Paris – Dubai – Singapore

Friday 14 June 2013

Today is all about being on the move:
  • Checkout
  • Fill up the tank (more complicated than it sounds)
  • Drop off hire car (much complicated than it sounds)
  • Get tax refund docs stamped
  • Check in for flights
  • Wait for 2 hours
  • Fly to Dubai (6 1/2 hours)
  • Transit (3 hours)
  • Fly to Singapore (9 hours)
  • Collect bags
  • Taxi to Scarlet Hotel
  • Check in
We start check out at 12 noon of Friday and check in at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon.
Shattered! Seriously!
A steal at 29,000 euro and thats duty free!

A steal at 29,000 euro and thats duty free!

The last lunch …

Thursday 13 June 2013
Alas today is our last day in Burgundy. We decided this morning that we would pull the pin this afternoon and do the long drive back to Paris and the airport.
Breakfasting in style

Breakfasting in style

Francoises tells us that it can take 4 to 5 hours to get to the airport (depending on the traffic).  Plus the Charles de Gaulle airport traffic controllers and the trains have been on strike (sure to cause massive confusion). And did I mention that we have to get rid of the hire car (if you have ever tried to do this at CDG you will understand what I mean).
In the morning we have no appointments so after a leisurely breakfast we pack our bags and go for a quick jaunt to visit some of our favourite places.  Before you know it we are running late for our lunch at Domaine Olivier Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet.  It is a tasting of wines with a set menu.  As I am driving later today I abstain from the tasting (ummm not nearly as much fun without any wine).
Howard give Madame Leflaive a peck on the cheek

Howard give Madame Leflaive a peck on the cheek

Dropping into the village for lunch

Dropping into the village for lunch – Pulingy Montrachet

Unfortunately the service is drawn out and this puts us late for our next tasting at the Bouchard Pere & Fils in Beaune.  Bouchard is one of the largest producers in Burgundy and the extensive ageing cellars for the premier and grand crus are in the old Beaune castle and ramparts.  The little Cecile is our guide and provides a extensive history lesson of the castle, the Bouchard family and the winery as well as leading us through the old cellars above and the elaborate gardens above.
Chateau Bouchard

Chateau Bouchard

Bottles of wine are crammed into every crevice

Down below bottles of wine are crammed into every crevice

Gardens

Up above the lovely gardens

While having the tasting a big storm hits.  It was 32 degrees before the tasting and 12 after.  Jill drives us back to Nuits St Georges like a bat out of hell, cause we are late for our final tasting.  Its now 5:00 pm and we have to skip Faiverly and we say goodbye to Francoises, Bill, Jill and Andrew, pack up the car and hit the road.
It’s still raining and we can feel the wind pushing the car around as we travel along the A6 to Paris.  The first 1 1/2 hours is difficult driving, but the sky slowly clears and soon we are again driving through sunshine.  Its now 8:00 at night and we hit the ring road around Paris travelling south to north,  the traffic is bumper to bumper.  Is this still peak hour traffic or is it like this all the time?
A Parisian traffic jam

A Parisian traffic jam

As we negotiate the ring road Howard’s day is made when he spots a procession of super cars, their drivers doing their best to race in the traffic.  There is a Nissan GTR, followed by a Mercedes Benz AMG 63, pursued by a Ferrari 599, being chased by a Ford GT40.  Anyone who knows cars will be impressed by this, or so Howard reassures me.
I must say the French are really really courteous drivers – NOBODY hogs the fast lane and always pull back to the slower lanes after they have finished overtaking.
By 9:30 we make it to the airport, but it takes another 30 minutes to find the hotel.  The drive to CDG has been very stressful. You cannot take your eyes off the road for a moment and must always watch the signs to avoid a wrong turn. I am exhausted. I’ve booked us into the Marriott Hotel … but there is a little problem, apparently I’ve booked us in for Friday night not Thursday night.  Now we have to pay for Thursday night (at full price) as well, bookings.com have already taken the money for Friday night and require 24 hours notice for a free cancellation.  Howard steps in to prevent me from having a mini melt down in the reception. But no budging on a refund for the Friday night we don’t need.
Its 10:30 by the time we settle in our overpriced room and order some overpriced room service for dinner.  Whew … glad that’s over.

