United Kingdom, France · 15 Days · 65 Moments · July 2017

Frederick and Isabel in Brittany

21 July 2017

Sadly, it was our last day in France today, so it was time to board our Brittany ferry back to Portsmouth. We had a smooth crossing, and Frederick and Isabel went to the onboard cinema to see The Boss Baby, which was very good. There was a 3D printer on board. The 3D printer works by melting a filament of plastic and laying it down in thin layers to build up the model. The boat model takes hour 1 hour 10 minutes.

20 July 2017

Today we had pizzas for dinner from a restaurant on the seafront, different to the one we visited yesterday. They were really tasty, with thin, crispy bases. Another (rather odd) Orangina glass for Isabel too!
As the weather had really cheered up we went to the beach. The sea was the roughest that we had seen it, but there were still lots of children swimming around in the waves (luckily, as at most beaches we had visited, there were lifeguards on duty!) This beach was a bit different to the others we had visited as it was surrounded by sand dunes. We played another five rounds of our new stick game before heading back to our accommodation.
As the weather was not looking so good we decided to go and show Isabel the amphibious boat port that we had found on one of our trips in the past. The boats all have wheels so that they can drive on land. The reason for the amphibious boat is for the mussel farming that goes on in Mont Saint Michel Bay. What they do is use the boat part to sail out to the mussels as the tide is going out then when is it out they can drive around doing all the work. They don't wait until the tide is out to drive out so that they can maximise the time they have to work. What they are doing is growing mussels on ropes. When the mussels are young the ropes are spread out between posts in long lines. Then when they are big enough the workmen take the ropes and wrap then around big posts until they are big enough to be eaten. Then along comes an amphibious boat with a special crane bucket that scrapes the mussels off from the post and then it is off to market. Mussels and chips are sold at most restaurants!
Another great viewpoint was 'The Belvedere of the Waves', a repurposed old windmill, which is now an art installation and viewing tower. Nearby there was also a studio and shop displaying model windmills and lighthouses, but sadly it was closed for lunch so we could only see through the fence!
On route to our next destination we stopped off at a high viewpoint where we could look over Cancale. Here I took an interesting panorama photo featuring Frederick and his twin! We also popped into a Spar supermarket for our lunch supplies. This was interesting, as it was stocked with a much wider variety of things than the Spars at home! There was even an inflatable cow advertising Milka chocolate up on top of the fridge!
Yellow car! Isabel really liked this unusual vehicle parked near our accommodation!
In the morning we went back again to Cancale harbour and this time we saw the oyster farming operation fully in progress. There were lots of tractors going to and fro, so we were careful to stay out of their path! The oysters were being sold in a small oyster market right next to where the tractors were passing. We saw lots of tractors come and go as we sat on the wall next to the oyster farm. Some of the tractors were pulling trailers with boats on them but most had flat bed trailers so that they could take away the oysters in the bags that were the right size to be eaten.

19 July 2017

To finish the evening we went for another walk around the harbour as the sun was setting. There is a pier here used for work vehicles (relating to the mussel and oyster farming), and although there is a sign staying it is for workers only, everyone was using it like a normal public pier.
In the evening we ate dinner at a really nice restaurant on the seafront at Cancale. Isabel had Orangina to drink (in another nice glass), and Frederick had the local alternative 'Breizh Cola' instead of his usual Diet Coke ('Coca Light'). He enjoyed this slightly different 'off-brand' version of the drink!
Once we had brought our bags in from the car we decided to go on a walk around the harbour at Cancale. There were lots of boats and also a small lighthouse to see.
We then settled down at our new accommodation, a self catering house on the seafront in Cancale. This is a big house, with three bedrooms and convertible sofas, so it sleeps up to nine! There were two double bedrooms, and also three beds in Isabel's room for her to choose from! The house used to belong to the owner's grandparents, and it has lots of old-looking furniture alongside modern nautical touches. It has sea views and a very nice kitchen, so it's a shame that we'll only be staying for two nights!
On the way to our final accommodation in Cancale we had a couple of car wash tokens left, so Frederick had another go!
We then had our lovely rotisserie chicken lunch on the walk beside the beach - it was delicious! We then played another round of our stick game, nearly getting it washed away by the sea as it came in, as it was an especially long round!
We then went to St Cast beach for one final time. On the beach we played our new game again, which was really good. It was a little different playing on sand rather than on the grass as we had done so far, but we all seem to be getting the hang of it!
There was lots of interesting food on display at the French market, as well as clothes and housewares. We went to a very good butchers and bought a rotisserie chicken with potatoes, ready to eat for lunch later!
This morning it was time to say goodbye to the lovely camp site - our week's stay went so quickly! We cleared our of our van and said goodbye to the goats, and then headed to the street market in nearby Matignon. Chateau du Galinee is a really nice campsite with lots of trees. As you may have gathered, we were staying in a big static caravan. This was nice, with 3 bedrooms but it was still small and you have to keep going round the other people and remembering to close doors! The campsite has a complex of outdoor swimming pools with some water slides, and this area is referred to as the 'water park'. It also has some fishing ponds and as you all know some goats. I really like the look and feel of the campsite.

