So, here we are in La Baule, the southern end of the Brittany region. The hotel we are staying at is an absolute gem. A boutique hotel, typical French architecture and style, called Logis Lutetia
, situated right in the heart of the town, just off the beach area. The owner of the hotel couldn't speak a word of English, but it wasn't too hard to convey who we were and that we had a booking for a couple of nights.
We still had a couple of hours of daylight left, and the sun was still shining, so after stowing our luggage in the hotel decided to go for a bit of a walk around the town. Really charming place. Not quite a village but not a huge urban sprawl either. just the right mix of old and new. Lots of restaurants and bars scattered around, and a beautiful promenade along the beach (about 7km long). One thing we have noticed here is the distinct lack of cheap and nasty souvenir shops, even though it is obviously a holiday place (at least in summer it is).
The next day we headed off to explore the region by car
. Weather has really turned foul today. Blowing a gale outside, raining off and on. A good day to stay in the car. As we got further into the region, it became apparent that salt production played a large part in the economy of the area. In fact part of the low lying area is called Marais Salants, or "salt marshes". We came across a salt pond where 3 or 4 men were working - digging out a foul smelling black sludge. Opened the window to get a picture and the stench nearly made us sick!! Decided not to stop and investigate further.
At the next place we stopped at, Piriac-sur-Mer, we had and amazing experience. We stopped at a car park overlooking the ocean. We had stopped to watch the ocean crash onto the rocks of the shore. Then we spotted a group of people fossicking among the rocks of the shoreline (it was low tide at this time of day). Even though it was blowing a gale, we walked down to where they were to see what they were doing. They were "farming" oysters off the rocks. As we got closer we could see pale coloured growths all over the rocks. Closer inspection revealed thsat they were oysters - thousands of them. We approached on elderly bloke top see what he was up to. He showed us how they carefully pry the oysters loose with a specially shaped tool and a small hammer. He even gave us a couple of oysters to sample. Now, I'm not a big fan of oysters (Julie likes 'em though). In fact I've never had an oyster "eu naturale". But I didn't want to be rude, so down the hatch it went. What an amazing taste sensation. Salty and sweet. It tasted so fresh it was like you were tasting the sea itself. Julie reckoned they were the best oysters she had ever had.
For our final night in La Baule we went to oneof the fancier restaurants in town (real table cloths and napkins no less!!) Had a spectacular meal. Julie had a penne & scallops dish while I had onion soup to start followed by Saltimbocca with fresh noodles. Outstanding food (and wine). Both were simple dishes, but were full of flavour. A perfect way to end our time in this part of the country.