L’Imaginarium, Domaine Comte Senard, Domaine Bruno Colin and Domaine Simon Bize & Fils

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Big day today, Jill has organised a jam packed itinerary.  Luckily, all we have to do is be ready when Jills tells us and do what she tells us to do.

First stop L’Imaginarium – a sort of wine theme park/museum.  Gregoir from Domaine Jean Claude Boisset has arranged for us to do a tour for free. It is dedicated to the history,  production and appreciation of the fine wines of Burgundy.  The place is huge and we spend over an hour investigating the displays and shows, including a puppet show.  All the light and audio shows are alternatively in French and then English and are dreadfully one-eye against the English (quite amusingly so actually).

There is huge bottle shop and tasting area but we don’t have time to dally as we need to be at Domaine Comte Senard in Aloxe Corton for a tour of the cellars and lunch/wine tasting.

in Aloxe Corton

in Aloxe Corton

The famous hill of Corton

The famous hill of Corton

This is a much more commercial production that the traditional burgundian winery.  A young man leads us around the gardens and then into a recently rediscovered cellar (it had been bricked up during World War 2 to hide the wines from the Nazi’s occupation).  Our guide obviously has been given a script to follow and will not be distracted from his role, no matter how hard we try.

The Comte's rediscovered cellar

The Comte’s rediscovered cellar

Old turret - Domaine Comte Senard

Old turret – Domaine Comte Senard

Lunch is a chicken mousse followed buy a devinely rich beef burgundy with some deadly creamy potato gratin. I’m sure there is more butter and cream in these dishes that I would eat in a month back home in Australia.  But OMG it tastes good!  Oh the wines were pretty good too.

Domaine Comte Senard is an old wealthy family winery, our next tasting is with a new up and coming wine maison Domain Bruno Colin et Fils in Saint Audin.  We are greeted by a lovely young lady that is a new employee of the winery.  Any lack of knowledge about the winery itself is more than made up by her enthusiasm for food and wine.

Cellar of Domaine Marc Colin

Cellar of Domaine Marc Colin

But wait there is more … we have one more stop Domaine Simon Bize in Savigny Les Beaune (where H and I had lunch on Sunday).

Simon Bize & Fils

Simon Bize & Fils

Wow this was a weird tasting …. although all our appointments have been made in advance and all confirmed.  Here we were left waiting on the street outside a nondescript house for some time before Simon Bize’s Japanese wife cooly greeted us and let us see a little of the large warehouse.  It is customary to offer a taste of the house wines with these appointments.  It feels like we are hanging around like unwanted guests at the end of a party as she reluctantly disappears and then reappears with with one bottle and then another.  It got really uncomfortable when Simon Bize, himself, shows up tired and dirty from a day working in the fields looking like he is about to have a nervous breakdown.  Get me out of here!

Domaine P Dubreuil-Fontaine and Ma Cuisine

Tuesday 12 June 2013

Buttery croissants, luscious jams, crusty baguette … ummm breakfast heaven… must try harder to resist tomorrow.

The name says it all

The name says it all

This morning we are off to Domaine P Dubreuil-Fontaine in the lovely village of Pernard Vergelesses with the lovely Christine Dubreuil. This visit is organised by Andrew Hood who has long time connections with the vineyard.  They have a lovely ancient cellar set up as a tasting room.

Waiting for our appointment

Waiting for our appointment

The cellar

The cellar

Christine is the current winemaker for the well respected family business.  Her father drops in to give her a message and stops to entertain us when she has to pop out.  Like many of the older generation French his English is as poor as my French. But we still have an interesting chat.

Next stop is lunch in Beaune the capital of the burgundy wine district.  After snavelling a rare and excellently positioned car park we head through the central square to Ma Cuisine.

