Category Archives: Brellie

Le Croisic

Time to learn about our region!

I awoke very early the next morning and had some tea and buttered bread as I continued to research our trip. I have several days to plan this.

Le Croisic our first stophappy

Let us learn about Le Croisic!  Le Croisic is best known for its fishing industry but this attractive port was also one of the first tourist resorts in Brittany.surprise The town offers wild beaches and rugged coastal walks. I like that.big grin

The harbor brought the town to prominence in the 16th century. The salt from the nearby salt marshes was exported to Northern Europe. Wood, iron and coal were brought from Northern Europe to the harbor. This commerce and fishing made Le Croisic wealthy. However, its fortunes declined in the 18th century before rising again in the 19th century with the advent of tourism, railways and sardine canneries.

What about today?

Today Le Croisic has an active fishing industry with around 100 fishermen and 33 boats.  This part of the coast also has significant shellfish production – Le Croisic is France’s main center for cockle farming. The tourist office has developed the Route des Coquillages (shellfish trail) along which you can visit producers, take guided tours, and view the beds.

I want to explore the shellfish trail.big grin Maybe we can find a restaurant?

What is an Océarium?confused

The book says that they also have an Océarium. I do not know what that is.confused  I need to research this further.

The Océarium Croisic is close to the harbor entrance of Croisic and 400 meters from the sea. It is one of the largest private aquariums in France.  An area of 1,700 m 2 , it has more than 4,000 animals which are divided into the 50 aquariums. They have a lecture room and audio visual theater, sharks from Australia, penguins, a touch pool and an ocean tunnel. The ocean tunnel is an underwater wall that gives you a fish-eye view of over 250 specimens.There is also a shark tank and daily penguin feeding sessions.

Fraisette, Pommette and the Big Brown Bear will enjoy this!big grin

This sounds very interesting and educational for the four of us. I hope we have enough time to see everything. Maybe we will need two trips to this area?  I hope the Big Brown Bear will agree to drive us there again.worried

I enjoy researching our region!!big grin

Where do I want to explore first!

Where are the maps?confused

I arrived home and sat in my chair by the door. I need to plan the rest of my vacation. I found one of my Momy’s Michelin maps of the region. I studied it. thinking I want to see the Brittany Cote Sauvage. I would start at Le Croisic and drive down the coast to La Baule.happy

I need the Big Brown Bear to drive us. I called her on my bear phone.on the phone  She agreed that all four of us should explore the region. I proudlybig grin called Fraisette and Pommette.on the phone They agreed to come with me.

I need to plan our tripthinking

I promised the Big Brown Bear, Fraisette and Pommette that I would research the region before we explored it.

After looking at the map I decided to go to Le Croisic by the highway that everyone calls the Route Bleu and cross the St. Nazaire bridge. The Saint-Nazaire Bridge ( Le pont de Saint-Nazaire) is a bridge spanning the Loire river and linking Saint-Nazaire on the north bank and Saint Brevin- les-Pins on the south bank, in the department of the Loire Atlantique.

I was excited.big grin Fraisette and Pommette live in Saint Brevin-les-Pins. I did not see the bridge when I visited them. Now I will get to cross this big bridge. What an adventure.happy

We will continue inland to Le Croisic and return by way of the Cote Sauvage. We will see Batz–sur-Mer, Le Pouligen and La Baule.

I need to plan lunch. A picnicthinking ? A restaurant?thinking

Crêperie

 I CAN do this!confused

I did not sleep well. I was both excited and scared about our lunch. I ate breakfast and dressed slowly. I left the house. I walked slowly by way of the sea to the crêperie. It was next to our small supermarket. Fraisette and Pommette were not yet at the crêperie. I tried to wait patiently for them. I was very anxious. They finally arrived. We sat down at our reserved table in the window. I felt special and more confident.happy

 I know these words!!!!happy 

I slowly read the menu. I had studied the tri-fold brochure of the French food words from my website. I recognized many of the words. We started with a kir breton. A kir breton  is an apéritif made with cider and cassis rather than white wine and cassis in a traditional kir. We had peanutshappy  with our kir.

