What are they doing?
We drove past lots of parked campers on our way to the main road. We saw fields on both sides. People were stooped over taking something small out of the ground. I asked the bears what these people were doing. They explained to me that Noirmoutier was famous for “La Bonnette”. This was the most expensive potato in the world. Only 100 tons are harvested annually and they cost about $45 per pound. They are hand-harvested because of the way their tubers are attached. Their unique flavor is attributed to the soil being fertilized by seaweed. They taste earthy and salty. I want to taste them. I was assured that I would taste them before I returned home to the States.
What is salt?
Further on we passed these flat pieces of land where people seemed to be pushing long rakes. I found out that these were salt flats and that Noirmoutier was also famous for sea salt. Fleur de Sel was the most expensive kind of sea salt because it is hand-harvested by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large saltpans. Fleur de Sel is often slightly grey due to the sand collected in the process of harvesting the salt from the pans. On occasion it can have a slight pink tint. Many people prefer Guérande sea salt to Noirmoutier sea salt. Noirmoutier sea salt has less moisture and a lighter body. I hope we visit Guérande.
Too much sand and wind
We continued on through the four towns of Noirmoutier: Barbâtre, L’Épine, la Guérinière, and Noirmoutier-en-Île. Each one was different from the other. Noirmoutier-en-Île has the castle and the aquarium. The other three tpwns are places where people live or camp. There were beaches, restaurants, marinas and boats. I really like this island, except for all the sand I had all over me from the wind. We walked the beaches and we looked in the shops. Life is good.
Time to eat!
We returned to the bear bus and decided it was time to eat. I was hoping for the famous potatoes. It was early May and the bears explained to me that these potatoes were just beginning to be harvested. I would have some next week. They told me to be patient. They had packed a picnic. They were all excited about having a picnic on this nice secluded beach they all knew. I asked shyly, “What is a picnic?” They explained that a picnic is an outdoor meal in a beautiful peaceful setting. They had brought a blanket for us to sit on as well as food and wine. They explained that in France people drank wine in moderation with their meal. I was all excited to experience new adventures and eat and drink different things. We sat on the blanket and looked out at the water. Fraisette and Pommette removed all the food from the picnic basket.
My first French picnic
We ate bread, pâté, cheese and fruit. We also drank some red wine. Since I did not know what any of the food was, they explained patiently to me what each thing was. They told me to try a little of each to see if or what I liked. I liked it ALL. It was so new and different. They all laughed at how excited and heartily I ate. We sat there for a very long time. French people enjoy their meals and savor their food. We all talked but I did not have a lot to say since everything was so new to me