Beautiful Beaune

Beautiful Beaune

By chance we run into Becky Wasserman and Russell Horne outside the restaurant.  I can tell by the reaction of the others that I’m supposed to be impressed.  Bill and Jill are listening with rapt attention to Becky’s words and Andrew is trying to make intelligent comments.   Howard is gesturing to me to take a phone of them.  Ummm what am I missing?  Geeze I wasn’t that excited when I saw the Pope in Milan last year!  Turns out that Becky was instrumental in bringing Burgundy to the attention of the rest of world 30 years ago.  She is a sainted figure in Burgundy!

Ma Cuisine

Ma Cuisine

Run by another husband and wife team Ma Cuisine represents the best of the restaurants in the area.  A traditional but everchanging blackboard menu based on seasonal local produce and a extensive winelist that has the boys drooling.  Careful this might get expensive.

Scallops

Scallops

Rabbit terrine

Rabbit terrine

Wines at lnuch

Wines at lunch

Happy J

Happy J

Duck

Duck

Steak

Steak

More of our wines at lunch

More of our wines at lunch

Decisions decisions ... I choose fresh fig tart!

Decisions decisions … I choose fresh fig tart!

Sated and very happy we stroll back across the square to the Athanaeum … the most amazing shop.  An extensive book and curiosity store dedicated to the food and wine of France and more specifically Burgundy.

After finding Howard who has managed to get wander off we leisurely drive back to our hotel to while the afternoon  hanging in the sitting room and conversing with turtles.

The sitting room

The sitting room

Madame De Loisy's back courtyard

Madame De Loisy’s back courtyard

Turtles love apple

Turtles love apple

 

Jean Claude Boisset, La Chambolle and Domaine Comte de Vogue

Monday 10 June 2013

We get a good nights sleep in preparation for what is going to be an epic week of fine wine and delicious meals.  It all starts with the best croissants that Nuits has to offer, these delicious pastries are so buttery it is almost criminal, smothered with Francoise’s home made cherry jam they are irresistible (must try harder tomorrow morning).

Out morning tasting is just down the street with Gregoir Patriat at Jean Claude Boisset (Gregoir is pretty irresistible as well).  This is our third or fourth visit with Gregoir! He is good looking and has a refreshingly non-traditional French attitude.  He leads us through the beautiful gardens into the winery and down into the cellars and the tasting room.  We are treated to 5 white wines and 4 red wines mainly from the 2011 vintage as well as a very lovely 2005 Les Charbonnieres.

Gardens at Jean Claude Boisset

Gardens at Jean Claude Boisset

Gregoire sets Howard straight

Gregoir sets Howard straight

Tasting cellar at Jean Claude Boisset

Tasting cellar at Jean Claude Boisset

Les Charbonnieres 2005

Les Charbonnieres 2005

Bill Lane, Andrew Hood, Howard Stewart and Gregoir Patriat

Bill Lane, Andrew Hood, Howard Stewart and Gregoir Patriat

For lunch we are heading to an old favourite Le Chambolle in the lovely village of Chambolle Musigny operated by the husband (chef) and wife (front of house) Eric and Martine Claudel.  Jill and Bill are greeted like the old friends that they are.  We all sip on a bottle of cremant de bourgogne while Bill, Andrew and Howard thoroughly investigate of the wine.

La Chambolle, Chambolle Musigny

La Chambolle, Chambolle Musigny

Fois gras

Fois gras

White asparagus

White asparagus

Duck with crustaceans

Duck with crustaceans

Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy

Yummmm pie!

Yummmm pie!

After an absolutely delicious lunch we head to Domaine Comte de Vogue also in Chambolle Musigny.  Francois Millet is the ever precise and lyrical poet wine maker.  Comte de Vogue is a very small but prestigious winery and we have been lucky to return there each year.  Monsieur Millet enthrals us with his poetic descriptions of the the vintage and the different wines.  He is hypnotic in English I can only image what his descriptions are like in his native language.  The tasting here is straight from the barrel, the wines are so precious that anything not swallowed or spat is returned very carefully to the barrel.

