Meeting friends in France

La Baule

19 July

I again awoke to the noise of water dripping from somewhere it shouldn’t be. However, today it came from torrential rain, which sounded as though it was coming into the room through an open window. When I eventually checked a little while later though, I discovered that it was coming into the room but not from an open window. I investigated no further – not my problem!!

The garden of the apartment
The garden of the apartment

I was leaving Portugal today and flying to Rennes, in France, to meet up with my Weymouth friends, who were picking me up from the airport, having driven down from the ferry and Cherbourg. I therefore caught the metro to the airport and Ryanair from there. It all went very smoothly, although I thought I had cut it a bit fine when I realised the trains only went half hourly and I must have just missed one. Porto airport was extremely busy and it took a little while to get through security etc (no passport control though, which I still find strange).

The plane landed a little late but my friends were still an hour away, so I whiled away the time reading. It then took another couple of hours to  reach La Baule, with the aid of the lady on the sat nav, who got very upset and sulked when we didn’t listen!

Le Pouliguen river front
Le Pouliguen river front

The man in charge of letting the apartment showed us every minute detail of the operation of television, stove etc and, once we had brought everything in from the car, we went out for a stroll and to eat at a creperie. The town was busy with French holiday makers but we were all very tired, so we didn’t stay out long.

La Baule

20 July

Wine under plastic cover in the rain in La Pouliguen
Wine under plastic cover in the rain in La Pouliguen

It was pouring with rain this morning and not at all weather suited to the beach. We took our time having breakfast and, as the rain eased, decided to set forth into town for a walk. Luckily, it wasn’t long before the sun made a reappearance and the sky showed patches of blue.

Le Pouliguen
Le Pouliguen

We walked around the market, admiring the food and making our purchases for lunch, which turned out to cost as much, if not more, than if we had eaten in a cafe, but it gave us an opportunity to drool over the delicious bread, cheese and ham. There is just something about French food and markets!

Church in Le Pouliguen
Church in Le Pouliguen

Oysters in La Pouliguen market
Oysters in La Pouliguen market

Market building in La Pouliguen
Market building in La Pouliguen

Lunch!
Lunch!

We strolled home with our purchases and sat outside on the balcony to eat. It was all delicious and we washed it down with a very acceptable bottle of wine. Afterwards, we raised ourselves from the lethargy induced by the latter and walked along the promenade for a while, admiring the houses and the art forms beside the path, before sitting on a bench and critiquing the people on the beach.

La Baule beach
La Baule beach
Hotel on the beach front in La Baule
Hotel on the beach front in La Baule

House on La Baule beachfront
House on La Baule beachfront

Statue on La Baule beachfront
Statue on La Baule beachfront

Moules frites for dinner!
Moules frites for dinner!

Then it was back to the apartment for a lie down and a read before dinner, which we ate at a small cafe, of which there are many, in town. Tonight it was a saucepan full of moules et frites (mussels and chips) each, which were absolutely delicious. What a lifestyle!

La Baule

21 July

On my bike!
On my bike!
Panama hats for sale in the market in Batz
Panama hats for sale in the market in Batz
Church in Batz sur mer
Church in Batz sur mer

The first stop after breakfast this morning was at the cycle shop, so that I could hire a bike for the next 10 days. There is a myriad of cycle paths in the area and we intend to take full advantage of them. Once the paper work was complete, we were off to play in the traffic on the wrong side of the road and I, for one, was riding an unknown bike. However, the traffic was light and the direction mostly one way, drivers were considerate of cyclists, which is almost inconceivable in N.Z, and we only had to go a short distance before joining a cycle path along the coast.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable ride, the bike was perfect, with easy gear changes, and the scenery, which reminded me of Ireland with the white houses close to the sea, and the weather was beautiful. We stopped periodically along the way to admire the view and for me to take the inevitable photographs (always blog conscious!) before we arrived in Batz Sur Mer, where there was a market in progress.

Ex-German bunker on the way to Batz Sur Mer
Ex-German bunker on the way to Batz Sur Mer
Lunch!
Lunch!
Old windows in a house in Batz sur Mer
Old windows in a house in Batz sur Mer

We had a wander around and went in search of a coffee but the only cafe had a busker outside who, unfortunately, was so bad we couldn’t stay in the vicinity, so we bought baguettes sandwiches and sat on a bench in an almost deserted square to eat them. By this time, it was extremely hot, but we weren’t complaining!

Old ruined fishermen's church at Batz Sur Mer
Old ruined fishermen’s church at Batz Sur Mer
Window in a house in Batz
Window in a house in Batz

Afterwards, we took another stroll, in the hope that we might find coffee somewhere, but were unsuccessful, so headed back to the bikes that were chained to a fence on the way into town. However, instead of cycling off immediately, we walked down to the beach, admiring the old houses and architecture along the way, and luckily spotted a cafe. Unfortunately, the same busker was also lurking, so we waited until he had lurked away, (just to be sure) and then sat down and ordered.

