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 stop
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. The town offers wild beaches and rugged coastal walks. I like that.
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. Maybe we can find a restaurant?
What is an Océarium?
The book says that they also have an Océarium. I do not know what that is. 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!
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.
I enjoy researching our region!!
I CAN do this!
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.
I know these words!!!!
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 peanuts with our kir.
What is cider?
I ordered cider. I saw everyone else order it 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. The others I LOVED. I was very hungry. We drank the cider and talked on and on. I was SO happy and proud.
For dessert I ordered sweet crêpes. Pommette, of course, had a pomme (apple) crêpe with lots of chantilly (whipped cream). Fraisette had a fraise (strawberry) crêpe with no whipped cream. I had a beurre, sucre and pomme (butter, sugar and apple) crêpe with lots and lots of chantilly.
We ate slowly and savored every bite. I reluctantly asked for the check. “L’addition s’il vous plait?” Fraisette and Pommette both smiled broadly. We left the crêperie. We kissed 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.
Please help me learn?
Fraisette and Pommette arrived. “I need help!” I shouted. “Please! 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. The microwave was EASY.
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. 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. 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.
What are crêpes ?
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.
Harder than I thought!
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.
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.
I know this taste!
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!
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?
As I continued, I realized IB was correct. It was HARD for me to buy food. 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.
Let’s get food?
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.
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.
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 peanuts. We chatted about the bus trip and how crowded Pornic was today. I felt so happy.
Learning about French food!
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. 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.
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.
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.
What is a bus?
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. I 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.
What is he saying?
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 patiently 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 overwhelmed. 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?
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. 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.
Let’s see Pornic together!
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. We sat on a bench and watched the tide come into the harbor. I was hungry!