The sign says it all

The sign says it all

We return to Madame de Loisy for a quite afternoon before we wander over to the main street of the village and take a seat in the square at L’Etoile  for a few quite drinks and a light dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Burgundy

Sunday 09 June 2013

I must say that it is certainly quiet at Hotel St Michel at night, cause it is completely isolated in the forest that surrounds Chateau Chambord.   The restaurant finishes at 8:45 so by 10:30 everyone is signed off and put to bed (there being nothing else to do).  Even the kids that have been running up and down and screeching in the halls and terrorising everyone in the restaurant have gone to sleep.
The down side to complete silence at night is that the birds are really rowdy when they start tweeting at 5:00 in the morning.  Nether the less we managed to sleep in until about 8:30 and are on the road by 10:00 (exceptionally early for us).
Today we have a 3 hour 45 minute drive to Nuits Saint Geroges in Burgundy.
By about 2:00 we pull into Savigny les Beaune a little village just south of Nuits for lunch.  We find a delightful little restaurant, in a delightful little square, next to a delightful chateau.  We are quickly seated, promptly ignored and then 2 beers are delivered to our table.  We have not ordered these beers but they are certainly just what we need to quench our thirst.
Restaurant de Famille

Restaurant de Famille

When Howard brings the mistake to the attention of the pretty blonde waitress, we find out that instead of requesting a table for 2 people (deux personne) the waitress thought he asked for 2 beers (deux pression).  The waitress is very amused by our mistake and we soon hear her telling the barman and having a good chuckle. Thats one way of making an impression.
After lunch … excellent salad and medallions of pork (they do not charge us for the beer – even though we drank them) we wander of for a look at the chateau.  We don’t have time to do the tour but we note there are dozens of airplanes parked in the grounds as well as some very cute little Citroen C2 that are obviously on a rally.
Chateau Savigny Les Beaune

Chateau Savigny Les Beaune

Jet Planes in the Garden

Jet Planes in the Garden

There are also dozens of motor bike enthusiasts that are getting ready to depart, they are joined by one skinny fellow on a push bike who, much to everyones amusement, is lined up to join the convoy.  He takes off with them only to ride a mere 10 metres to the restaurant for a beer.
Ready to roar!

Ready to roar!

Fifteen minutes down the road we are in Nuits St Georges and knocking on the door of the Madame de Loisy’s … no answer … ummm … how French, perhaps Francoises is having her afternoon nap?  Thats fine we go for a walk and grab a drink at L’Etoile Cafe, this cafe has been a favourite of ours for many years.  Patrick the owner recognises us and shakes our hands. The sun is shining, and its quite warm for this time of the year.  So we are not too fazed by our welcome.
By the time we head back to the hotel and grab our bags our friends Bill and Jill Ryan from Brisbane and Andrew Hood from Tasmania are pulling up as well.  Francoises de Loisy now in house, offers us a very warm welcome and escorts us through the lovely courtyard, into the receptions rooms beautifully decorated with antiques, up the old oak staircase to our room  – the Boudoir Chambre.  Our room is fabulous and beautifully  decorated.  And we have an ensuite – this is very welcome.  We stayed here 5 years ago and have memories of creeping across a very cold, very squeaky hallway in the middle of the night to have a pee!
Chambre Boudoir

Chambre Boudoir

Courtyard below our room

Courtyard below our room

We settle in and then join Francoises and the other in the courtyard for a bottle or two of the local bubble Cremant de Bourgogne.  At 8:30 we head out to Restaurant de la Tour just around the corner for dinner.
Cheers

Cheers!

Blois and Chambord

Saturday 8 June 2013

Tomorrow we are expected in Burgundy.  Today and tomorrow we are going to drive across France in two short legs (5 hours each).  After much deliberation I have booked us for one night at Chambord with a pit-stop at Blois on the way.

Leaving Cancale ... did I mention we are driving the world's ugliest car?

Leaving Cancale … did I mention we are driving the world’s ugliest car?

