It was harder to plan compared to other years, indeed it had to be postponed a few times thanks to Covid-19 but we made it to the originally planned location in Brittany.
June 8th to 12th 2021
To be more specific, we went to this wonderful place called “Le Golf du Morbihan”. In the local Breton language, Morbihan means “the small sea”. Within this gulf, there are countless islands and islets. It is estimated that there are 30 to 40.
An ideal location for our Gang of 1968 “La Bande” reunion. Most of us made it and since we all live in different parts of France each made their own way.
As far as we were concerned, we picked up my friend Philipe from Carcassonne’s train station at 9:30am and we left straight away. We had planned an overnight stop and had reserved hotel rooms in La Rochelle.
The drive there was smooth and felt quick fast despite the 5 hours needed (which included a fairly short lunch break just after Bordeaux).
Brilliant sunshine in La Rochelle, many people out. The Ibis hotel was located right in the middle of town by the port. Extremely convenient. Quick check-in and out we go for a couple of well deserved drinks.
Having been to La Rochelle myself not so long ago, I could lead for the ensuing short walk around town.
I discovered this wonderful comic books shop. I certainly wish I had one like that back home in Carcassonne. Reminded me I need to catch up on my Buck Danny collection. I obviously am missing the latest publication.
Found a great place at the port, less than 100 meters from the hotel, for a well deserved aperitif in a place called ” Terrasse de la Chaine“
On the way there we had reserved for dinner in one of the many restaurants around the port and in town. In this case we only had to cross the road to get to the “Bistrot des Pêcheurs“. We had a pleasant enough sea food fare.
Early to bed for the simple fact that the Covid-19 related curfew was in operation and we could not even get a night cap in the hotel which was closing its doors when we made our way back to it. The Ibis chain of hotels which belongs to the Accord Hotels Group (known as All) has certainly improved over the past few years. Many of the hotels have been revamped and for the low price are extremely comfortable and convenient. The interior decoration of the one we were staying it had a nice twist as it represented train tracks and containers. Certainly a novel idea. Not sure I would cope with it if I had a longer stay though.
Up bright and fairly early, we set off after breakfast towards Brittany.
Another pleasant enough car journey which somehow felt a little bit longer than the previous day although it was 2 hours shorter. Probably because there were less motorways to be used. We decide it is a little too early to go to our friends’ house so we end up in the next town of Vannes for a bit of lunch.
Brilliant weather in the area which can be quite unusual unlike what is said by the locals
We decide it is a little too early to go to our friends’ house where we were expected so we ended up in the next town of Vannes for a bit of lunch. Vannes is a beautiful little town with a lot of medieval houses and must be on a bucket list of places to visit.
Instead of going for, as one would have expected, a local sea-food platter I was tempted by one of my favorite dish. The famous Andouillette. I have yet to meet someone not originally from France who likes those. I can assure you that this one was excellent and did the trick.
Early afternoon with a full tummy we made our way to Le Tour du Parc where our friends P&J live by the sea and where we were all expected.
We do not see each other very often and certainly not in this group but we keep in touch regularly and some visit others on a regular basis. Nevertheless we had a fair amount to catch up with. Covid-19 was of course a major topic since a few had experienced it and in one case with very serious consequences. But in the end, everybody had recovered and although the conversations were concentrating a fair amount on illnesses (too much for my liking – is it a sign of getting old?) we did have a lot of other news and memories to catch up with.
But enough talking and time to go for a walk together with the 2 dogs along the seafront.
The plan is to go to the well known “Île aux Moines” which is a perl in one of the most beautiful bay France can offer. So mid-morning we leave and drive to Port Navalo where we have to catch the ferry which will take us there.
There is of course some time available for a short walk around and a coffee at the port waiting for the boat.
The view is spectacular in particular seing the effect of the extremely powerful tidal current called “Le Courant de la Jument”. it is said to be the second strongest current in Europe.
Between Port-Navalo and Locmariaquer is the gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan. The mouth of the gulf opens onto an inland sea of 115 km2 dotted with some forty islands and islets. The sea enters and exits a narrow passage 900 m wide: the Port-Navalo Narrows. Boats that enter this passage must beware of the tidal current, which can reach speeds of almost 9 knots, or more than 4 metres per second.
The ride on the boat takes about an hour thanks to the skill of the captain and crew who know where to avoid or where to use the current. QUITE IMPRESSIVE.
Of course by the time we arrive on the island it is time for lunch and a few hundred metres from the port is a very pleasant restaurant.
The it is time for a walk around the island
It was quite a long walk but well worth it. Apart from the old houses and buildings, the sea views and the beaches are something else. If only the weather could be guaranteed!!!
P&J had organised a visit the their nearest oyster parc and an extremely interesting presentation and explanation by the owner. Of course it culminated by an oyster and other shellfish tasting later in the evening. The place was a few hundred meters away and we walked there. Philippe had brought his roller with him so some had to try it on the way. All in all an excellent evening to end up the day.
The plan for the day is to drive to Vannes for lunch and a tour of the town. On the way there some stop at a local market or a local specialities shop.
When in Brittany you cannot not go and sample sea-food nor can you avoid pancakes / crêpes. And it is in the latter that we end up for lunch
J&P had organised a tour of the old town and remparts. For this we met a professional guide who led us and told us a lot about the history of the place.
Time to go home with a quick stop en route at a fishmonger to pick up the pre-ordered mussels which were on the evening menu.
Before the obligatory aperitif and dinner, some feel the need to jump in the pool after it has been opened of course.
Time to say goodbye
We had decided to do an overnight stop in Bordeaux on the way back home. The hotel was easy enough to find and very well located in the town centre which meant we could and explore on foot. It was easy enough to find a very pleasant bar for a couple of pre-dinner drinks.
We had dinner a few hundred metres away at on of the Ragazzi Da Peppone restaurants. The food s usual was fresh, good and typical Italian. Unfortunately it was not possible to go to the cellar and choose our own wine bottle which is quite an adventure in itself. Indeed they had experienced not long before some flood and had to close for safety reason the access to the general public. Not to worry, we nevertheless got the bottle of wine I was looking for.
From Bordeaux to Carcassonne it is a 3 hours drive on motorways. I forgot to mention that this was the 1st trip with our brand new car and that it performed perfectly. A pleasure to drive.
Excellent few days away
The question is: whee do we meet next?
I have my own idea…
43°27′34″ North – 3°25′25″ East