The Beautiful Brittany and its wonderful Hosts

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
Trip End Jan 05, 2012

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Flag of France  , Brittany,
Monday, June 13, 2011

We arrived at the prescribed covoiturage meeting point (a very public train and bus station) a little before time and rang the guy to let him know where we were standing. We would be travelling to St Brieuc which is a beautiful township (part of Brittany) at the north west point of France near the ocean. Louise had hosted two young boys and one girl (very early twenties) from France at her home in Brisbane and we were returning to spend time with them. Little did we realise these 'kids' (young men and women really) would be SO generous, SO welcoming and SO hospitable that when we left we would both cry tears of absolute joy at having the opportunity to meet (yet again) the nicest people you would EVER..

The driver of our 'lift' spotted us and as we predicted he did not have a LOT of English vocabulary however we talked best we could most of the way to our destination. We picked up another passenger thirty minutes into the trip who kept the driver entertained with conversation (French) for a long time while we had a rest. This lovely kid (only 22 years old )drives between Bordeaux and St Brieuc  (4hours) regularly because of his university studies and as a ‘poor’ student  supplements his income by taking passengers. We gave him cash at the end of the journey (appropriate) and bid our farewells to wait for one of the ‘boys’ to pick us up from the train station.

We were to stay at Alexis ‘friends’ (his friends name is Alexon) house  or rather his parents home (they were away on holidays) because the boys wanted to entertain us without the worry of the language barrier especially for their parents  (all three boys live at home with their parents) although we met both sets of parents later that week.  We were picked up by Frederic (Fred) and driven to the house to settle in until the other two boys arrived home from work. We caught up over wonderful Pork Pate and Baguette with a lovely glass of wine after which Alexis cooked us their ‘favourite’ and a traditional signature French dish ‘Gallette’ which is a thin ‘buck wheat’ (we think) pancake with ham and an egg and other fillings inside (as required). We had freshly cooked scallops and leeks with cheese which was absolutely delicious. When it came to a second helping the boys graciously allowed us to cook THEM a Gallette  to make sure we had the procedure correct for duplication when we got home.

Then we were told that they had ‘organised’ a few days of sightseeing for us and this included a tour of Fred's family run bakery in town, a visit St Malo and the pink granite coastline and to stay the night at the sea side resort where his family own a mobile home to which they retreat on the weekends. The boys wanted to go fishing to catch sea spiders (a HUGE crab like sea creature) for us to sample while they were there.  We would then spend the third night in Renne a tiny ‘University’ town in the centre of France where Claire now lives and works before catching the train to Paris at the end of the week. WOW ! We neither expected or were prepared for the FANTASTIC few days that were our visit to St Brieuc! The guys were exceptional hosts having taken 2 days off work and commitments to ensure that we had a lovely time and had everything prepared down to the menu for breakfasts, lunches and dinners . We were astounded and very, very grateful. They are all very mature for their years and and their local and national knowledge a credit to their parents and education. They are well versed with the food and  wines of the region/country and were an absolute pleasure to spend time with.

The  visit to Fred's mother and fathers bakery in the small village of St Brieuc bought back vivid memories of my own teenage years living in a bakery in Hertfordshire England. His father the baker and mother the shop hostess, for the past thirty years, the smell that emanated from the shop was to die for!  Pastries and bread made in the small bakehouse were an absolute DREAM and of course a few 'samples' were kindly given to us by Fred's mum for morning tea. We then visited Alexis' s family home in another part of the town and met his delightful mother who showed us around their beautiful 'family' complex where the equipment that her father used for producing Apple Cider still sits in a huge barn like building across from the house.

The tour along the pink granite coast was spectacular. The ocean was a beautiful colour and complimented the huge pink granite rocks which cascaded along the coast line, whilst it was rather windy and cool the morning we visited the scenery (and photo opportunities) were outstanding as was lunch at the tiny out door café. An absolutely  delightful day was had by all completed only by the evening at the mobile home owned by Fred's parents eating Thai Stir Fry (compliments of the Aussie contingent) and drinking fine wine (again)!.

The 'digestive' (drink) is a new concept to me and I was pleased to partake even if it was a little strong. The digestive (pronounced di-jest-eve) is usually served in a small shot glass and is said to aid the digestion of your food (considering the French eat rather late  it is probably a great idea). There are many different 'types' of digestive but we were HONOURED to sample a very special brew. An Apple Cider digestive that Alexis grandfather had produced at their home in St Brieuc using a manual fruit press in the shed that adjoins their lovely cottage homes. It is some years old and by the potency of the brew I would guess has a very high alcoholic content.

Again the conversation over dinner/digestive with the boys was stimulating and interesting and Louise and I commented again how worldly wise and mature these boys are for their age.(23).
We have a lovely breakfast the following morning after Fred purchases croissants from the local bakery and we pack up and head off for more sight seeing in St Malo and the beautiful township that is surrounded by a lovely ornate wall. Whilst I have to don my plastic Poncho because of some drizzle the esthetic quality of this beautiful coastal township is not marred AT ALL.

We walk for quite some time marveling at the narrow cobble stoned lane ways below and the amazing size of their seagulls here. The are twice the size and very imposing when they swoop and land on the wall beside you. We had a coffee in a little coffee shop where they had dolls of every shape and size lining the walls and ceilings (such an extensive collection I have never seen before). At the bar there were 'swings' (yes attached to the ceiling) for patrons to sit in while they drank their favourite tipple. The trip to Renne was a couple of hours so we decided to leave mid afternoon and sat watching through the window at the beautiful countryside, rolling hills and very quaint and beautiful village cottages. 

A huge THANKS just does not seem adequate enough to express the gratitude I feel for the kindness shown us while we were in beautiful Brittany. I hope that I have the opportunity to entertain them on their next visit to Australia to return the experience. THANKS Alexis, Alexon and Fred !(and your families) !!!    Je vous remercie et vous revoir
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