The trip to Blois was relatively uneventful.  We have one unplanned detour when I mistakenly exit one of the motorways … 15 minutes later we were back on the motorway and headed in the right direction again.

We navigate to the centre of Blois and park.  All I know about Blois is that it’s really old, it has a castle and a river.  Our initial impression is of a modernised old town with very little charm.  We walk through the main shopping area – which is bustling as it is Saturday afternoon, the main shopping time.  We find the wide roaring river and an ancient bridge.

Bridge over the Loire in Blois

Bridge over the Loire in Blois

We find a unimpressive church.  Ummm I know there is more ….. somewhere …..

Down a few alleys, up some steps and around the corner and there it is Chateau Royal de Blois.  Residence of 7 kings and 10 queens of France, the Royal Chateau is very impressive.

Chateau Royal de Blois

Chateau Royal de Blois

The front facade is magnificent and the interior courtyard majestic but it is the view of the back of the chateau that you get a feel for the true mass of the chateau.

Chateau from the rear

Chateau from the rear

The chateau is surrounded by stately churches, grand homes and formal gardens.

Blois Chateau Gardens

Blois Chateau Gardens

We could have happy stay here all day to explore the many sights by we have hit the road for Chambord.

My Chambord research is also sketchy … it has a chateau and is in a park.  What we find out is that Chambord IS a chateau in a great forest reserve and there is a hotel (where we are staying) and a couple of shops and restaurants catering to the tourist.

There is a 5 km drive from the entrance of the park reserve to the chateau.  We negotiate the confusing parking signs and check into our room at Hotel Le Grand St Michel.  Le St Michel was once a grand old hotel … alas those years are long gone.  Our room is basic to say the least.

Hotel Le Grand St Michel

Hotel Le Grand St Michel

We are so close to the chateau that you get a magnificent view the moment you walk out the front door, 250 metres away across the green grass sit the grand, magnificent Chateau Chambord.  I don’t have the words to describe it.

Chambord - view from our hotel

Chambord – view from our hotel

Chateau Chambord

Chateau Chambord

The Chateau is closing down for the day, but we know that it won’t be dark for many hours so we set off to walk around the chateau.  We soon find out that this entails a 4 km walk around a man made canal.  The canal has a strip of grass on each side and then the forest begins.  The wonderfully peaceful and as we walk we hear a cockoo calling cook coo, cook coo, cook coo.

As you can see from the photo below from the end of the canal, its quite a walk.  Back to the hotel for dinner and an early night.

View from the end of the Canal

View from the end of the Canal

A well earned beer!

A well earned beer!

Mount Saint Michel

Friday 7 June 2013

I’m not normally one for big name tourist attractions as they tend to be overcrowded and generally disappointing.  But Mount Saint Michel is just an hour’s drive away and I can’t resist.

From the weather report garnered from looking out our window … the tide is out (again), its a clear but hazy day.  Lets go!

Weather check ... hazy

Weather check …

As we approach our destination we are given some leaflets and directed in to a field to park and then we follow the trail of tourists down the road.  Turns out the guides are on strike, the multinational corporation that runs the tourist operation has increased the parking fees from 8.50 euro to 12 euro (thats a 41% increase!) and cancelled the free shuttle for the employees.  The good thing for us is that the car park today is free (no staff working to take our money), there are no tour guides (I hate pushy touters).

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel

Mount Saint Michel is isolated from the land by the sea and a large flat salt marsh.  Its about a 2 1/2 km walk from the car park across the salt mash and the causeway to the island.  We can see miles of sand exposed by the receding tide.  Its hot and windy and we every now and then we hear the faint rumble of thunder coming from the clouds that have started to form.

It sure is impressive

It sure is impressive

Christine the lovely lady we met a few days ago at the Cancale laundromat has instructed us to get a free map from the tourist office and take the back steps through the gardens up to the top.  Its a long hot slog up the steep steps, along ramparts and through alleys.  Every time we look up there is further to go.  Every time we think we are at the top we find more steps.  Poor Howie I’m always making him climb something!