What is cider? 

I ordered cider. I saw everyone else order it smug  French cidre is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. ‘Demi-Sec’ is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 4.5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Many ciders are sold in corked bottles, but some screw-top bottles exist. In crêperies in Brittany, cider is generally served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses.

What is in galettes?

I selected two galettes for each of us to enjoy. I ordered six different ones so that we could all experience different tastes. I told the waiter that we were going to start with galettes. I ordered a jambon and fromage (ham and cheese) and an oeuf and champignons (egg and mushrooms) galette for Fraisette. For Pommette, I selected a jambon and oeuf and (ham and egg) and an andouille galette. Andouille is a smoked sausage made using pork. For myself I decided on a fromage, oeuf and champignons (cheese, egg and mushrooms) and a pomme de terre, oeuf and oignons (potato, egg, and onions). They arrived. We all tasted each others’ galettes. I did not like the andouille sausage at all.sad  The others I LOVED.happy I was very hungry. We drank the cider and talked on and on. I was SO happy and proud.big grin

Dessert crêpes!

For dessert I ordered sweet crêpes. Pommette, of course, had a pomme (apple) crêpewinking with lots of chantilly (whipped cream). Fraisette had a fraise (strawberry) crêpe winking with no whipped cream. I had a beurre, sucre and pomme (butter, sugar and apple) crêpe with lots and lots of chantilly.big grin

We ate slowly and savored every bite. I reluctantly asked for the check.sad “L’addition s’il vous plait?” Fraisette and Pommette both smiled broadly.big grin  We left the crêperie. We kissedkiss goodbye and said we would speak tomorrow.

I walked slowly home by way of the beach. I sat for a while on a bench and thought about my new- found confidence and experiences. I was happy. big grin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crêpes and Galettes

Please help me learn?

Fraisette and Pommette arrived.  “I need help!” I shouted.  “Please!blushing  I do not know how to use the stove or microwave.” They patiently explained both.

I was surprised that there was a bottle of gas under the stove. They showed me how to turn it on and off. Then I learned how to light the stove.  It was not easy.surprise  The microwave was EASY.happy

A very simple lunch!

I prepared all the food. We started with bread and pâté . I then cooked pork nems on top of the stove. I prepared the pizza in the microwave. The pizza was topped with goat cheese, tomatoes and chorizo. We ended the meal with cheese.

I was proud. big grin We enjoyed the food.  It was not a gourmet meal but  I LOVED having company. We ALL realized that I was not ready for adventures alone.sad  I need help.  Getting food is a challenge. We decided to meet tomorrow at the local crêperie.   I would order the meal for ALL of us.  I was proud that they would allow me this honor.happy

What are crêpes ?confused

Fraisette and Pommette explained that crêpes are popular throughout France. All crêpes include flour, eggs, milk, butter, and a pinch of salt. Crêpes are usually of two types: sweet crêpes (crêpes sucrées) made with wheat flour and slightly sweetened; and savory galettes (crêpes salées) are made with buckwheat flour and unsweetened. Fraisette and Pommette are so worldly.

Our regional favorite!

Then they explained that in our region galettes are very popular. The name “galette” came from the French word galet (“pebble”), since the first galettes were made on a large pebble heated in a fire. Batter made from buckwheat flour is gluten-free, which makes it possible for people who have a gluten allergy or intolerance to eat this type of crêpe.

Galette, or more properly, Breton galette, is also the name given in most French crêperies to savory buckwheat flour pancakes.  Those made from wheat flour, much smaller in size, and mostly served with a sweet filling, are branded crêpes. Galette is a type of large, thin pancake mostly associated with the region of Brittany.  Buckwheat was introduced as a crop suitable to impoverished soils.

