Bonjour my lovely blogettes and welcome back to French France. Here we are again, off on our Winter travels after a whirlwind dash around Derbyshire and Devon, catching up with folks. Thanks to all my girls, Cooper Sons, my cocktail gang et al for making the effort and turning out to eat, drink and be merry, it was fun and fab to see you all, I really miss you guys. My usual apologies to those of you I didn’t manage to see. I know, the sorries are getting boring, but time is so short and transport often difficult. We hired a car once again but spent the more mobile days visiting my Mum. I took her to see the Downton movie which she loved (and picked up a £100 parking fine for parking in the disabled bay where bloody shop mobility told me to park whilst I collected a wheelchair in Meadowhall!!!. I was fuming. That left a very sour taste indeed but I dealt with it and didn’t let it spoil our day). Timberland kindly sorted a couple of issues with the van then we said our emotional goodbyes and set off to Devon to see the kids for a few days. Ladram Bay was great as always but the weather in Devon was absolutely hideous! It hardly stop raining!! So much so that we got stuck in the mud trying to get the van off our pitch (never trust a 5 ton tag axle on wet grass!) Matthew fed us lots of his amazing food. It made a very nice change not to have to bother with cooking. He’s actually quite good, I taught him well 😉. We managed a couple of pleasant nips out in Lucy’s car to nearby Beer and Sidmouth and also had a day in Newquay so Matt could choose his birthday gift, a new surfboard. All in between the stormy showers. It was good to be in their company. The young uns have an enviable amount of energy, it rubs off for a while!
Anyway Sunday soon came around and after Matt had treated us to his stupendous Ladram carvery, we hit the road and pointed Dolly’s Tour Bus in the general direction of Folkestone. It was an uneventful drive down, (apart from roadworks on the M20 with a confusing diversion), always the best kind. We got there around 11pm and got our heads down in the Carpark ready for the 6am morning train.
Mark and I are real creatures of habit so, as always, we aimed straight for Honfleur once we landed on French soil. I won’t bore you with any more pics of dear old Honfy. I’ve covered it several times before. Suffice it to say, it feels as much like home as Bakewell. We simply adore it. It’s just so, well…….French! We had coffee and Cognac at our favourite street cafe and bought locally produced Calvados and fresh scallops straight from a boat on the little harbour. I visited my fave little boutique and made a wee purchase, rude not to. It was a really lovely, albeit short, nip. Mark’s Birthday was fast approaching though and he wanted to spend it on Mont st. Michel. That was our next stop after stocking up with lots of yummy birthday treat goodies. When we arrived, the damned rain had followed us from Devon. Bugger! We had a full day and night of it, it absolutely chucked it down. We hunkered down, ate Galettes and lots of chocolate and watched DVDs. Not so bad really! Miraculously on the 17th, we awoke to bright blue skies. Happy Birthday Markie! He had a wonderful birthday. Lots of lovely messages, cards and gifts from back home made his day, (made me cry, no change there then!!). The good old Mont never fails to please. It’s an amazing part of the world. Again, I won’t repeat photos as you’ve seen them all before.
Time for us to drift on again, just a hop, skip and a jump up the coastal road which runs around the Baie du Mont-st-Michel from St-Malo to Cancale, the Oyster capital of France! We have never actually stayed here, only driven through it and couldn’t park up so we carried on. This time we’ve done our homework. We’re staying on the Aire just up from the Port, at La Ville Balet. We had a little pit stop stop en route at St-Jean-Benoit, a great little village Aire by the water tower. Very clean and on hardstanding. We got the Bromptons out and had a smashing cycle ride along the edge of the bay. It’s all about the Oyster around these parts. The shellfish trade is massive. We even saw Oyster Vending machines, different grades in trays or baskets, complete with lemon and mini bottle of wine!! Genius!
And so, on to Cancale itself. The Aire was a right pain in the armpit to get into. We pulled up to the barrier, it was very unclear what to do next as the ticket machine said ticket free. A big Derbyshire Chuffin Hell from me! I ended up having to phone the man who, ten minutes later, arrived red faced on a scooter, very smiley and apologetic. The machine had run out of tickets. Not just me being thick then!! We got in and settled. Ten Euros a night without electricity and an extra €3.40 for water. Not so cheap but well situated. After a bite of lunch we had a stroll down the hill into the Port. It was far prettier than I remembered. Beautiful actually. Very typical Brittany. On first impressions, we love it.
It’s a gem of a place. A delightful little harbour village. There are lots of characterful, bustling, bars and restaurants along the water front. At the far end on a stone jetty, locals sell Oysters and other shellfish from brightly striped canvas stalls. A vintage van serves bread with delicious sea salt butter and glasses of cold Muscadet. The atmosphere is fab. It’s milling with folk of all ages, sitting on the harbour walls and on the picnic benches provided, just tucking in. As the tide pulls out the Oyster Beds can be seen. Miles of them! The beach below the jetty is pure white, years and years of crushed Oyster shells rather than sand!
Up the hill from the Port is the old town. It has a beautiful old Church and many interesting little side streets with shops and galleries. Épices Roellinger, is an Epicerie selling only spices from old oak sea chests and was just incredible. You could smell it from streets away. It was a treasure trove of colourful, aromatic herbs and spices from France and faraway lands, blended with Breton seaweed. Their own spice blends and the pepper, vanilla, chilli pepper and cinnamon collections are supposed to reflect Saint-Malo’s seafaring spirit! It’s like a step back in time. Back in the square, there is even an old fashioned French Cinema. On Sundays there is a street market in Cancale. Of course we had to stick around for that. You know I love a foodie market!! It didn’t disappoint either. We bought roasted meat straight from the wood fired spit, loads of veg and locally grown Ceps (expensive at €19 per kilo but the guy showed me how to flake and dry them for future use). The scallops here were more expensive than Honfleur but they were apparently hand dived.
We found a charming little bar on the sea front with drinks served from a boat inside. No crisps or pork scratching just Oysters to nibble on! We sat and drank Brittany Cider out of pots not glasses and watched the world go by. Happy days. This place has gone right up to the top of our ever growing list of favourites.
Time again to wander on. Only ten minutes around the headland. Can’t resist a beach day. We are staying at Le Guimorais on the edge of St-Coulomb. It’s a free Aire at the top of a sandy spit. On one side is a rocky basin facing Rotheneuf where the boats are moored and on the other side a stretch of sandy white beach, not dissimilar to Cornwall. We’ve been here many times before. There’s a nice seafood restaurant above the beach. Bonus! If I ever came into big money, Rotheneuf is where I’d choose to live. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and is only 15 minutes out of St Malo’s medieval Intra muros. It has everything we need and I am in love with the elegant shuttered houses overlooking the cove. The stuff that dreams are made of. It’s safe to swim in the sheltered bay over that side.
Well it’s time to get the maps out and plan our next stop folks. To be honest, we’re just going to play it safe and go wherever the weather looks best, all provided it’s more or less in the right direction.
Hope you enjoyed our first few days and that you’ll join us again soon. On that note I shall bid you all a cheery toodle pip as I must now tend to a more practical issue. Laundry!! There’s always a downside to every adventure!!
Catch you later folks. Much love. Stay safe ❤️