Friday, 24 February 2012

bretagne, day 1

Finally getting around to posting some photos from my weekend in Bretagne (Brittany, in English). An excessive amount, and this is just day one! We left for the weekend on Friday evening, five of us piling into a small car and immediately finding ourselves in the bumper to bumper traffic of thousands of Parisiens heading out of the city for the two week school break. Bad timing. We made it to Auray, our hosts home town, after about 5 hours on the road, pretty much went straight to bed, and had a lovely sleep in the next morning (shutters kept my room completely dark - heaven!).  At breakfast I had my first taste of Bretagne butter - and let me tell you, it is to die for. It has flecks, no, flakes of local sea salt embedded in it, which is the most fantastic thing. Elevates bread and butter to a whole new level. 

Our first stop the next morning was at the 'boat cemetery' close to the small town of Bono, a short drive a way. A short walk through a piney forest was lovely - the scent of trees and dirt a welcome change from the streets of Paris. 
 Bono was a picturesque holiday town filled with white (and the occasional lilac coloured) houses with pretty blue shutters. Most of the homes had their shutters drawn as very few people actually live in the town throughout the winter. We caught the last couple of vendors as they were closing up from the morning's market and bought sticky sweet crêpes filled with housemade salted butter caramel. Crêpes and galettes (their savoury counterpart) are a specialty of the region and we waited while the vendor made several of the dark buckwheat galettes for us to take home for supper.

 The road crossing to this island was covered by the tide waters by the time we made it here. In the summertime, the island is a popular place for hosting weddings - just need to make sure that everyone arrives on time!

 As we continued down the road we stopped at these sandy stone cliffs to admire the colour of the sea. Rose was a very willing and photogenic model - me, not so much.

 Our host, Thomas, being the perfect guide. "Over there is an island."
 We saw quite a few families out for a walk along the top of the cliffs. What an inspiring place to be able to take a casual weekend walk! Wish I had this kind of view on my doorstep (I guess the Eiffel Tower isn't anything to complain about though).
 For a late lunch we stopped at Quiberon, a seaside town obviously catering to scores of beachgoing holidayers, with plenty of shops and ferries heading out to the nearby islands. We had a very filling lunch of grosses patates, literally large potatoes - topped with mushrooms, ham, cream, and three types of cheese. If you ran out of cheese and sauce (an accomplishment in itself) no need to worry - a pot of warm cream will be delivered to your table to keep your potato swimming in richness.

 On our way back towards Auray, we stopped briefly at a beach where we could see the sails of kiteboarders over the dunes. They were just packing up by the time we made it there, but the view over the water as the sun was setting was well worth the detour. Also a chance to test the water to determine if it was swimmable - consensus? definitely not.

 This wasparc à huîtres - oyster park - where oysters were patiently growing into someone's supper. It wasn't oyster season at the moment though, so we didn't get the chance to try any. They sometimes have problems with people stealing the valuable oysters, so there is always someone close by to keep an eye on visitors.
 Then came a fashionably late dinner around 11 pm of galettes - the savoury version of crepes made with dark buckwheat flour. These were heated in a pan (with plenty of butter, of course) and then topped with egg, cheese, ham, and mushrooms. Camille, our master chef, did a fabulous job and they were salty, cheesy, and filling and served with bubbly, sweet cider. Perfect end to the day.

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