Finally we reach the top large terrace at the front of the Abbey.  The views are amazing …

The View from the Upper Levels of Mt St Michel

The View from the Upper Levels of Mt St Michel

The romanesque abbey was founded and built in the 11th century and a monastery built next to it.  It been slowly growing and improved ever since and has been a great pilgrimage centre over the centuries.

Behind the abbey is a lovely cloister and beyond that the monastery – a labyrinth of rooms over three descending levels – a refectory, crypts, chapels, dormitories, kitchens, halls, passages, stairs.  The walls are incredibly thick and there is a deep chill in these rooms.  I can only imagine what it would have been like living here in winter hundreds of years ago.

The Cloister

The Cloister

Now that's what I call a fire place!

Now that’s what I call a fire place!

Out of the monastery we look up to admire the amazing building above us.  We descend via the medieval main street that is teaming with visitors.  Souvenir shops, restaurants and ice-cream stores line both sides of the narrow winding lane.  Some of the shops provide access to the ramparts where I can see groups of school children walking across the now totally exposed sand.  There are miles of white clayey sand in every direction.

The Monestary

The Monestary

Out to sea - view from Mt St Michel

Out to sea – view from Mt St Michel

The weather looks quite ominous now, the thick grey clouds look like they are going to burst at any time and the wind is pickling up.  We briskly walk down the street soaking up the atmosphere as we go.  Luckily the buses are still running back to the car park and we squeeze into the first one that comes along.

We noticed a small village on our way and we head there to hopefully grab a snack to tidy us over.  Luckily we find a bakery that is open and selling made to order baguette (sandwiches) which we love so much.  We mange to get fed and grab a quick drink at a local bar before the storm strikes.

Not wanting to drive along the main road in the storm we travel the backroads towards Cancale.  In one of the seaside villages, La Vivier Sur Mer, we see oyster restaurants by the water and stop at one for our afternoon hit of oysters.  The open air roadside pavilion provides some protection when the storm that has been stalking us down the coast catches up.  Even though it is only 4 in the afternoon it is very dark and gloomy when we get back to Cancale.

Roadside Oyster Stop

Roadside Oyster Stop

Cancale after the storm

Cancale after the storm

As it is our last night we have decided to celebrate with another meal at our hotel La Mere Champlain.  Howard has noticed that there is a lobster special on and he is determined to get all he can get while he can.

Lobster at La Mere Champlain

Lobster at La Mere Champlain

Le Coquillage Restaurant

Thursday 6 June 2013

Today is a belated birthday treat from Janet, she has made a reservation at restaurant Le Coquillage in the Le Chateau Richeux Hotel. A beautiful renovated chateau high on a cliff overlooking the bay of Cancale.  Its just a short drive from our hotel and we arrive around 12.30. The hotel is set amidst a beautiful garden, where they grow their own vegetables. There is also a small bakery on site where three days a week the resident baker makes all the bread for the restaurant from organic grains in a wood fired oven.

Le Chateau Richeux

Le Chateau Richeux

The wood fire bakery

The wood fired bakery

Le Coquillage is a slick and professionally run restaurant, ooozing refined charm. We are soon seated at our window table that looks across the garden and the coast as we enjoy a glass of champagne.

Champage, canapes and a view

Champage, canapes and a view

The waiter arrives and explains the menu and suggests a fresh lobster for an additional 39 Euro, how can I resist!  We settle on the Menu Grand Choix de la Baie, plus the lobster and wines to accompany each course.  This takes all the pain away from choosing wine from the list.  I note with interest the number of French couples who share a half bottle!  There are some very elegant people here.

After some ‘amuse bouche’, our entrees arrive.  Janet is having the Tartare de daurade (sea bream tartare) and for me the Pommes de terre nouvelles persil plat et lieu fume le long du four a pain (pollock smoked in their oven with home grown baby potatoes).  Both dishes are amazing.  Simple yet complex with the most amazing flavours.  French cuisine at its finest.  Completed with a fine Sancerre.  Oh and the bread and the fabulous Brittany butter mmmm!

