Tide Up in Saint-Malo

Plougasnou
Plougasnou

We must truly be getting into holiday mode at last. We keep a written journal of our travels as well as this blog, something we can dip into now and again in years to come just to say “This time last year we were…” But somewhere along the way in the journal I realised I had lost a day. I checked everywhere, down the back of Vince’s sofa and everything but there was no sign of it at all.

I was absolutely convinced it was Thursday but Gill was equally convinced it was Friday! We had to put the TV on to settle it and rather predictably I was wrong. I have a great excuse though, and that excuse is St Brieuc. We left our lovely jetty in Plougasnou as we were getting low on water and decided to head to a campsite in St Brieuc as it was half way between where we were, and Saint-Malo where we wanted to get to. We looked up St Brieuc in our Rough Guide to France but it didn’t get a mention. When we arrived we realised why. No offence to its residents, but as a tourist destination it didn’t have a lot going for it. We found busy congested streets, lots of commercial buildings and some pretty run-down areas just on the way to the campsite. Perhaps I’m not being fair, as the site itself was a haven of tranquility in a tree-lined valley in the heart of the city – it just made us want to stay there without venturing out too far.

Manly BBQ'ing in a very camp way
Manly BBQ’ing but in a very camp way

We used the down-time to catch up with a load of washing, we gave Vince a spruce up inside and removed a couple of weeks’ grime and dead insects from his bodywork. He’s looking much more handsome as a result. We had a little walk & cycle in the area around the site; there were pretty wooded tracks all around but they tended to fizzle out in dead-ends or car parks in the city so we stuck to reading, eating and drinking most of the stay (hence me losing track of the days). For the first time this trip we fired up the BBQ as it was hot and sunny – nothing too fancy yet in the way of recipes; it was burgers and sausages one night, and salmon the next but as we get used to the Safari Chef we’ll get a bit more adventurous!

We were parked up next to a couple in a British caravan who seemed pleasant enough, but we noticed as they pulled away that they’d been allowing their waste water to drain on to their pitch rather than dumping it in the correct drain – a five-minute job. I do hate when Brits let the side down like that. The next users of that pitch will have smelly bits of food waste lying around to contend with. Not nice.

We were glad to move on yesterday; it’s always nice to fire up Vince’s engine and get on the road again. This time we were heading for Saint-Malo, about two hours east of St Brieuc. Firstly however we had to get the dreaded ‘big shop’ out of the way. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than go shopping but it’s not fair to lumber Gill with doing it all the time so we parked up at an E Leclerc and bit the bullet. French supermarkets are actually quite fun if you’re not in a hurry – the large ones stock all sorts of things from spark-plugs to spaghetti. If the shopping were left to me alone that’s probably what I’d bring home!

"After a long hot drive to Saint-Malo in the MoHo I said to Mrs Ken, when we get there there's a beer with my name on it waiting for me. And - well blow me down..."
“After a long hot drive to Saint-Malo in the MoHo I said to Mrs Ken, when we get there there’s a beer with my name on it waiting for me. And – well blow me down…”

When we’re not travelling we do most of our shopping online, easy, or we head to the local ASDA where we know how to find anything. The trouble with shopping on the road is that each store is laid out differently so you can’t find what you need, and of course we don’t have a lot of space so it has to be done more frequently. Great. The one thing which made this shopping trip worthwhile was the photo-opportunity given by a stack of beer cartons. My FaceBook post to the Motorhome Madness group attracted over 100 ‘Likes’ 🙂

Arriving finally in Saint-Malo was a little traumatic. The aire we were going to simply wasn’t there any more. We found ourselves in a dockyard area with Mr Garmin telling us to turn right into ever tinier streets. Not bloomin’ likely. We found a slightly wider street where we could stop to look at the maps & guides and instantly, seeing a parking opportunity, another Motorhome pulled in two inches from our rear bumper and a surly French car owner pulled in three inches from our front! As I may have mentioned – Vince is a big fella so when we started to pull forward to go, the French driver decided that size mattered and he pulled back a bit to let us out…

Our usual way of finding accommodation is by using a combination of our All the Aires book, the ASCI Campsites Guide and searchforsites.co.uk. In this instance none of them were much help but Gill found us a campsite on a hill just outside the city walls. It’s a little pricier than an aire but gives us an electricity hook-up and showers so we can’t complain given the proximity to the Citadel – the old walled city. I’m usually very laid-back when it comes to threading Vince through narrow streets or heavy traffic, but after contending with both at once I had to have a lie down once we were pitched up!

We strolled along the seafront in the evening to the Citadel, even as the sun was setting there were families still enjoying the beach, and sat in the square outside the Café Chateaubriand. There was live music from a Breton group echoing round the ancient walls so what better than an aperitif and a sit-back in the evening light soaking up the atmosphere? After finishing our drinks we climbed the ramparts to see the second-highest of the Spring Tides surging against the city walls. The highest Spring Tide will be this evening around 8.40pm. There wasn’t much to remark on other than the round of applause an adventurous photographer gained when he unexpectedly went paddling as the swell broke into the street below. We’re hoping rather uncharitably for a bit more of a breeze tonight so we can see the waves crashing into the sea wall.

The hunger pangs soon set in however, so we turned from the sea and set off down the tiny streets to find a meal. We expected inflated tourist prices but were pleasantly surprised – maybe they wait until the holiday season kicks in! We had set menu seafood – more mussels – with a starter and dessert for €17 each. A 50cl pitcher of cider was only €5.80 on top but note to self…order cidre brut next time as the cidre doux was really too sweet for our taste.

I have to close now as we’re both feeling a little seasick. We’re on dry land but Vince is at a strange angle on his pitch. Walking from the back to the front of the van involves going uphill and a little to one side. It was most disconcerting last night with the blinds shut as he looks level but your balance is all over the place! I’m going to shuffle him round a bit to see if we can get him back on an even keel. Chat later 🙂

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