18 July 2017

Whilst we were in the aquarium Philip and Jane managed to find an interesting looking game that we had been watching people play this week at the camp site and on the beach. After dinner we had a go at translating the rules and played it together - we all agreed that it is very good! It is based on an old game from Norway, and involves using a wooden baton to knock down twelves posts which are a bit like skittles. These are numbered one to twelve and set up 3 to 4 metres away from the throwing point. The winner is the first to get to exactly 50 points, but you only score the number on the post if you hit it on its own. If you hit more than one down, you score one point per post knocked over. We played in teams until it got too dark to see!
As it was raining, we (in this case just Frederick and Isabel) went to the Grand Aquarium in St Malo. Philip and Jane explored a local town instead. Lots of tourists and locals had the same idea about visiting the aquarium, so it was quite busy to begin with, but there were lots of great exhibits and we saw hawksbill sea turtles, huge sharks and beautiful tropical fish. There were also two extra attractions included - The Abyss Decender that was a simulated plunge 1000 metres below sea level, and the Nautibus, a ride underwater through a tank containing 5,000 fish! We had a lovely time and took lots of photos!
After the car wash it was lunch time so we stopped at a harbour near a hydroelectric dam. Whilst we ate lunch a thunderstorm blew over us, but luckily we were in the car so it was ok. But it was still cool seeing all the flashes of lightning. The storm meant that we had to change our plans!
Today we have been washing the car because that's what you do on holiday! We went to a car wash where you do it yourself. The first step was to brush with a brush that had soapy water coming out of it. The next step was to use the high pressure sprayer with soaps. Doing this looked and felt like putting a fire out as it was quite a thick foam. The final step was to use the high pressure jet to wash off the soap. I really liked washing the car and I wish we had a pressure washer back at home!
When we got back we had dinner at the van and then we went as usual to feed the goats our leftovers!

17 July 2017

We popped out again to the supermarket for supplies, and dinner this evening was burgers and sausages cooked by Frederick on a barbecue outside our van. We ate outside on our wooden balcony, and it was all very nice! We were also impressed that French disposable barbecues are sold with a small bottle of water to extinguish them, and come fitted with legs to prevent them from damaging the ground too! We think this should be standard in the UK as well, as it should prevent the damage we've seen caused by disposable barbecues!
In the afternoon we returned to the beach that we found yesterday near St Jacut. We had noticed that the sea left a sand bar in the afternoon and that you could walk along this to reach a small island. So we decided to do this walk, which at the start involved wading through the shallow sea. We also learnt to recognise the bubbles of cockles beneath the sand, although the shellfish we did find we liberated back to the sea rather than collecting them for tea as the locals were doing!
Before lunch we played boules in a specially designed area of the campsite.

16 July 2017

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the caravan - steak with Camembert cheese sauce!
Today we visited another lovely beach near St Jacut. Again, the weather had started out really overcast and then became beautiful sunshine! We made more sand castles, looked in more rock pools and enjoyed watching the retreat of the water. The locals all rushed down with buckets at that point in search of cockles! When we got back to the camp site it was still warm enough, so we had a lovely swim in the camp site's outdoor pool.

