Friday, 6 October 2017

Five On Friday - Five Days In Le Pays de La Loire

This time two weeks ago I'd just landed in Nantes, France where I picked up a hire car and hit the road south, destination...the van.  I took my aunt with me this time (she's just eleven years older than me and great fun) I was a little concerned that she might not take to 'roughing it' in a static caravan, her usual holiday accommodation being a plush hotel.

We arrived in the village (indicated by the red pointer) just in time for lunch at the café.  I'd warned my aunt that it was a simple affair and there was no choice of entrée on their menu ouvrier.

 After enquiring what they were serving that day, Madame informed me it was poisson and veau.  Strange combination I thought, or maybe I hadn't understood properly?  Anyway when we sat down we saw other diners, some with fish and others with veal, so it seems that occasionally there is a choice of hot meal.  We enjoyed a tasty repas which included starter, main course with bread, dessert, cheese and biscuits and a glass of red for the bargain price of  €11 

Saturday morning saw us hitting the streets of nearby St Gilles Croix de Vie.  It was market day and with temperatures in the mid twenties, azure skies and not a cloud to be seen, the streets were fairly bustling.  After making a couple of purchases we headed back to the car in pursuit of lunch on the seafront.

The glorious wide sandy beach was almost deserted ... something us Brits can never get our heads around.  But of course they enjoy more than a few hours sunshine per annum in this part of the world and don't need to rush out the second the sun shows itself.
After lunch we walked the entire length of the front and along the harbour wall, stopping for an obligatory ice cream... always pistache for me!  Along the way I was approached by a pipe-smoking, bohemian looking Frenchman who must have heard us speaking English and asked how I liked France, I don't need to tell you what I replied, he then told me that my French was better than his English (not true) and informed me that he didn't agree with Brexit.  He said that he had an appointment and had to rush off, a shame as I rather enjoyed my impromptu chat with random monsieur. 

'When are we eating?'

 By the time we walked back to the car along the beach it was late afternoon and considerably busier.  We viewed families splashing around in the sea , a group of teens huddled around a thumping boom box and many a dog walker...one savvy boy was 'walking' his dog whilst cycling up and down the sands with the poor hound trotting beside him on the lead, his short legs struggling to keep up.


That night a treat was in store as we'd bagged tickets to a local production at the village hall.

When we arrived there was hardly a seat to be had, the place was packed with villagers. (mostly of a certain age, it has to be said) 

We were entertained for two and a half hours with songs and dance from around the world.  As you can see Great Britain was featured...I had wondered beforehand if Brexit would preclude us, but no, a gorgeous young man with an amazing vocal range sang John Lennon's Imagine. 

The amateur dancers were no spring chickens and the concentration on one particular lady's face was a picture, it was the best €5 I've spent in a long time.

Wild horses wouldn't have dragged me away from the vide grenier at neighbouring village Froidfond, on Sunday morning.  Of course, I made a couple of purchases, two CDs €1 each and a wicker jug for 50 centimes....last of the big spenders eh?

Next stop was Bretignolles sur Mer. Before we left I telephoned a favourite restaurant of mine to make a lunch reservation, but was told that they were full.  It wasn't a problem as we found another place that was just as nice and ate our salade on their sun terrace with fabulous views of the beach. Afterwards we ambled along the sand, nothing like the exercise required to burn off calories from the king-sized crepes we'd consumed! 

After poking around in a few rock pools and finding some scallop shells we found ourselves a comfy rock and had forty winks under the sun.

On Monday the sun had a day off but we weren't deterred and continued with our plan to visit L'Île de Noirmoutier.  Since 1971 this island off the coast of Vendée has been linked to the mainland by a bridge,

another way of reaching the island is by the causeway, Le Passage du Gois

which is navigable for an hour, twice a day at low tide.  We took the bridge!

Once on Noirmoutier, we stopped for a coffee followed by some browsing
in the few shops that were open...many shops are closed in France on a Monday.
As it was threatening to rain we took shelter in this restaurant where we enjoyed another good lunch.

