A Wild Weekend in Brittany
Trip Start May 14, 2013
18Trip End Aug 06, 2013
Today Persephone and I drove virtually non-stop from Amboise to Quimper in Brittany to spend the weekend with Julien's parents. It took us seven and half hours and I was greeted by an enthusiastic Bernard. I just had time to unpack and Michèle arrived home from work and whisked me off to watch a very entertaining dance performance by many school children and their teachers. We arrived home a bit after nine and discovered Bernard had lit a welcoming fire in the lounge/ dining room to ward off the Brittany chills. Michèle whipped up a delicious salmon dish and afterwards I crashed into my upstairs room, Julien's old bedroom, with its lovely attic windows and view over Quimper.
Saturday June 15th
It's Saturday and time for the weekend of festivities to commence
Lunch was french affair of several small courses accompanied by a bottle of Bernard's own labelled red wine "Le Chevalier" (the knight). We began with a fresh melon half each. Papi and Bernard ate fresh oysters with some crusty torn off pieces of baguette
I hardly had time to begin digesting this fantastic feast, when we all piled into Papi's Peugeot and Bernard drove us north of Quimper to the picturesque fishing village of Douarnenez. Douarnenez is famous for its sardines and at one stage it was a thriving industry in the little seaport. Nowadays it attracts holiday makers and on our long walk around the coastline we saw many trying to soak up some sunshine when it peeked through the clouds, huddled in sheltered corners from the biting westerly wind. Lucky for me I have Leah's lovely warm coat still- so much for summer, I'm still waiting! The village is divided into two parts surrounding its impressive river which provides safe anchorage for a veritable flotilla of yachts and fishing boats. The boats are moored in very organised straight rows upriver and there is a loch which can only be entered if the tide is right. Our coastal walk included a visit to some ancient roman ruins of enormous fish preserving vats and an interesting potager farm and garden where its possible to stay in self-contained accomodation.
Bernard drove us back to Quimper for a brief spell before we all headed out again to dine at a restaurant and bar by the sea and were joined by Michèle's brother Jacques and his wife Natalie
Sunday June 16th
Today the Brittany weather was at its best-cloudy, windy and cold! Also it was La Fête de Père or french Father's Day and both Bernard and Jacques had entered a marathon 16 km kayak paddle downriver from Quimper to the coastal port of Bénodet. Bernard, Michèle myself and the kayak all piled into Bernard's Toyota van and headed to the starting point on the L'Odet River. It was crazy and difficult to find a park close to the water as there were 1000 entrants in 600 kayaks, including children and some dogs! Michèle, Natalie and I waited in the freezing conditions for ages for the start to begin. Many competitors wore wetsuits but some just shorts and t-shirts
Surprise, surprise! We met up with Papi again on the beach at Bénodet and he insisted on shouting us girls a three course lunch at a seaside restaurant called Sanssouci, that had a gorgeous view over the white sandy beach. So whilst the boys were "enjoying themselves" slogging through the wind whipped waves, us girls were feasting yet again french style. Papi suggested I start with Le Coquilles St. Jacques for entrée, just delicious. He ordered a lovely rosé to accompany our meal. Michèle and Papi had duck but as I'm not fond of it I chose the beef steak kebab and ordered it medium to make sure it was cooked through. The French enjoy their steak very rare but I like mine pink not sitting in pools of blood! Luckily it was mostly pink and served with a pepper sauce and more chips. I topped it off with a warmed through chocolate brownie and vanilla icecream, more english than french. We forgot about Bernard and the kayak marathon and he rang Michèle to say he had arrived safely after four gruelling hours and could she please come and meet him and help him pack the kayak in the van. After he had changed into some dry clothes he joined us for a late dessert and we all had coffees and hot chocolates to rev us into the afternoon. Next we all went for a walk along the promenade to watch many late comers in kayaks who were still struggling to reach the beach. It was sad to say a final farewell to Papi and he said his face would be raining with tears tomorrow as he would not see me again for a long time.;-(
Now as there was free food and drink for all the participants, Bernard was keen to dig in to the tucker at a big marquee set up for the event
We drove home worn out from our busy day. Michèle had some marking to do for school and we all sat down to watch the french news. I was delighted to find that it's the same one I've been watching in Australia on SBS with my favourite presenter. Afterwards it was funny to watch a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in French. Bernard lit the fire again and Michèle and I enjoyed hot chocolate drinks and the last nibbles of the cakes and macroons. Tomorrow it will be sad to say farewell to my lovely friends and head off with Persephone again. It's going to be very quiet on my own after such a fun-filled weekend.