Published: September 19th 2009September 19th 2009
Blogday 3 Friday 18th September
So much for the early start to the day. Having stayed up late last night to complete the blogs for the first two days I slept until almost 11am. And this despite a full and rumbling tummy from the moules frites of the previous night: perhaps the moules had an anaesthetic quality in place of a taste of anything.
Having got up I wandered around outside the hotel looking for a patisserie where I could buy a couple of croissants for breakfast: Jane and I having agreed the night before that £13 each for the hotel breakfast wasn’t worth it; and as they stop serving breakfast at 10.30 we’d missed it anyway. I went into the nearby Tourist Information Office to enquire about visiting the local megaliths and bicycle rentals then found a patisserie but they didn’t have any croissants, so breakfast consisted of water and a small milk bread roll; not that we needed or wanted very much.
The next item on the agenda was to hire a couple of bikes as the megalith fields were just outside town and cycling was regarded as the best way to get around them. We hired two
bikes for half a day for £7 each (the first bit of reasonable value we’ve found so far) and rode into town, Then disaster when the chain on Jane’s bike came off and jammed in the rear sprockets. Despite my best mechanical efforts, resulting in getting oil and grime up to my elbows, I couldn’t get the chain off but fortunately I had my mobile phone with me and phoned the Bike shop. They delivered a replacement bike within 20 minutes and we were on our way again. The megaliths are standing stones generally about 4/5 feet high set in rows (alignments), very similar to the layout of a military cemetery. They extend over an area of about two miles. We started at the western end of the alignments where we found a creperie (where they make crepes) and had a very nice lunch (getting our priorities sorted). Then it was off to look at the alignments which consist of five quite large megalith fields. The weather had improved with warm sunshine during the afternoon which made the cycling a real pleasure. After stopping at another creperie in the middle of an alignment for more crepes and tea we rode
Ancient Breton Game
Tossing the megalith
back into town, via a supermarket to pick up some juices and croissants for the next day’s breakfast, and to return the bikes. We got a recommendation for a restaurant for dinner that night from the very helpful proprietor of the bike rental and returned to the hotel, where we spent a frustrating time trying to book a hotel in La Rochelle, our next stop, and in the Dordogne for Sunday
One of my purchases at the supermarket was some local beer, Britt Biere, on account of its Brittany origin, and very nice it is too. Dinner was good too. We had beef tortillas (when in Brittany don’t eat moules, eat Mexican). And so to bed.
Blogday 4 Saturday 19th September
Up reasonably early for our in-room breakfast of croissants and fruit juices. Then packing and on the road by 11.30 heading for La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast, where we had been recommended to stop over and sample the local seafood. An easy drive of 280 kms (175 miles) with the Mighty Chev rumbling along happily on cruise control at 120 kph (75mph). With stops, and a slow section on a country road leading into
La Rochelle, we did it in 4 (comfortable) hours.
Our hotel, the Kyriad, is another budget hotel but despite the rather plain appearance of the hotel the room is excellent, spacious and clean. Later we walked into the Old Port section of La Rochelle to find the restaurant that had been recommended by Jane’s daughter’s French boyfriend. Unfortunately it started raining and when we found the restaurant, at 6pm, we were told that it didn’t open until 7pm; so we had to hang around in the wet. Fortunately the rain stopped and we were able to see a bit of old La Rochelle. Impressive too. It’s another medieval port like Honfleur but much larger. The entrance to the inner harbour is very narrow and is guarded by a couple of massive towers which had a chain slung between them in the olden days to stop villainous English pirates sailing in and pillaging, raping and generally acting like soccer hooligans. There’s also a third tower, Tour de la Lanterne, which was Europe’s first lighthouse (enter La Rochelle into Google Maps and have a look at the photos there, which are probably better than my efforts and were certainly taken in better
Tour (tower, not tour this time) de la Chaine (left).
Tour St Nicholas (right) at entrance to inner harbour
We showed up at the restaurant at 7pm and asked if we could come in even though our reservation was for 7.30, to which they graciously acceded. The restaurant is huge with frontages on parallel streets and occupying the space between. There were only two other people in the restaurant when we sat down but by 8pm the place was full. We had an excellent meal, grilled sea bass for me and smoked baked cod for Jane. Good recommendation. And then back to the hotel. Off to the Dordogne tomorrow to look for prehistoric cave paintings and more good food.
There are more photos below