WHAT WE MISS FROM FRANCE
Yeah, what are we missing? In short – everything. And that means something. Because I have been on the warpath since my first French lesson – that would be about 38 years today. Now I regret that I do not speak French better. I would have loved to talk to the French, follow the discussions or simply ask for direction. The country – above all Brittany – and the people were able to win a big place in my heart. Claudia is also fascinated by France and also by Brittany. And that’s why: What we miss about France – is so much and that’s why the report is a little longer.
WHAT WE MISS FROM FRANCE
NORMANDY – SAD PAST AND STRONG WINDS
Normandy has an eventful past. Recently the sad remains of the 2nd World War are omnipresent in many places. These silent witnesses of the past make us think. Today, in 2018, when I let my gaze wander outside into the world and see world events before my eyes, not much has really changed. Syria has been at war for years. Sudan and especially the South Sudan (one hears and reads little in the media, why actually ???) has lost the borders of any form of humanity. Genocide in South Asia is the order of the day. And many more countries could be listed here. Sas world. Man has learned nothing from the past and I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be time for a massive meteor to hit the earth and turn day into night. However, these are topics that we certainly do not miss. Therefore now to the actual missing.
Whoever has ever stood on one of the many cliffs of Normandy knows this rough, nasty wind. And it is wonderful. Just stand in front of a cliff in wind direction, take a few steps closer to the cliff and let the wind carry you. This tremendous power of the airy element can really be felt all over your body. Sometimes speeds of up to 150 Km/h are reached. Hei… there you put it down and don’t get up so fast when you get caught by such a breeze.
If you stand in the morning on one of the steep coasts you could think that someone has stolen the sea overnight. The tides are huge here, and there’s low tide in the morning. That’s when the French set off in droves – armed with rubber boots, knives and baskets – to search the mudflats for mussels, oysters and crabs. The knife is there for two reasons. On the one hand to cut the mussels from the rocks, on the other hand to crack one or the other and eat it for breakfast.
If you approach one of the largest port cities in Europe, Le Havre, from Dieppe, you will first come across a natural phenomenon on the alabaster coast that attracts crowds of onlookers – usually called tourists. In the small but charming village of Étretat you can admire the eroded arch of the rock gate. We are already on the beach in the morning and – because it is low tide – we can walk under the cliffs (well, it was more like climbing, abseiling and shimmying) and experience the hole in the rock of the coast very closely. Walking on the big pebbles is very tiring and also gave Claudia a sore muscle – the next day. And because it gets quite cool in the night, the flora on this steep coast has already slowly put on its autumn dress. Which of course leads to the contrasts to the extreme.
Shortly before one drives to Brittany, Normandy presents one of the most famous sightseeings of the world – Le Mont Saint Michel. We park at the coast near the small place Grandville and have a fantastic view (including sunset) of the island with its cathedral in the sea. The next day we go to the island with a camera and a backpack – as it is proper for tourists – armed. The small alleys at the foot of the mountain island… or is it called island with mountain… or even inselberg… whatever – are narrow and old but very well maintained. Trick – is also the capital of this little place. The way then leads up to the cathedral. For the entrance to the consecrated place they charge an entrance fee of 10 Euro. Hey, let’s say to ourselves… we are only here once and we pay the entrance fee. Spend???? One can only say that with the small unit of the Swiss franc, the centime. Does it have to be called “becente”? Anyway, the view out to the sea – if it wasn’t already low tide – is breathtaking. Sand, nothing but sand to the horizon. That’s kilometres of low tide – if this expression has such validity.
BRITTANY – HOME OF ASTERIX AND OBELIX
I think the comic experts are still arguing today about where the village of the indomitable really is. All I can say is, “The experts are crazy.” Brittany – how to describe this department? Words alone cannot describe this beautiful stretch of coast. The nature is overwhelming. The tough plants along the coasts and the lonely bays remind me of the Maggia in Corsica. I don’t know what these plants are called here, but the smell is incomparable even in autumn. If the wind doesn’t whistle so violently around your ears, a carpet scent of rosemary, wild fennel, salty algae and heather (a plant you can buy everywhere at the florist in autumn) covers the nature. With a view of the sea, unhindered to the horizon and these scents, you quickly forget all your worries. Hei… here the soul opens up and the heart becomes light.
Culinary Brittany is also the hammer. Who knows the drink Somersby called cider? Throw away the industrial crap and enjoy one of the countless ciders from Brittany. The cider is available as Brut or Doux (Herb or Sweet) and even a rosé leads the palate to dances of joy. The drink is usually served in a cup. It’s really no joke! In every restaurant these bulbous cups are on the table and that is where the cider is drunk. Anyone who drinks the cider from a glass is stoned to death. 🙂 🙂
What the cider is in liquid form, the galettes are in solid form. The sweet varieties are better known as crêpes and are usually prepared with a flour mixture and milk. Since both of us (Claudia is allergic to milk protein and I am allergic to lactose) do not even try the crêpes. Instead, we try all the more of the galettes. They are made with buckwheat flour and water (of course with even more ingredients) and are rather salty to enjoy. There are no limits to the variety of variations. In the simple and classic way, the galettes are served with jambon (ham), oeuf (egg) or mushrooms. The inclined reader will have noticed that I have used French words. Hehe…
Then there are more noble types like with Roquefort (blue cheese) or salmon. And, and, and, and… I can’t list the many varieties. Just visit Brittany and enjoy some galettes. There is a great choice in Saint-Malo at Les Lutins or in Morlaix at the Creperie L’Hermine.
