a little island in the Gulf of Morbihan with a sandy beach where we could rest before the row back to the mainland. There we discovered that the suncreme we had been using wasn't actually suncreme. It was simply a light moisturiser. Oh oh! After a few hours in very bright sun Pascal was looking like a bottle of Rose and I was only slightly better. Along the way to and from the island I saw enormous orange jellyfish swimming near my kayak. Fabulous! And the temperature was an amazing 29 degrees. Yes, I did see topless bathing.

Was I tired and relieved to be back at the beach? You bet. As I sloshed through the slippery seaweed at the water’s edge I found some cute crabs. The male was on top of the female, protecting her from me. The male is much bigger than the female. Neither of them was at all aggressive, simply trying to sashay sideways out of my hands.

After a quick clean up and change of clothes we headed to Eric's house for a BBQ with his family. Invariably, the french people I meet are extremely hospitable, generous, kind and jolly. Pascal has a large group of very close friends. The men are sensitive and extremely supportive of each other. Friends and family are the centre of French life. It’s not really the case so much in NZ. The differences between NZ and France are becoming more obvious to me and although I’m still in the ‘honeymoon’ stage of my French experience I am completely clear on which I prefer.

The strawberries I’ve eaten in France are smaller and have the most wonderful flavour. It’s also easy to buy strawberry juice for drinking, the juice of Clementine oranges and other tasty delights.

Another delight is the shops. I am so impressed. The presentation is exquisite, the staff are so friendly, helpful and professional that just the experience of going into a shop (and not even to buy) is enjoyable. I’ve needed a new swimsuit for a long time.

The vendeuse was charming, making suggestions as to how I could add to my ensemble with things I couldn’t afford but it was fun anyway. Personality plus is in evidence with the shop assistants and proprietors. I ended up buying a simple one-piece and tie-thing to go with it. Unfortunately the budget could not run to a dress and pantaloons to match.

The wine shop was amazing. ‘Fine’ is how you would categorise it. The choice of french wine was purposeful and high class for any budget, the proprietor really knew every wine intimately and provided a very professional advice. Also in the shop were other fares to match a dining occasion such as beautiful chocolates, specialised ciders, unusual jams. If you found yourself unexpectedly invited to dinner there would be no excuse to arrive empty-handed. The bottle of red that Pascal bought was automatically wrapped as a gift with a beautiful and classy sticker on it to acknowledge the shop it was bought from. Everything is done with care and extra attention.

On Sunday we went further afield. Quiberon is at the end of a peninsular and very scenic. Just off the coast are islands, the largest is Belle Isle and really beautiful but there wasn't time to visit it.

Carnac is famous for its megalithic alignments- dolmens (with a stone across the top) and menhirs which are placed singly but often in arrangements. No-one is certain what they mean but they were established 4,000 years ago. Those of you who have read Asterix comics will know what these standing stones are called. The area is much bigger than Stonehenge but is of a different style. They are now protected by a fence so I couldn’t give them a hug.

St Goustan is a resort town. It’s very high class. There is beautiful architecture of mixed age and a very vibrant community. We arrived during market day with people selling the wares they wanted to pass on. What an eclectic mix of old furniture, homewares and even ancient diving equipment.

Dinner for me was a crepe au chocolât and a galette for Pascal at St Goustan. We had a running joke that every time he ordered a coffee it seemed to be smaller. It’s not the size, it’s the quality, he explained. They don’t do big cups of anything in Brittany except the bollé for cider. Water is always on the table.

I got back to Plélauff late and poor Pascal had to then drive an hour and a half back to Rennes. Perhaps next weekend I’ll try making my way to Rennes. In the meantime I need to take care of an extremely sore throat and complete all my assignments each night.

Sorry about the photos, they wouldn't upload, will try again later in batches.


Defogger said...

Hey Frances, what an awesome time you are creating for yourself, and so wonderful to hear about. You're really jumping in with both feet and giving things a go. All power to you. Yeah. Pascal sounds like a real treat. He has worked out your worth spending time with. Honeymoons don't have to end.

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