1st August 2007
After a repeat of the previous days breakfast, we headed south towards Josselin. We parked directly below the castle. What a magnificent Chateau it was. High up on a rock face overlooking a canal with three huge towers (facing us anyway!). We wandered up the hill to get a closer look but discovered that Josselin had a sleazy underside... an English bookshop. Ugh! An English bookshop is always a sign of too many British tourists visiting a place. The town itself was attractive and we had an alright lunch in a touristy place but we made the mistake of going on a tour of the Chateau. The tour was in English and we were surrounded by British tourists and thus had to put up with screaming kids and babies whose parents were too selfishly obsessed with enjoying their own holiday to bother keeping them in check (or worry about the fact this tour might bore the kids to death).
The tour was conducted by a French girl whose limited English made the tour fairly dull. She wasn't helped by the fact that the Chateau was itself incredibly dull and the tour consisted mainly of explaining how old the carpets were and who bought them rather than telling the amazing history of the place (sieges, a brutal attack by the English). The most exciting part was when she mentioned that rich people had been forced into one of the towers during the Revolution... before promptly moving on to what the initials carved under one of the windows stood for and completely fairly to tell us anything about such an exciting and historically important moment in the castles history.
We took a "scenic" route home (i.e. my navigational skills let us down a tad... ;) ). Had a lasagne cooked by Jim in the gite for dinner.
2nd August 2007
We had a lazy day. What else are holidays for??
3rd August 2007
We headed west to Dinan. What a gorgeous town! We wandered around the streets, Jim impressed me both with an amazing parking feat and by asking for insect bite cream (for Ian) in a pharmacy in perfect French. We had lunch in the Cafe L'Armor. I don't think I can express how much I loved the Pizza Americaine that I had. I believe if you had to make me choose between eating that pizza or Charles Dera I would have a difficult time making up my mind!
We followed up the pizzas with some delicious ice creams.
Headed home via a Champion hypermarche and had a Breton delicacy "Soupe de Poisson". Fish soup. Twas DISGUSTING. Yuck.
4th August 2007
Jim wanted to go to a French market so we headed west to the delightful little town of St Brieuc, which had some very delightful market boys. Mmm... bought some cider and some paella for dinner.
As we left town Jim foolishly asked if anyone wanted to do something and I made my much planned move... I wanted to see some polar bears and the Rough Guide said some could be found in Oceanopolis in Brest (a fair old journey away). Randomly... Jim agreed. So off we drove and after a few navigational errors (and a few hours of driving) we made it to Brest town centre... to be confronted by two signs for Oceanopolis. One heading west and one heading east. MOST CONFUSING. Using logic we worked out we needed to head east and soon found ourselves parked up by the huge modern building.
We went inside and marvelled at the aquarium exhibits (Dear Constant Readers will notice I tend to visit aquariums a lot...). The temperate zone had seals, small sharks and very inquisitive evil looking fish (video to follow some time!). The tropical zone had probably the biggest aquarium I've seen (and the one in Bangkok was fairly massive!) filled with allsorts of fish, and sharks! HUGE SHARKS. And a massive sawfish. And a turtle. And rays. And I loved every second of it. Ian seemed more impressed with an exhibit where you can play with remote controlled boats.
We had lunch in the brasserie on site. Amazingly good. I had a salad for starters, a well done faux filet.... very good, especially considering it was part of a tourist exhibit!
Then finally, with much fanfare, we arrived in the polar zone. We walked in. We watched the penguins play, we saw seals frolic and we searched high and low for polar bears. There weren't any. There used to be but not any more (the Rough Guide was only printed a month before the last presidential election so it's only about 3 months old!!). Sob. Much fun was made of Jason by Jim and Ian. :(.
But it was an amazing place... really great.
Went back to Moncontour, Ian and Jim spent the evening swatting flies. Fun. ;) I'd finished all my books by this point and took to desperately reading promotional leaflets that had been left in the gite.
5th August 2007
Our final day in France. Despite my Eurotunnel training, which indoctrinated me into understanding the entire country of France closes for Sunday, we headed out in a desperate search for an open hypermarche so Jim could get an escargotière (for making escargot). Did we find one? Non. Did we travel all the way to Rennes, the Breton capital, in search of one? Oui. Did we go home and watch Buffy afterwards? Oh yes...
For dinner we headed back to the Hotel De Ville area in hilly old Moncontour. Everything was bloody open! Even the patisserie... on a Sunday evening. The opening hours in France are confusing... We choose to eat in a restaurant called The Frog and Rose-Bofe. Any Brit or French person reading this should know what that means!
We started to ask questions in French of the lady we found inside, who promptly said "I speak English as well" in a home counties accent. She was the chef and talked us through her menu.
I had goats cheese toast salad to start and duck with orange and ginger sauce for main. Both were absolutely amazing, and if any of you go to Brittany I demand that you visit the beautiful village of Moncontour and visit The Frog and Rose-Bofe in the village centre.
We returned to the gite, very full and did the cleaning. Ah the fun of a holiday home.
6th August 2007
It was time to go home. We set off early in the morning, sad but pleased to know that if we ever did go back there was a hell of a lot of stuff still to be seen. The drive back was uneventful (except I tried sango Diet Coke, which is diet Coke with orange, at a service station. Nil point).
We stopped off at Cite Europe. Found an escargotiere. YAY! Sadly also came back into contact with British people en masse again (Cite Europe shopping centre is the main stop off point for British day trippers). :( I love Britain. I just hate the English, rude and disgusting the lot of them.
We then headed to Dunkerque, got put on an earlier ferry without paying extra, smuggled Ian back into the country like the criminals we are, and put up with the English bad parents all the way home. Dropped some beer from Cite Europe off with my family and then drove to Greenwich via horribly congested, badly managed roads.
7th August 2007
Home... but still off work! Woo... spent day in the cinema with Jim and Ian. Saw Harry Potter and the Never Ending Franchise Part 5. I really am not a fan of the Harry Potter stuff but it was alright. The actors are all grown up now and I can start to see certain qualities in the movies lacking from the first few... totty.
We took a break for dinner at Noodle Time (changed hands, now rubbish, shall never return) and then headed back to see Transformers. You know I loved the movie, I've seen it before. But Jim and Ian also loved it with Jim remarking: "This is the best movie. Ever."