 

 

 

Learning to Shop!!!

Harder than I thought!surprisesurprise

The bread was hot and smelled wonderful so I purchased two loaves.  I selected pâté and cheese. I did not buy wine. There were too many different types of wine. Was this enough food?  I decided to bravely continue shopping. At the meat counter, I realized that I did not know how to use the stove! “A lesson for another time”, I told myself.winking

I am still hungry!

I found the prepared food! I did not like it. I decided to buy food that I could microwave. I had seen this done and I was confident I could do this.smug

 I know this taste!big grin

I purchased pizza from the refrigeration section. It had goat cheese, tomatoes and chorizo on it.  I had goat cheese with the bears and liked it.

 A new taste!worried

Everyone purchased nems. I thought ” What are nems?”  Nems are Vietnamese spring rolls. I purchased the package  that had pork in them. I hope I like them?thinking

 Learning!

As I continued, I realized IB was correct. It was HARD for me to buy food.sad  I need help. I called Fraisette and Pommette on the bear phone. They would meet me at my house. I paid for all the food and walked home.

 

 

I CAN get food!

Let’s get food?worried

I sat by my door a very long time pondering my problem. IB was right. I DID NOT know how to buy food! Anywhere!  I did have euros. I decided to walk into town and visit our small supermarket. I went by way of the street since it was faster. I entered our supermarket. “Oh MY”, I said out loud. I did not understand most of the words on the food packages.confused

IB!!!!

I immediately called IB. “HELP” I said. She calmly told me to go to my web site and download the French/English food translation. I did. Armed with this pamphlet, I continued to shop. Then I realized that the weights were in different measurements. I went back to my web site. The French use grams, kilos, and liters. After reading what all this meant, I was prepared to shop.

I need a shopping cart. Everyone put a coin into the top lock of the shopping cart. They then pulled a cart out of the lock. I did the same. I was ready to shop.

 

 

 

 

Can I arrive home alone?

Exploring Pornic!happy

We walked along the quay and looked out at the water and boats. When we went to lunch the tide was going out and all the boats were stuck in mud. After lunch, the boats were floating in water. We continued along the quay and walked directly in front of the Pornic castle and down to a small beach. It was so quiet and peaceful. We decided to explore the higher part of the town. We walked up a steep hill to the market. The big market is held every Sunday.  It was Monday and it was very quiet. I like Pornic but found it odd that people lived above the stores and down very small alleys. happyThere was no place to park. It seemed very inconvenient.

I found Momy’s favorite shop?happy

Down a very long street filled with restaurants and shops we found my Momy’s favorite store in Pornic, “Ambiance & Styles”. Fraisette, Pommette, and the Big Brown Bear told me that my Momy always purchased special bottle bags from there to take home as presents. I had seen them. They were very colorful.

Time to go home? happy

We arrived at the bottom of the hill.  I saw the train station. It was time for me to start my next adventure. I was scared blushingbut excited to try something new. We walked to the train platform. The train arrived. We said our good byes and I confidently boarded the train.  The conductor asked for my ticket as soon as the train left the station. I was getting off at the first stop. I handed him my ticket and said “Merci” as he returned it to me with a hole in it. The ride was very short and I exited the train. My walk was about 20 minutes but I  was floating on air so it seemed much shorter. I entered the house and took a nap.sleepy I was so tired from my new adventures

IB give me advice!

I awoke rested with new found curiosity. I called IB on MY bear phone. I asked “IB where else should I explore?” She patiently asked me several questions. IB asked me how comfortable I was with traveling alone in France. How far do I want to travel? I proudly explained that I had been on the bus and the train.happy  Had I bought food by myself? “No.” I answered.blushing  We agreed that first I needed to try to buy food by myself. IB wished me good luck and I hung up the bear phone.

I returned to my seat by the door and pondered my new adventure.thinking

My first restaurant meal!

