46°09'23.6"N 1°09'15.1"W La Rochelle ; 46°12'17.6"N 1°22'02.8"W Île de Ré ; 45°50'25.6"N 0°36'38.9"W Saintes
Our lovely friends Emma&Pete are getting married in France!
The celebrations are being held in Saintes, not far from Bordeaux, which is a beautiful region of France so we’re making a little road trip out of the journey.
Wednesday evening we boarded the car ferry from Jersey across to St Malo, France. Adam was refusing to acknowledge it was his birthday so we surprised him with a healthy picnic of his favourites for dinner, followed by some rather indulgent gooey gold cupcakes complete with birthday candle. He claimed he would dis-own us if we sung happy birthday so we went ahead and serenaded him to ensure he could feel the love!
The evening ferry arrives in St Malo, France around 9pm and it’s a 4 hour drive to the region we were headed, so we drove half way and slept at an Ibis motorway hotel, it had secure parking and a vending machine dispenses your room key so it doesn’t matter what gawd-awful time at night you show up. Some of us slept better than others… Emiko and Adams room lights apparently turned on by themselves at various intervals during the small hours of the morning.
We met for coffee and a croissant and were back on the road by 8am, first stop La Rochelle…
La Rochelle is an historic port town, we’ve been here before but this time Abi had a mission for us, find her ancestors bronze statue in the city. We scoured the squares as we wandered and sure enough found Mr Guiton standing proud, he was pushed up against some temporary scaffolding so we had to get pretty close to the big guy but we wanted to give him a pat on his limestone for all his efforts anyway.
We stopped for alfresco lunch down Rue St Jean du Perot, then we headed to the glaciers for a scoop or two, it would be rude not too! You have to hand it to the french the food is fantastic.
We headed off to the marina for an aperitif and found Kokot, with yummy cocktails and the best salted freshly cooked crisps. Then we strolled around the marina to O Parlour which Emiko had reserved for dinner, my steak tartare went down a treat along with copious amounts of local french wine and some fairly excellent company!
Come the next morning we did what every self-respecting tourist does in Île de Ré and hired bikes for the day. We went for Beach Bikes as they had electric bikes available and some of the crew wanted to cheat. It was here I made a fatal error, when asked if I wanted an electric bike I punted for a regular sweat-it-out traditional bike.
1) Some of the team had aided power, never split the team.
2) It was rubbish weather, cycling against the wind was such an effort.
3) We covered a lot of miles!
Our first stop was one of the popular oyster cabanes, so we headed west out of Saint Martin (via Magazine de la Republique which happens to be one of my favourite shops ) following one of the many bike paths that make Île de Ré so welcoming, through the vineyards and along the coast until we stopped for a shuck of the oysters and some Rose’.
The following is a photo I managed to take of the crew whilst riding my bike… closely followed by the photo I accidentally took 0.7 seconds later as I fell off my bike trying to be clever and taking photos whilst riding… that nice man in the background picked me up. Lucky I bounce!
We continued west to the village of La Couarde-sur-Mer where we had pint at the cafe in the square, it was past ‘lunch hour’ and not a lot was open, so we did an about turn east and took the bike paths cross country, said hello to the Poitou Donkey’s and onto the village of La Flotte where we settled into a restaurant around the marina for more Rose’, Beer, baked Camembert and Moules a la Mariner.
After we were sufficiently stuffed with cheese, seafood and wine - there is a theme in France - we jumped back on our wheels and pedalled back to Saint Martin where we rode through the quaint streets.
I know we don’t look polished but we are a pretty happy windswept bunch considering we’ve spent the entire day cycling in the rain!
The next day we awoke in the hotel Les Messageries in Saintes to a blue sky day to celebrate the union of Emma & Pete.
The wedding venue was a short coach ride from Saintes, a very pretty, relaxed chateau, Le Petit Moulin, for their beautiful day.
Oh stop my beating heart. Adore!
The celebrations continued throughout the next day with a pool party; ‘hair of the dog’ double measure Gin’s, jacuzzi, ping pong championships and a snooze on the sunbeds!
It has been a super star of a weekend and inevitably by Monday we were all starting to fade slightly, however our friends are nothing if not steadfast so we swung by Le Mont Saint Michel on our return journey to catch the ferry in St Malo.
Le Mont Saint Michel is an island and mainland commune sitting just off Normandy’s coastline. One of France's most recognisable landmarks Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, it’s visited by more than 3 million people each year and the ‘streets’ are slim so be prepared to just go with the flow of jostling tourists.
The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. The structural composition of the town showcases the feudal society that constructed it: on top, God, the abbey and monastery; below, the great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers.
The commune's position, on an island just a few hundred metres from land, made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as an incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants. The island remained unconquered during the Hundred years war; a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433. Louis XI recognised the reverse benefits of its natural defence and turned it into a prison!
These days it is home to the exceptionally fluffy, and very expensive, souffléed omelette, we talked Emiko into ordering it so we could all have a try!
We may weary but we still a cheerful bunch!
Cheers to an excellent french wedding weekend roadie!