15 July 2017

In the evening we visited a different supermarket and had dinner back at the caravan. There were lots of vegetable scraps for the goats, so we fed them these between dinner and dessert. Unusually the baby goats came out this evening, and someone told us that they are just 6 days old!
We then sat on a wall overlooking the beach and ate our lovely sandwiches (made by sandwich-making expert Philip, who had made them for us most days!) We then spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach itself. The weather was beautifully sunny again, and we paddled in the sea, watched the boats, built sand castles and dammed the water right across the beach to make a warm foot spa/ pond!
Today we went to Saint-Luniere. First we played mini golf up above the beach, which was a lovely location. We had the whole 18 holes completely to ourselves so we could take our time! Isabel was not playing at her best, as you can see from our score sheet!

14 July 2017

To finish Bastille Day we went back to our local beach at St Cast. Here there was a disco on the beach, and an impressive fireworks display at 11:30pm, with the fireworks let off from the beach itself. Isabel was a little surprised that the local people had also brought along their own fireworks, which they kept setting off whilst we were waiting for the official ones. We kept ourselves at a safe distance from these amateur displays, and also sat at quite some distance from the disco! It was a late end to the day, but the fireworks were beautiful and well worth seeing! We could also see a couple of other large displays taking place at beaches in the distance!
We popped out to the supermarket again in the evening for dinner ingredients, and bought fresh Gallettes (a bit like crepes, but with different flour), which we had with ham, cheese and eggs. We then fed some leftover lettuce to the goats. Beside the goat and chicken pen there are also two fishing ponds, home to ducks and a mammal called a coypu. Jane and Philip managed to see the coypu whilst we were goat feeding! There is also an unusual resident duck at the pond, which is apparently very old. It has some strange mannerisms, moving its head a bit like a snake.
After such an action-packed week so far, and finding the morning overcast too, we decided to have a more relaxed day based on the camping site. We visited the onsite shop, played table tennis, saw the goats in the day (which also meant we saw two newborn pygmy goats and all the chickens out and about) and we did some stuff on the computer.

13 July 2017

In the evening we went again to our local supermarket to get the ingredients for dinner. There is an area where 'specials' are sold, which always has lively music playing! When we got back we had tea in the caravan and then went down to feed the leftover parsley to the goats. As there is a 'pecking order' amongst them, we are now careful to be feeding all at the same time so no-one gets chased away! As well as leftovers, the goats love to be given leaves from the surrounding trees, but this has meant that low branches have been well stripped by the visiting children! Luckily, there are some lime trees with side growing stems which are a good height for us to reach, and likely to be unwanted by the campsite landowner.
When we got back we went for another swim, this time in the outdoor swimming pool. This has a couple of slides, one of which is a little too fast! The water was also pretty cold, and somehow to Isabel it felt even colder than the sea!
Today we went to a lovely local beach called St Cast. Although the weather was expected to be overcast, it actually turned out very sunny, and we all went swimming in the sea. We also dug a couple of very large holes and made a couple of sand mountains!

12 July 2017

We stayed in the lovely Hotel des Bains in Granville, right next to the beach. The hotel has changed a lot since the Bryan family last stayed there. Frederick is not sure that he likes what they have done with the place as they have made it dark and dingy by using dark colours in the corridors and rooms. Having said that, it was still a nice place to stay.
In the evening we checked in to our caravan at Chateau du Galinee. This is a very modern holiday home, appearing to be in its first season. It is very tastefully decorated, with enough space for us all. It is also in a lovely woodland setting where mostly what you can hear is birdsong! We then did some shopping at a local supermarket to get some essentials and our dinner. We had sausages, diced potatoes and peas. After dinner we had a good walk around to see the facilities (and met the goats!) and after desert we walked around the camp site hearing and seeing bats (common pipistrelles) using our bat detectors. We also heard tawny owls calling (twit-twoo!)
We had a guided tour in English (lasting 1hr 15m), which took us all around this ancient building. Our tour guide was very friendly and engaging, and there were lots of points of interest along the route she took us. We were shown makers' marks on the stone blocks, decorated tiles from the original stone floor, and a huge people-powered wheel that was once used to lift supplies up the building.
In the exhibition space there were a series of models showing how Mont Saint Michel was changed throughout its history. There was also a model showing how a helicopter was used to remove and replace the statue of St Michel when it was recently restored.
For lunch we had baguettes from a shop we passed as we walked through the village on our way up. There were also lots of souvenir shops on the route, which wound around the mount as we followed a series of steps to reach the top. The area was incredibly busy with tourists (it was strange seeing some English people again!), so we walked to a quieter area to stop to eat our lunch.
We were very lucky that the weather cheered up as we approached Mont-Saint-Michel, so we did do the full visit after all. This abbey and village built on a rocky mound is a major visitor attraction, and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. There were beautiful views across the bay from this high vantage point. It is believed that the first sanctuary was built here in 708, and then the generations that followed adapted it to their needs. We saw construction from the Middle Ages, and the Romans, as well as restoration work in action. As well as the historic features, there were temporary modern art installations, and the 1897 Saint Michael statue on top had just been re-guilded, so it was shining very brightly in the unexpected sunshine!
To get to Mont-Saint-Michel you have to get on a bus. The buses are not like your normal bus as they have driving seats at both ends. This is so that they do not need to turn them around at each end. Also the wing mirrors automatically folded in at the end of the bus not in use. There was another option for getting there, and that was horse and cart, for an additional charge. The cart had slide out steps.
After leaving our hotel we drove through the mist and light rain to see Le Mont Saint Michel. We are not sure yet whether we'll just view it from this distance as the weather isn't great this morning!

