Beautiful Brittany, continued…
Brittany (or Bretagne) is full of beautiful small towns, each with its own distinct personality. Here are 3 of the ones we visited…
Cancale and the Stunning Pointe du Grouin
We decided to visit Cancale after our morning at Mont Saint-Michel. Cancale is a town known for its fresh seafood, especially its oysters, but we were still a bit full from lunch. So before diving into a plate of fresh oysters, we thought of taking a short diversion first. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I found a nice little walk very close to Cancale, called La Pointe du Grouin. The walk itself was fairly easy from the parking lot (though there was a little bit of scrambling over rocks). We were greeted by beautiful rock cliffs and tranquil brilliant blue waters, looking over into the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel.
After this walk, we were definitely ready for some oysters. We drove to the oyster market, or the Parc à Huitres, in Cancale. This oyster market is composed of about 6 merchants selling their oysters from little stands. There are absolutely no frills here: just fresh, delicious oysters (about €5-6 for a dozen, depending on the quality, plus an extra €1 or so for shucking and lemon) served on a plastic tray. Like everyone else, we then took these oysters and sat on a retaining wall overlooking the oyster beds. When we were done, we were instructed to toss our empty oyster shells back into the sea. Sadly, the no-frills market place didn’t have any white wine to along with this, but I remembered that I had a bottle of Brittany cider in the back of my car. Good enough.
After getting our oyster fix, we took a little walk along the Cancale pier, catching the sunset as we did so.
After trying to walk up an appetite (it didn’t really work), we nevertheless stopped for dinner at Au Vieux Safran, a nice, reasonably priced restaurant, with good service and fresh seafood. As much as I’m a seafood-lover, I must admit I was a little seafooded out by this time, a feeling that lasted about…oh…12 hours.
Dinard: A Peaceful Promenade
Dinard has been called the “Cannes of the North,” mainly due to its temperate climates, sandy beaches, and reputation with the rich and famous. However, since we were visiting at the end of November, we really didn’t experience any of the 3 (though at least it was sunny). At least we were able to peacefully walk along the main promenade of town, looking across to Saint Malo, rarely crossing paths with anyone else.
Saint-Malo: A Walled City
Our last stop was the unique city of Saint-Malo. The old town of Saint-Malo was famous for being the home of the French corsairs, who would raid ships of countries at war with France (kind of like legal pirating). Today, it’s famous for being overrun by tourists, who come to walk along its intact city walls. Unfortunately, the city itself was almost completely destroyed by American bombing and British shelling during WWII, and as a result, a lot of the old architecture inside the city walls has been lost, leaving plain, uniform buildings in their place.
We happened to arrive at relatively low tide, which meant that we could take a walk to the tidal island of Grand Bé, which is small and uninhabited, but gives a beautiful view of Saint Malo on one side and of Petit Bé on the other side. Unfortunately, the tide was a little too high for us to continue onto Petit Bé, another tidal island with an ancient 17th century fortress.
After our exploration of the town, we had dinner at Le Corps de Garde, a crêperie located right on the city walls. Thankfully, we made a reservation so we were able to get a table, where we could watch the sunset as we ate dinner. Although it wasn’t the best crêpes I had in Brittany, it was worth it for the view.
P.S. Another restaurant that we tried and really liked in Saint-Malo is Fish et Chips (just in case you’re craving British food in France). Fresh fish (of course), excellent batter and yummy chips. The owner was super nice, too!
- Au Vieux Safran, 2 quai Gambetta, 35260 Cancale. Tel: +33 (0)126.96.36.199.42
- Fish et Chips, 1 rue des Orbites, 35400 Saint-Malo. Tel: +33 (0)188.8.131.52.58. https://www.facebook.com/Fishetchips
- Le Corps de Garde, 3 Montee Notre Dame, 35400 Saint-Malo. Tel: +33 (0)184.108.40.206.46. Reservations highly recommended for the best views.