17. Last legs! Charente Maritime to Christchurch, England!
Updated: Mar 5
Another day catching up with Jenny and Tim (I wish they would stop running off!), and visiting the lovely and historic town of Saintes (rhymes with pant!). Roman and gothic relics abound and the newly pedestrianised centre makes it a super place to Bimble away a morning. The formal planting was quite impressive too!
Rain was forecast for the rest of the afternoon so we headed back to the house and had a good session of cards and nattering.
Saturday September 19th
My birthday! A nice breakfast and a lovely gift of a picture frame from Jenny and Tim, before our sad departure 😔. Thank you to Jenny, Tim, Mimi and Monti for a super stay, but Mimi…. you need to improve your hide and seek technique before our next visit!
We headed north via the outskirts of Rochefort and La Rochelle. This is an excellent way to avoid motorway tolls!
We used to own a cottage in the Vendee and as we drove by we resisted the pull to go and see the village …We had a more important mission!
When we had the cottage we also had a favourite vineyard.. Chateau de Rosnay. We wanted to get there before it shut for lunch!
We made it in time, and soon 2 boxes of our favourite white wine – Tendresse – were installed in Boris. Time to head north again, picking up the autoroute just south of Nantes from where it is free all the way to Rennes and Caen.
It was a good drive. We stopped to picnic on the Nantes – Brest canal, but that was our only pause before arriving at Carrefour at Ouistreham to stock up with cheese and other ‘essentials’.
However we were not heading straight for the ferry. By using the ferry at 8.30am next morning we saved £140, and having the camper we could sleep in an aire free of charge so didn’t need to pay for a hotel room. So we crossed the river at the site of Pegasus bridge and went a few miles east to Cabourg, where we enjoyed a bracing walk along the promenade and the dunes before returning to Boris to get changed.
I had booked a restaurant for dinner using their Internet booking site. Au pied des Marais had super reviews and we were very excited. When we arrived it was a bit of a shock when they said they had not received the booking and were full. My face fell and they took pity on us and found us a table. Wow am I glad they did. The food was exquisite and very unusual. Presentation was excellent and the service was so courteous and helpful. The owner / head chef was charming – he takes all the orders and serves the main courses , and is often clearing tables and serving drinks and chatting to his guests. There was a roaring fire which some of the dishes were cooked upon.
For our foodie fans, here are some photos of our choices. Nibbles were followed by 2 amuse bouche – a veloute of carrot, pleurotte and broccoli and a broccoli, and chorizo mix with tomato cream on top.
Starters – Chris had Oysters while I had a tower of Lisette (tiny fish) with vegetables and asparagus topping in a gazpacho coulis.
Entrée – we both had Skate in a tower with vegetables, spinach puree and a sensational apple cream sauce.
Finally, the dessert and to my astonishment mine arrived with a candle and Birthday greetings piped around the edge, and served by the owner..who offered to sing but said he didn’t recommend it!
Finally coffee with home made bonbons!
Sublime. And the price of that whole menu was 36 euros.. about £27.50.
What a treat. Thank you again Chris as this was the second half of my birthday present!
Finally, we left at 11pm, and went from the sublime to the ridiculous. We drove back to the port at Ouistreham and Boris crept in to the aire next to the docks, where about 40 other campers were already hunkered down for the night. We found a spot and snuggled down for our last night in Boris for this holiday. We set the alarm for 6.45 and both slept like logs!
Sunday September 20th
The alarm worked and we were soon queueing at the ferry terminal. It was a foggy start but it soon lifted and we had a flat calm crossing, arriving into Portsmouth by lunchtime. Best of all, we spotted a gannet and an arctic tern which took our bird total from a frustrating 149 to a brilliant 151 for the holiday!
Then home, and after some unpacking etc. Jen arrived home and cooked us a delightful birthday dinner.