11 July 2017

For dinner this evening we returned to the restaurant we ate at yesterday. We all had something different, and the food was so lovely that we ate everything on our plates! For dessert we had ice creams in cones whilst walking along the prom. We had passion fruit, fig and salted caramel flavours! There are lots of beach huts. There had been a bit of rain, and the waves were splashing up over the sea wall as the tide was well and truly in!
We also had a great time on the beautiful beach just below our hotel this afternoon! All of us swam in a man-made pool fed by the sea, sharing the very buoyant water with prawns, fish, crabs and other rock pool life!
For lunch we had paninis and chips from a booth by the sea front. The paninis were really good. We walked along the sea front to find a seat. After the paninis and chips I noticed a fire hydrant that had a lot of size adapters on it to take it from the large pipe down to the size of a garden hose. It had about 8 adaptors on it so it looked really funny.
On our way back for lunch we walked through the old town, which was very pretty.
Just wanted to put on a few photos of some of the usual toilets have seen! Enjoy! P.S. Some of them have made our public toilets at home look extremely well built and stocked!
This morning we had a very nice breakfast in our hotel, where we could see the sea view from the breakfast room. Then we went on another walk around the harbour, this time right around it. We saw an old dry dock and a large boat out of the water for repainting. We then walked up the hill and saw a lighthouse.

10 July 2017

After dinner we walked around Granville Harbour and had a good look at all the boats there. We saw one receiving its ice for the night's fishing. There was also an old fashioned sailing boat, which is a visitor attraction that people can board.
This evening we ate at The Diner's restaurant near Granville harbour, which was themed on movies and their stars. There were lots of great things on the menu, and we all had lovely meals. The food and drink was presented in really interesting ways too, including wonky glasses and a slice of wood!
When we visited the pizza place on the day we arrived the staff there recommended a local beach to us. It is called Siouville Beach, and we visited it today. It was a beautiful, wide sandy beach, and as the sun was still shining Frederick and I had a little swim! The beach was very quiet, and there were even showers to use afterwards! I enjoyed using my new beach towel that Frederick gave me for my birthday! Then it was time for our car journey to our next destination Granville. We listened to Radio 4 sitcom Cabin Pressure on the way - starting from the beginning as Frederick has not heard these before!
We have just left the apartment the we had been staying in for the last two nights. It was a nice apartment on the third floor. This meant climbing lots of stairs! The apartment was of a nice size it could have done with a bigger kitchen but apart from that it was good. It had a set of big windows that looked out on to the old facade of the local Louis Pasteur hospital. There was one double room and the living room had two separate fold out beds which were really comfortable!