The beach at Batz Sur Mer
The beach at Batz Sur Mer
Beach huts at Batz
Beach huts at Batz
Rocky coast on the way to Batz Sur Mer
Rocky coast on the way to Batz Sur Mer

Thus replete, we set off back towards La Baule, stopping at another bench on the cliff top to eat the pastries we had bought at the boulangerie in Batz.

Back at the apartment once again, we changed into our swim suits and were off to the beach. Here, we all dozed away the rest of the afternoon, being slightly sand blasted in the process. There were people in every direction but, luckily, no one immediately next to us, or I would have been very uncomfortable. (Memories of the beach at Barcelona a while ago still spring to mind!

We had dinner at a pizza place, which was very nice but, by this time, we were already for bed again. It is so tiring enjoying yourself!

La Baule

22 July

We had a leisurely morning and, at about 11am, set forth on the bikes to ride all the way along the beach front to the other end of the bay. This also was quite leisurely, as we stopped to watch the activities on and off the beach, which included sailing, windsurfing and some rather odd bicycle exercising in the sea, which amused not only us but quite a few others as well!

Activities at La Baule
Activities at La Baule
Water exercise bicycle?
Water exercise bicycle?
Biking on the beach front
Biking on the beach front
La Baule beach
La Baule beach

It took about an hour to reach the pier at the other end, where we admired the view and then decided to continue along further.

We arrived at St Margeurite’s beach feeling a bit hungry, so stopped for lunch at a cafe. This proved to be no simple activity as we ordered three different baguette sandwiches, which apparently was too much for the chef to cope with. The first time they arrived, one order was correct. The second time, two of them were right and by the third time, it was such a close proximity to what we had ordered we gave up!

At the other end of the bay at Pornichet
At the other end of the bay at Pornichet
Lighthouse at the end of the bay
Lighthouse at the end of the bay
Got no idea?!
Got no idea?!
Rocky cove at St Margeurite's
Rocky cove at St Margeurite’s

Whilst we were eating, something strange was happening on the road next to us, which involved a van pulling a trailer with a circular tent (for want of a better word) and several people. At one point, they appeared to be acting a scene from a play and we came to no obvious conclusions as to what they were doing.

Afterwards, we went to the beach, which, at the time we arrived, was fairly empty, but by the time we left several hours and a good sleep later, was extremely busy. Bearing a slight resemblance to lobsters, we cycled all the way back to the apartment, wondering why we had chosen to go to a beach so far away!

The beach at St Margeurite's
The beach at St Margeurite’s
On the beach
On the beach

Later in the evening, we enjoyed an excellent meal selected from the menu of the day at a restaurant in La Pouliguen, where the staff were somewhat dour but by the end of the meal, had thawed a little, obviously affected by our joviality (which had been helped along by a couple of pichets of the house wine). After dinner, we joined the rest of the holiday makers in their ‘paggiatta’ along the waterfront before heading back, rather weary, to our apartment after a most enjoyable and entertaining day.

La Baule

23 July

It was dead!
It was dead!
Countryside next to the bike path
Countryside next to the bike path

We attempted to have an earlier start today as we wanted to cycle to the Geurande market and arrive before the hordes. We almost achieved it and only left half an hour after intended!

There was a cycle way for almost the entire 10 km between La Baule and Geurande, which was excellent, once we had found the start of it. This involved a collision with one member of our party and another cyclist, after she stopped to ask directions, and resulted in the odd bruise or two. Once found, the track sloped gently up towards the hill town and was a very pleasant ride with a few other cyclists, some serious ones in very ‘attractive’ lycra, but not so many as to be a nuisance.

Geurande
Geurande

Crepe in the market place in Geurande
Crepe in the market place in Geurande
Salt of Guerande
Salt of Guerande

Church roofs in Geurande
Church roofs in Geurande
Painter on the side of a house in Geurande
Painter on the side of a house in Geurande
Creperie sign at Geurande
Creperie sign at Geurande

Geurande is an old walled town and today, being market day, was exceedingly busy. We wandered around, had a coffee, two members of the party bought hats (and it wasn’t the male!) and a couple of them bought jewellery (also not the male). We bought bread, cheese and strawberries for lunch and then cycled back along the same route, with a ‘scenic’ deviation once we had reached La Baule, and back to the apartment. We ate our provisions on the balcony, which were very tasty, (the food not the balcony) although the strawberries were somewhat the worse for wear, having been obviously squashed in my bicycle basket even though I thought I had been careful with them.

Market packing up in Geurande
Market packing up in Geurande
Outside a jeweller's shop in Geurande
Outside a jeweller’s shop in Geurande

Afterwards, two of us visited a real estate agent (again not the male), whilst the third (the male) went to the beach. My friends are considering buying an apartment in La Pouliguen and are taking the opportunity to look.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the one and only cafe that we have found so far that has wifi so that I could update the blog and we could both check emails. I’m sure the cafe man is going to start dreading the sight of us arriving as we spend so much time over a cider/beer or two.

The hats!
The hats!

As we had had lunch quite late, were not particularly hungry and, unusually, didn’t feel like eating out, (two of us also having spent our daily allowance on extravagances at the market!) we bought some food from the supermarket to prepare at home. We then spent the remainder of the evening on the balcony, eating, drinking and chatting.

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