Sunday, January 3, 2010

My really slack version of our final days in France including the highlights and lowlights

Cont'd from previous post - From Saint Emilion we visited Bordeaux for a day and then drove north to a little medieval town called Vitre where we stayed in a B&B in the middle of nowhere. From Vitre we drove to Saint Malo on the coast and then stayed at a nearby village called Saint Marcan. We visited Le Mont-Saint-Michel, an amazing fortified city built on a rock offshore. From there we continued along the coast toward Calais and stayed overnight at another small village called Etretat. From Etretat we headed to Calais where we caught the ferry back to the UK. From the time we arrived in Spain to our arrival in Calais, we drove approximately 2000km!! Now that you have an account of the last leg of our road trip journey through France, here are the highlights…..

· Our time with Agnes & Roland, our B&B hosts in Saint Emilion – we practiced our French with them, had lots of laughs, we were fed the most amazing croissants fresh from the bakery every morning, they shared their famous Cognac with us which blew our socks off and they were so kind to help us plan our road trip route to Calais to avoid paying motorway tolls.

· We had a tour of the underground Monolithic Church and Catacombs in Saint Emilion – amazing to see an ancient Church that had all been carved out of underground rock. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos. It was fascinating!

· Crème Brulee – OMG!!!! Amaaaaazing!!! My new favourite dessert! I ordered it from every menu that had it on the list!

· The beauty of Bordeaux – simply stunning. We had some great wine there too in a funky little wine bar. Surprisingly it was the only wine (other than the 200 Euro bottle) that we enjoyed in France! We discovered at that point, that maybe our palate was a bit biased toward Aussie wines. We saw a really good jazz band playing in the street and an ‘out of this world’ chocolate shop that had high heels, wine bottles and insects all made out of chocolate!! Tim was in his element when he found a Nissan dealer that contained his dream car. Needless to say, he posed for a few photos.

· Rocking up to a B&B in the middle of nowhere late at night and being met with such a nice host. We then toasted chestnuts on the fire and shared in some potent French spirit called calvados (made with distilled apple cider and 50% alcohol) that according to Tim, is good enough to clean your car engine with!

· French bakeries – no words can describe the delights that are contained inside these culinary heavens…..our personal favourite, Croissant Almandes.

· Le Mont-Saint-Michel. What an amazing place!! A fortified city built on a rock offshore with an absolutely stunning Abbey right on the peak. Apart from being a bit of a trek to get to the top, it was such a surreal experience. One that is a bit difficult to describe – if you’re in France, it should be near the top of your list as a place to visit.

And the low lights……

· The French obviously have a fettish for that gross cherry flavour! You know the one, the flavour that tortured you throughout your childhood every time your Mum fed you brondicon (red medicine) to get rid of a nasty cough! Well, we were fooled several times, by sweet things that looked amazing but were completely spoiled as soon as we took a bite and those childhood memories kept flooding back! Ahhh!

· The bloody road tolls – if you’re thinking of taking a road trip through Europe, you may want to consider factoring these into your budget. We’re talking up to 10 Euros just to travel for 50km down a motor way!

· The raw meat – it seemed that French chefs like to undercook their meat….despite only beingin France for a week, in that time we managed to have served raw chicken and two raw steaks that were literally still mooing on the plate!

· Remote France was a bit stressful at times – trying to find accommodation proved challenging and when we found somewhere to stay it was usually with people that could not speak a word of English. We also found that it was difficult to find food in these remote places and if you know me, you know that you don’t really want to be around me when I am extremely hungry! Not pretty!

· One night in a remote village called Saint Marcan, we finally found a hotel restaurant that was open and this certainly turned out to be an experience. First, it took us a while to decipher the menu with our culinary food reader and we discovered that we had the choice of fish, fish, fish, or pork. We managed to find a chicken dish, which I had, and Tim had crepes with ham and cheese. The meal also included an entrée and a dessert and for 15 Euros which each we thought this was ok (for Europe). To cut a long story short, the only way of describing the food that was served was it reminded us of hospital food. We were flabbergasted when our entrée came out which was a whole cut up tomato on a plate with tinned beetroot, grated carrot and lettuce. The description of this dish on the menu referred to seasonal vegetables….hmmmm. Basically your typical hospital salad plate! Then the mains – well mine was a cold quarter of chicken with hot mash pumpkin, ‘left over’ potato bake and some gerkins and pickled onions on the side. Tim’s crepe was oily and apparently tasted like he was eating breakfast! Our dessert was a crème caramel that neither of us could finish because it was so sickly and obviously not homemade. Of course the food was perfectly ok to eat, but we just could not believe that a ‘fancy’ restaurant would serve this type of food and charge 15 Euros a head!! We ended up having a good laugh over it though and were thankful that at least we got to eat that night because we had previously been skipping a few meals because of not being able to find food!

So there you have it….prob not as much detail as previous posts, but you get the gist. It was a bit sad, knowing that this would be a last bit of travelling for a little while….we were running out of money and were gearing ourselves to find work when we got back. We arrived back in the UK on Nov 23 and the next day we were straight into registering with local recruitment agencies.


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