9 July 2017

We also visited the exhibition about the Titanic. The connection is that Cherbourg was one of the stop offs that the ill-fated boat made before it hit the iceberg on route to New York. The exhibition was very modern and interesting, although it was of course a sad story to tell.
There was also a large aquarium area as part of La Cité de la Mer, where we saw lots of beautiful tropical fish, a black tipped reef shark, a sting ray and other rays that (unlike in the UK) we were allowed to touch very gently. We also saw some jellyfish and nautiluses. It was very well designed and laid out.
Another part of the attraction was a huge (out of service) nuclear submarine called Le Redoutable that you can go inside. You start at the back and with an audio tour get guided through the submarine to the front. The submarine looks huge from the outside and is really cramped on the inside as there is a lot they have to fit in. It is really interesting to see inside a proper submarine. Now I say it was a nuclear submarine, but actually they have removed the whole of the section that houses the reactor and replaced that section with a big empty tube. After the walk through of the submarine we played a computer simulation game where you become a submarine captain on a mission. Frederick was very good and got promoted to Admiral!
After a lovely breakfast in our apartment (including fresh baked pain au chocolat from the local bakery), we headed off for our day out at La Cité de la Mer. This is a large visitor attraction set in the old international ferry and train terminal at Cherbourg. To begin we went on a 'walk through the depths', an interactive walk through and simulator ride themed on us being trainee submarine divers. This was really a very unique experience, with clever use of photography throughout. We learnt signals to use to communicate when diving, and experienced what it might be like to go right into the depths of the ocean to see the unusual creatures that live there.

8 July 2017

Next we visited a lighthouse at Gatteville. It was very high with lots of people climbing up it, but none of us fancied that today! What we haven't really said so far is that the weather has been beautiful with wonderful blue skies and lovely blue water. Il fait chaud, which hopefully you will have picked up from some of our sunny photos! We walked around the bottom of the lighthouse, enjoying the views out to sea around it. From here we also saw quite a few interesting birds including gannets, cormorants and great black backed gulls.
We have just visited the beautiful town of Barfleur. We had decided to go to the town before the light house. By chance this was the right decision as there was a market on the street by the seafront and if we had gone to the light house first we would have missed it. For lunch we had sausage in baguette and chips from a market stall. The sausage was really nice. We ate them sat on a bench looking out over the harbour. After lunch we went for a short walk over the rocks near the harbour where we found some rock pools. Isabel bought a little book about rock pool animals, so she can tell you a little bit more in French: Il y a beaucoup des crutacés au bord de la mer. Ils sont des animaux qui possèdent une carapace pour protèger les corps. Il y a les crevettes, les crabes verbs et les étrilles. Aussi se rencontrent les mollusques: la grande gibbule, le nom de bernique et le bigorneau.
Our first stop was Fermanville. Here we had a lovely walk through the woodland and past old mill buildings to see a viaduct. We also saw some wildlife including dragonflies, long tailed tits, wrens and Isabel's favourite - wood ants! Isabel got a little too close though, with ants crawling over her shoes!
Bonjour day two. Last night we spent the night in a hotel called hotel F1. The hotel is the cheapest hotel we stay in, you can book on the day at €35. Having said that, we don't mean that it is a bad hotel. The only main difference is that you do not have on suite toilets and showers. One cool thing about the toilets and showers is that they clean themselves with water jets in their floors. We had a nice simple breakfast and now we are off for a day out.

7 July 2017

We took away our pizzas to eat them in the beautiful surroundings of the harbour at Le Becquet. Here we enjoyed the view of the boats and surrounding village scenery, with everything beautifully highlighted by the golden sun. The moon was also out and looking especially large. There were some local teenagers and younger children swimming and jumping into the water, near a sign saying swimming is prohibited. As they went passed us we realised that we didn't understand a word they were saying. It seems that 'teenager dialect' is difficult to understand in any language! We also had our little soft lion Bob with us - we got him during our last adventure at Chessington World of Adventures (see previous blog!)
After checking in at the hotel we got a takeaway pizza from a pizza place called Valentino. It seems that they put olives in every recipe! The pizza was very nice. The pizza came in a nice box.
We are on the boat on our way to France. The sea is quite calm today which is a good thing. The trip to France will only take 4 hours as we are on the fast ferry. Isabel is hoping to get re-acquainted with a little bit of the French she once knew by adding little bits to our blog in French. Here is today's attempt: Je vais allez en vacances dans le nord de La France avec mon copain et son famille. Le bateau est tres grand et vit. Je pense que il y a plus d'erreurs ici!