More mussels in fact were the order of this week, as it happens-very scrumptious too.
We are still in Brittany and of course Brittany is famous for all things crustacean wise, with mussels being sold in more or less every establishment in the region, in many different sauces. The main one way of course being moules mariniere, and oddly in the majority of the restaurants it’s one euro cheaper than say the ones served with cream or curry.
For us as you well know, it’s hard to walk past restaurants at lunchtimes offering the menu de jour and in Brittany it was very hard to, because along with the moules frites, crepe’s and galettes also hail from this region, so creperies are also too numerous to walk past. But we did until the middle of the week, deciding to have our first moules moment in St Malo, rather than Honfleur or Mont St Michel. Our logic being that the latter two would be more touristy thus giving St Malo the edge as a working port. Of course, we will never know having not partaken in them in those towns, but sometimes on our journey we do apply logic, needless to say often wrong.
In the course of the week, we have been to three places (actually three parking places) leaving the very busy Honfleur last Monday, and we have delighted in all the three places for different reasons, that said the weather hasn’t been one of them. Three parking places, because as norm we have also walked vast distances to the different villages, towns around the camping spots. Certainly, attaining our 10,000 steps, though for the last few days we have averaged about ten miles. The walks have been a treat rather than an endurance, although that said the backs of both David and mine calves today are aching.
The reason for that being, that the most delightful (I think) of all the places we have been this week has a one in ten cobbled hill that rivals for sure Golden Hill (Hovis ad) in Shaftesbury, but this cobbled street is longer and keeps on giving just when you think you have it mastered and done with. We are currently in the historic walled town of Dinan, having left St Malo yesterday. The historic centre is just a short walk away and boasts a medieval historic centre with many half-timbered houses and also the most delightful of ports at the bottom of heart attack hill, correctly known as Jerzual Street, mentioned as early as 1123, in a blog very similar to this!
The hill is lined with examples of the said houses, some still residential but many hosting either small creperies, cafes or gift shops. There was the most delightful one near the top that sold very detailed glass/pottery sculptures mainly of a whimsical, Beatrix Potter style, plus more modern glass jewellery. The sculptures although amazing, really did need the right setting to be appreciated, the jewellery of course could also be easily appreciated with little homes for some items easily found in a motorhome!
Actually, this week, we have both done really well on the buying or not buying front, other than of course the moules once we had got started on them, the one lunch did turn into another day’s lunch of course, for comparison reasons as you would appreciate.
Yet another thing this area is famous for is of course the striped Breton jersey and again like the moules they are sold in every shop that can fit a pole rail in for them, now in all colours possible. We did not buy one of them, the main reason being that I have in fact already got one, and it is with me on the journey. It was purchased on a pre-motorhome life Brittany visit at the bargain price of €5, they are now the not so bargain price of about €25. Mine, I am pleased to note, has the correct number of stripes unlike many of todays version. Correct number of stripes?? Well Yes, upon googling as to why these jumpers are fashioned in this area, the reason is all to do with Napoleon and the number of battles he won against the English. That would be 21 (in French history!) and that is how many stripes they should have, being introduced in the 1800’s for the French navy to wear in the Breton region. There are of course other theories, but I like this one along with the fact mine has the correct 21 stripes!
Why are crepes and galettes so traditional in this area? We found that out today as well after walking along the river in Dinan to the equally if not more exquisite village of Lehon. The poor soil in this region favours the growing of buckwheat which is the flour that galettes are made from. They have been eaten traditionally in this area in favour of bread, and have been liken to the Italian pizza and traditionally here would be served with a bowl of locally produced cider, another regional speciality.
Moules or more, the more for me out of the abundance of shell fish grown, fished in this area was oysters or huitres as they are known in France. Cancale, is world famous for its oysters and of course we have all probably seen one or other of the TV chefs standing by the quayside there, with the oyster farms in the background slurping down fresh just harvested oysters along with a glass of chilled white wine, so why should I be any different. Other than of course the team of researchers, translators etc that make all those casual, oh look what I’ve just stumbled upon moments happen on TV. For us, it was, oh my God which ones shall we go for and which place. I do love oysters, but sometimes they don’t love me and an upset stomach from shellfish is not what you want in a motorhome-think toilet cassette and very small drain hole pipes, it just wouldn’t be pleasant for David to deal with! That said, I just couldn’t resist especially having made the 14 miles, mainly delightful coastal walk there. Thankfully, we found a place that sold just three and so for my first sampling for many years that was enough to start, washed down just like the TV chefs with a glass of muscadet. How were they? Truly wonderful- salty, slimy and chewy, just what you want from an oyster. David indulged in another lunch of moules mariniere and frites, stating that yet again these equally ugly crustaceans were as delightful as the other two lots he had eaten on previous lunches!
So, for us the week which has seen a fair few of Brittany’s if not France’s top tourist spots, the outstanding winner is where we currently are parked in a municipal campsite looking up at the walls of Dinan. So much so that we might extend this visit by a day and take delight with more moules and maybe a few more oysters.
Looking forward to the week ahead and fingers crossed the delayed 70th brother’s birthday celebration in Champagne.