There are so many beautiful places in Brittany. Once in a lifetime you have to be here. I don’t usually make such statements lightly – for Brittany, this is true at any moment.
WEST COAST – BEACHES, SUN, SEA
The west coast is the meeting point for all kinds of water sports. Here the waves are ridden, sailed, kite surfed, power comparisons with powerful boats are made, diving, snorkeling, SUP (Stand up Paddeling) etc. The sea here has the right wave or water temperature for every water rat. Speaking of water temperature. This never seems to be an obstacle for surfers and kiters. It doesn’t matter if the sea at Beaufort 9 or 10 makes the spray rise, the air temperature freezes the poplar in the nose… The surfers and kiters stand on their boards and chase through the waves or jump high into the air. I have to take a closer look at the feet of a surfer/kiter… maybe they have webbed feet or have a skin like ducks on their feet… who knows. 🙂 🙂
In La Croisic we are standing at the roadside, only a few meters from the sandy beach. Here we enjoy a last bath, because the water temperatures are really brrrr… 16 degrees or so. And the next day we start our trip to La Rochelle. At this point we don’t know what to expect in La Rochelle.
So we enter La Rochelle, park the DuBu on a parking lot outside the city center and waddle happily into the center of the city. On the way there I see an illuminated sign. I don’t usually look at such billboards – although I was a marketing fuzzy in a previous life. But this board has something magical – ships. It is the penultimate day of this exhibition and so we decide to go to the fair on Sunday. And hey… we as sailing lovers have more than just licked blood that day. We stroll through the pontoons and marvel at the multitude of ships here. We stop at the Neel brand. Neel builds trimarans, but not ordinary ones. Neel has combined the living comfort of a catamaran with the sailing qualities of a trimaran, and from this, beautiful, fast and safe ships have been created. We’s not believing, have a look here http://www.neel-trimarans.com. We were particularly impressed by the Neel 47, which is still under construction, but will be presented to the public in La Grande Motte at the end of April 2019. This date is written in bold in our agenda.
Then we suddenly find ourselves in front of Amel. Another top class boat builder. Amel ships have the reputation that even after many years they are still very robust and provide very good living comfort. We enter – like the Neil 45 and 51 before – the new Amel 50. A madness … above and below deck the Amel convinces in every respect. I don’t want to get off this ship anymore. Wrap it up, tie a bow on it, take it with you. Want a look? Here is more: https://www.amel.fr/amel-50/
We drive further south and arrive in the middle of the night in the area near Arcachon. Here we want to climb the largest shifting sand dune in Europe – the Dune du Pilat – the next day. Who knows Murphy? Especially who knows his law – Murphy’s Law? This guy always seems to appear when you definitely don’t need him or his law. This was also the case with our ascent to the dune of Pilat. We drive along the forest to a parking lot, get out and start hiking. Due to the dense forest along the entire dune, we naturally do not see where the dune is highest. And just now this Murphy guy comes along. Of course we parked where the dune is highest and steepest. If I should ever meet Murphy, I hit him so hard on the shin that he rolls into the cellar. So we climb the dune with a gradient of about 80% to a height of about 140 meters – really great. But our efforts are rewarded by the breathtaking view from the highest point of the dune. Sunshine, blue sky and the sea in the same blue. A lukewarm breeze is blowing and just bahhh …
France and especially the French in Brittany impressed us enormously. This region and the people there have won a place in our hearts. We are always very happy to return to this enchanting place. The Frenchman encounters the cosiness of eating, enjoying and driving without pressure.
We can only confirm a cliché that has long been attached to the Frenchman. A Frenchman without baguette is only half French. But this is not bad on the contrary, the variety of baguette variations is fascinating. And the things taste great. So we will definitely miss the baguettes. The social life of the French often takes place on a simple, preferably sandy place. This is where young and old meet to play a game of balls together – boules. We also bought a set and try to compete with each other again and again.
What impressed us very much is that in every shop – whether Super- Hyper- or Megamarche – in the vegetable and fruit department there are no plastic bags. On the other hand, you can find compost bags. Some shops across Europe can still cut a big slice of the cloth. Especially the very big players in the field such as Lidl, Aldi, Migros, Coop etc. should finally move forward and ban plastic bags for good.
We are very fond of France and with so much passion we are almost half French compared to this country. Now it must only och with the language work. Now it just needs to work with the language.
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