  I chose the Plat du Jour, 'loup de mer' which I seemed to remember was sea bass but not trusting my memory 100%, I thought I'd google it.  I asked the waiter for le code wifi but he just shook his head and said 'non', I imagine he thought quite rightly, that I shouldn't be looking at my phone during a meal.

Afterwards we explored the back streets of the main town,

the castle
and St Philbert's church

about which I could go into more detail, but fearful of this post dragging on, I won't!

As we headed back to the car park through narrow alleys we saw a crowd of women hanging over a garden gate so went to investigate.

 These two elderly ladies told the assembled crowd that they had discovered this family of  cats in the garden of the derelict house and had been feeding them for several days.

The kittens were adorable but it was this lady's socks that most held my attention.

Tuesday arrived all too soon and it was time to close up my van for the winter before flying back to the UK.  I won't be visiting again this year as even with heating, it gets a bit nippy during the colder months.

So that's it, until the spring it's au revoir et à bientôt....and in case you're wondering, 'auntie' loved it. 
Linking with FASTblog for Five On Friday 


  1. What a treat! I loved this post, the perfect antidote to a chilly October morning.
    That first meal was a right bargain and the concert looked brilliantly entertaining.
    Sounded like you'd pulled that chap with the pipe. Do you feel like you have to apologise for Brexit to our European friends? I do!
    Those cats! Gorgeous.
    Your caravan is just lovely. xxxx

    1. Yes, I really feel that I should make it known that I do not support Brexit and neither did almost half of the people that actually made the effort to vote. I try to be uber friendly and polite in case they are of the opinion that Brits are a bunch of xenophobes. xx

  2. Your photos of beautiful things like sunny beaches and cats made me smile over here where it's a gray & drizzly day. Looks like you had a wonderful time going to the beach, enjoying great restaurants and shows as well as meeting new people. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Thank you for taking us with you on your final French holiday of the year. I bet you'll miss your little place there, which is looking very inviting, by the way. I'd never heard of L'Île de Noirmoutier, but it looks like a fascinating place. My eyes were drawn to that lady's socks too. How did she keep them from falling down, I wonder ... xxx

    1. I am rather sad that I won't see my van for several months now but it doesn't have the same appeal in winter and I can't tolerate the cold. I got the impression that those ladies were an eccentric pair. xx

  4. Forty winks on the beach! what a treat. Great photos. Jo x

  5. Your vacation trip was amazing! Loved all the photos and commentary...and that video is awesome! What fun!

    1. It was a great evening, glad you enjoyed the video.

  6. Looks like you had a wonderful time away. Great photos! Glad you were able to take your Aunt with you.

    Happy Five on Friday!

    1. It really was a fab trip, the weather was perfect.

  7. Didn't you eat well!

    I really enjoyed your post, Fi. It was lovely to see around your part of France and how nice to have company to explore it with. I have an aunt who is only 12 years older than me and I grew up with her - we had great times together.

    Is a vide grenier a car boot sale?

    The concert looked brilliant. The woman's socks were hilarious; the Norah Batty equivalent of socks perhaps? The church looked charming and I loved the statue complete with stylish scarf.

    Never mind, the time to visit the van again will soon come round...

    Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Yes a vide grenier is a car boot sale Vronni, it means 'empty attic' in French. You are right, next year will come soon enough and in the meantime there's always a blanket to be crocheted. xx

  8. Very pleasant holidays for you ! I prefer to go to England, just on the other side. Have friends in Eastbourne. France is too close to Belgium and then it's almost the same, lol ! I am also against the Brexit and all people I know agree with me. What a stupid thing to do.

  9. Your caravan is providing you with great pleasure, what a great base to go to and go on adventures. How beautiful is that Church!! Must admit the old ladies socks had me laughing!!

    1. Must admit I wondered how they got that baggy.

  10. Love your travelogues Fiona and all he gorgeous photo's of the area around your 'van'! Hope you're well and I can now tell you that I am officially a Granny.....zimmer frames anyone? xx

    1. Thanks Chris. Can't see you with a zimmer frame, but if you did have one I bet you'd pimp it up. xx


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