Wednesday, May 09, 2007

from France: looking out

What’s a day like here? Yes, I walk, there are misty rains and plates piled high with shellfish. The fields are covered with artichoke heads and cauliflower globes and every person that passes shouts out a greeting.

But what’s it like to be here in the midst of spring?

One day at a time. Take yesterday: I wake up in a b&b just outside the sizable town of Treguier. A bird is at the window and it is sort of fitting.


The inn (Kastell Dinec’h) is an old house, run by an older woman, with the help of her daughter and granddaughter. OK, maybe the little girl isn’t much help. She’s only two and in the morning, she runs up to me, jumps into my arms and demands a kiss. She’s their charm agent and you forgive her running footsteps upstairs, above your room.

After breakfast, Ed and I hike to Treguier...

DSC01638 catch a bus to Lannion, an even bigger regional town – the only one in this area that has a train station. Except I read the bus schedule incorrectly and so we don’t really have a bus to catch. A costly mistake which only a taxi can save. Sigh.

We are waiting at the station, with still a few minutes to spare. Good thing there is bakery across the street. Good thing there are plenty of apple croissants and raisin croissants – you know, for variety.

We catch the train to Plouaret, where we catch another train to Morlaix where we catch another train to Roscoff. All on time, no missed connections.

Roscoff by the sea. Yes, there are a half dozen hotels, but the coastline remains untarnished by us, the tourists. This isn’t a beach casino town. There are no tour buses either, though maybe it is early in the season? Roscoff looks like what it tries to be: the "pink onion" capital of the world.


We wander into an algae store. A new variety is discovered every week (the store clerk tells us)! I’m in. I buy algae soap, algae spread (great with toast or artichokes!), algae scrub. I walked on the stuff at low tide and now I plan to smear it on my body. How odd we are, the occasional tourists who can’t get enough of their place.

The main street of Roscoff has a number of eating spots and one or two souvenir stores. At some point in the summer there will be tourists here, but now, the streets are empty but for the occasional French family out for a brisk walk..


A footbridge runs into the ocean waters. At the end, there is a platform for passengers of the ferry that runs back and forth to the offshore island. Walking it at low tide feels windy, dangerous, spectacular! The gust runs between groups of rocks and blows at you so hard that you are certain you'll be thrown into the waters below.


It is amazing how high the water level is by evening! Rock islands, so visible in the late afternoon are gone. Someone turned the ocean faucet on and let it flow too long! It happens so quickly! One, two, three, all flooded.


We eat a cheap meal at a pricey eatery. I say without hesitation that it is always better in France to do this rather than eating the expensive selections in a moderate eatery.

Here, take a look at this seafood and seasonal asparagus amuse bouche:


Then comes the meal. I have eaten so much seafood the past days that I am beginning to feel the addiction. What, no snails for breakfast? But here, at dinner, the chef works inordinately hard to create masterpieces. Yes, he has his emblem – his Michelin rosette. Want to find him and the wonderful little hotel his wife presides over? Check Ask for an Ocean View (link in Ocean sidebar) in several weeks. It will be there.

My images of Brittany include a night walk under a brooding sky. Forget it. I’m spent. Tomorrow. Definitely then. Or the next day. Oh, I’ leaving then. That’s okay, I still have a Brittany post in me – about offshore islands and kind ferry captains. In the meanwhile, a glance out the window, just for balance.