Saturday, 5 April 2008

Brittany Tales

If you're going to be ill while on the road, you might as well pick somewhere picturesque in which to do it. That was our reasoning as we checked into a hotel in the centre of the charming Brittany town of Dinan. We wanted en suite toilet facilities, wi-fi and a bit of space in which to slob out and convalesce to the extended edition of The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers.

But there was still the interesting mission of finding food. Self-catering, it quickly became clear, is by far the simplest way to ensure nutritious meals if you're a vegetarian in France. Basically, if it doesn't come with meat or fish, the French do not regard it as actual food. Luckily, Brittany is home to crepes and galettes (savoury buckwheat pancakes) and the latter have fromage and champignons as a filling option, so the first night saw us supping in one of the town's many creperies.

The next day was spent in warm sunshine wandering around Dinan's tour and ville vieux, a siesta and a leisurely postcard-writing session outside a bar, enjoying the local Breton cider (served for some baffling reason in tea-cups).

Our mission for meatless food resulted in a couple of "Je suis desolees..." as we explained our dietary needs to various regretful restaurateurs and we'd almost decided to cop out and get a pizza when we found another creperie, but one with tourists in mind that had a few fleshless options on the menu. Galettes again, then - vegetarian for me (served with various vegetable purees) and tartiflette sans lardons for Theo. Very tasty, even more so for the various failed attempts we'd made along the way.

On Saturday we said our goodbyes to Dinan and also to the tummy bug which had beset us for the last week as Theo finally managed a decent-sized breakfast, which didn't immediately head south. The laryngitis, which had afflicted me since the eve of our wedding, was at last disappearing and I could talk, albeit in a Mariella Frostrup sort of rasp.

We drove down to the Atlantic coast of Brittany as it was more or less on the way to Nantes, which was our next scheduled stop - and because Theo was keen to look at the various arrangements of prehistoric megaliths in the area. Essentially, lots of lumps of granite, rather grandly called "Les Alignements". Once we had satisfied ourselves that at least one of them was the actual menhir carried by Obelix in the Asterix books, we went to find a campsite.

Carnac and nearby Trinite-sur-Mer are places absolutely made for tourists. As well as those keen on checking out the rocks, it's a lovely stretch of coastline and extremely popular with sailors. Unfortunately, this being so early in the season, only one campsite was open and it was rated two-star. I'm not really au fait with the star ratings for campsites, but in this case it meant no loo seats, no toilet paper and water that made it to tepid at best.

But hell, we could hook-up Sheena to the electricity supply (we finally found the in-point thanks to an email to her previous owner), crack open another bottle of our wedding bubbly, take a romantic stroll along the beach and sleep for the best part of twelve hours undisturbed, except by fits of coughing. Yep, Theo's recovery from the tummy terror merely meant he could be fully assaulted in the sinuses, while I continued the relentless task of trying to liberate my lungs. As they say in France, "sante!"

Tomorrow, Nantes.

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