We HAVE reservations!

Fraisette and Pommette said that we had reservations at the local pizzeria “Le Vesuvio”. We were going to meet the Big Brown Bear there at 12 o’clock. We walked the town. I was so overwhelmed by all the people and new things I saw. There were so many shops and different restaurants. People were eating and pushing to get by. It was crowded. We finally arrived at our restaurant, which was down a small alley. We ate inside the restaurant.

My first French menu!

The Big Brown Bear had just arrived and was waiting for us. After our four kisses we sat down and studied the menu. I had learned a few French words from my travels so I knew some of the items on the menu, but I was still confused. They patiently explained what a set menu was. In this case it was three courses. I could pick one appetizer, one main course and a dessert. I wanted pizza. They ordered four different appetizers (one for each of us) so that I could learn in French what they were for my future adventures. Then they ordered the main course. They ordered spaghetti and lasagna. We would order dessert later. We had an aperitif and it came with peanuts. I LOVE big grin peanuts. We chatted about the bus trip and how crowded Pornic was today. I felt so happy.happy

 Learning about French food!thinking

The appetizers arrived. Pommette had the charcuterie plate. It had several different cold meats on it with lettuce and pickles. Fraisette had a salad with lettuce, tuna and boiled eggs. The Big Brown Bear ordered oysters. They were served raw and in their shell with pats of butter and a vinaigrette sauce. They ordered mussels for me. They came in a big bowl and had lots of tasty water around them. The mussels were in their shells. I started to pull out the mussels with my fingers and they all laughed. laughing They taught me the French way to eat them. You use one of the empty shells that is still whole as a pincher to pull out the mussels. They were good and I was very hungry. I tasted all their food and decided that I liked it all. They explained to me what everything was and how to order it in the future.

Our main course arrived. Fraisette and Pommette had lasagna and the Big Brown Bear had spaghetti. My pizza arrived. My eyes grew bigger and bigger. “That’s not pizza.” I said. It had very, very little tomato sauce.  It had ham, some kind of cheese and a raw egg yolk in the middle of it. I learned that French pizza is very different than American pizza.  They do not have pepperoni in France. I ate my pizza. I liked it.winking

 

Dessert!big grin

Dessert  followed this wonderful meal. I did not understand many of the choices so they patiently explained them to me. I decided to let them order the dessert and surprise me. They ordered four different ones.  The Big Brown Bear ordered sorbet. Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with fruit (typically juice or purée). It consisted of one scoop of raspberries and one scoop of cassis sorbet with LOTS of whipped cream and a cookie in a big bowl. Fraisette ordered chocolate mousse. Pommette, of course, had an apple tart. I had Île flottante. Île flottante is a French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard). The meringues are prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract and then quickly poached. The crème anglaise is prepared with the egg yolks, vanilla, and hot milk and is then briefly cooked. I LOVED it. big grin

We decided not to have coffee or tea but to walk more of Pornic.  In France, it is very traditional to walk after your meal. I was going to have Pornic adventures.

 

 

 

 

Where is Pornic?

What is a bus?confused

Fraisette and Pommette arrived on time. We walked about 4 blocks to the bus stop. The schedule was posted and our bus was due in 4 minutes. I was excited. happyI boarded the bus first. I stared at the bus driver as he spoke to me. Fraisette explained to me that he was asking where was I going and if I wanted a return ticket. I did not know what a return ticket was.confused

What is he saying?confused

They explained. I proudly said , “Pornic,” and no I did not want a return ticket. The bus driver told me the bus fare. I stared again at Fraisette. She said 2 euros. I paid. We all found seats. The bears patientlystraight face explained numbers to me. Un is one, deux is 2, trois is 3, quatre is 4, cinq is 5, six is 6, sept is 7, huit is 8, neuf is 9 and dix is 10.  I was overwhelmedthinking They decided to focus on teaching me how to say 1 through 5. We arrived in Pornic and we got off the bus at the train station.