French style fish and chips

French style fish and chips

Terrine

Tartare

I knew we were getting serious when the waiter brought out a large bib for my next course. Yes, my homard.  Eight hundred grams of fresh Atlantic lobster.  Unadorned with any excess, gently fire-place grilled with a butter sauce to accompany this masterpiece.  The chef had cracked the shell in all the right places and the claws came out in a single piece. That takes exceptional skill.  It was delicate, sweet, moist – just divine.

Happy howie

Happy howie

Janet has the Blanc de barbue, asperges, roquettes, blettes marine et Poivre des Mondes (brill fillet with asparagus, aragula and marine sea kale).  Superb!  Served with a Saint Veran, its a fine match.

Mains

Mains

After allowing the main to settle Mathieu brings out his sweet trolley.  Everything on this sugar wagon has been made by Mathieu.  Wow.  Take as much or as little as you wish.  I settle on four or five selections. Well it is my belated birthday lunch, isn’t it?

Sweets tray ... three layers of heaven

Sweets tray … three layers of heaven

Desert 1

Desert 1

Desert 2

Desert 2

We finish the meal with tea and coffee served outside overlooking the bay.  The sun is shining and it has been a glorious afternoon.

Janet swinging in the garden

Janet swinging in the garden

This was a memorable lunch, that every traveller should have the opportunity of experiencing in France.

Saint Malo

Wednesday 6 June 2013

We wake up in the morning and find that the tide has come and gone during the night.  In the morning light we see the full extent of the tidal plain.  Down the quay and past the oyster stall are miles of exposed oyster beds.  The water has receded so far that we can just see the shore in the horizon.

While I sleep in, Howard heads up to the village for a coffee.  He comes pack with tales of the coffee, a local man called Micky Mouse (with big ears) and some delicious pastries.

Today we have nothing more exciting planned than getting our laundry done and to sample some more of the local delicacies.  We wander down the quay to the oyster stalls and invest in a dozen large wild oysters, freshly shucked.  Local custom dictates that you toss the empty shells into the bay.

First dozen

First dozen

One dozen is not enough so I head back and get another dozen.  Delicious.

Second dozen

Second dozen

Now to more practical things, we get some confusing directions to the SuperU, where we are assured there is a laundromat – the  laverie automatique.

Sure enough sitting in the middle of the carpark is a little converted shipping container, now a laundromat.  The instructions are confusing and half the machines don’t work but eventually with the help of a lovely lady who spoke excellent English we get our washing in, washed and dried. We end up having a wonderful chat with  Catherine Monnet who is a local and she tells us we must go to Saint Malo.

Following her recommendations we park the car on the outskirts of town and walk along La Digue into town.  We must have parked further out than we should because it turns out to be about a 4 km walk into town (and 4 km back).  To our delight we find a massive fortress that encloses the old town.  There has been a fort at St Malo ever since man has put boats to sea.  It has been improved over and over again throughout the centuries and seen countless battles.  There are numerous outlying islands all with a miniature fort acting as early defence posts.  The ramparts are open to the public and you can circumnavigate the whole town on the massive walls.

Island fort

Island fort

Walking the ramparts

Walking the ramparts

On the far side of the fort we find a huge boat harbour and ferry terminal servicing England … the very people that the fortress was built to keep out.

Inside the massive walls is a delightful old town complete with lovely squares, cobble stoned streets and tudor buildings.

Village well

Village well

After a refreshing drink designed to brace ourselves for the long walk home we head off again.  Footsore but happy we head back to Cancale for dinner.

After walking up and down and up and down (feet hurting now) the Cancale restaurant strip we settle for the Le Cancalaise.

Here is an example of the great value that can be obtained in French restaurants by selecting the set menu option.   For 75 euro we get a drink each to start, a three course meal and have a bottle of local muscadet.

Puy lentils and fresh sardines

Puy lentils and fresh sardines

Scallops

Scallops

Deserts

Deserts

Cancale quay at night

Cancale quay at night