Why are we at a train station?confused

We entered the train station. I was confused. They explained that I was going to go home by train.  Therefore, I needed to purchase my ticket before boarding the train because it was cheaper to do it this way. They showed me how to put euros into the machine and buy my ticket to go home. We purchased only one ticket. I was going to go home by train alone.big grin I was so proud that they trusted me to be able to return home alone. I know now why I did not need a return ticket on the bus. I was going home by train – alone.worried

Let’s see Pornic together!big grin

We left the train station and explored the town. The train station was next to the old port, which had working fishing boats. The fishing boats fascinated me. They had all types of machinery everywhere on the boats. Pommette explained that some were to put the fishing nets in and out of the water and others were to track where the boat was and where the boat wanted to go next. We continued walking and I saw a boat that was going to Noirmoutier. “I know where that is!” I said loudly.big grin We sat on a bench and watched the tide come into the harbor. I was hungry!

Surprise Fraisette and Pommette!

I have company!big grin

I arrived home to find Fraisette_Fraisette_ and Pommette_Pommette_ waiting for me. Their Mommy and Daddy were visiting upstairs and they came to play with me. I was so happy to see them.

Will you please have lunch with me?happy

Since I was very hungry I offered them food. They accepted and told me they would prepare a French meal. I had a big smile on my face.happy They looked through the refrigerator and discussed in French what they would make. They wanted to surprise me.

A real  French meal in MY home!happy

We began with a glass of sparkling wine with some flavored alcohol in it. This drink is called a kir. It was accompanied by nuts and flavored crackers. There were not enough of them for my hunger but I knew more dishes were coming. I had never had any wine before our picnic so I was excited to try new experiences.

Can you please explain the food to me?blushing

The next dish was rillettes. They explained that rillettes were similar to pâté and very typical of our region.  In our region, rillettes are usually made of pork and spread on bread or toast and served at room temperature. We had a white wine with the rillettes. I liked them. The rillettes were a little salty and fatty but they had lots of flavor. I was learning to be French!big grin We ate and drank slowly and discussed the taste of the food.  Since it was rainy and cold we had a nice bowl of vegetable soup with bread. We continued drinking our white wine. The wine was beginning to affect me and I became giggly. Next we we had some cold roasted chicken with potato chips and carrot rapé. We had another glass of white wine. I learned that French people often have cold leftover roasted chicken with potato chips. Carrot rapé is a staple in every home especially if they have young children. I would have preferred a hot dish but I was still hungry so I ate it, although not heartily.

Hope there is more food?confused

Next we had cheese. I like cheese and I was still hungry from all my adventures. There were several kinds of cheese. Some were soft and some were hard and they had mild to strong flavors. The cheese was accompanied by a glass of red wine. I was really enjoying myself but I decided I needed to ask some questions. I asked,How do I get a bear phone so that I can call you? How do I get euros?” We continued to discuss the cheese. After cheese we had dessert. Raspberries and chocolate accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine

My questions are finally answered!happy

Fraisette and Pommette slowly began to discuss my questions. Did I know how to use a bear phone? Sheepishly, blushingI said “no.”  They brought a bear phone with them for me to keep. I was excited and happy. They showed me how to use it. They had pre-programmed several numbers for me. Their phone number was included in the phone.They felt that getting euros would be too much of an adventure for me on my first trip to France. sadSo, they gave me some.

So when can we have more adventures?thinking

I felt prepared for greater adventures. We enjoyed our dessert and discussed what adventures I should embark upon next.

We decided to meet at my home the next day for my new adventure. We would all take the bus to Pornic.  Pornic is a town about 10 kilometers from me. We kissed goodbye. Four kisses of course.smug  We decided to meet at 10 o’clock the next day. I went for a short walk by the sea and returned home to sleep so that I would be well rested for my trip to Pornic.