August 18, 2012, Breakfast at Hotel Lechin; Picnic Lunch at Carnac
We got up at 6:40 a.m. and dressed and walked outside to watch the diurnal shift from night to day. Unfortunately, we were a little late, but saw a wonderful sun rise. Then we went in to take a shower and go to breakfast. I ate something I have never had before, chunky apple sauce in a small plastic container. Unfortunately, I ate a croissant that was so buttery that it gave me indigestion. We then drove to Guerande for its Saturday market. The medieval city of Guerande was delightful, walled with ramparts and gates and full of people enjoying the market day. We had everything we needed for lunch, so we just bought bread, but then we saw some plastic coated cloth with lovely pink and red flowers printed on it. We bought 10 meters of it so we can run it the length of five six foot tables along the length of the banquette in the new garden area. We then walked down another arm of the market toward another gate of the Medieval City of Guerandé and saw a fruite de mer restaurant named Au Gre des Marees that had a fresh wooden carton of oysters sitting on the counter. Even though it was 10:30 a.m. we decided to eat a dozen oysters and a glass of wine. Wi the assistance of the waiter, we selected two different oysters from two different bays along the Breton coast just north of Guerandé. One was buttery in flavor with a shell that was not as concave as the other. Also the more concave was colder, so you would get a larger amount of cold salt water, which was a real eye opener.
On our way back to the car, we stopped at the Tourist information Office and inquired about salt production in the area. Apparently Guerandé is and has been a center for production of sea salt for a very long time. We decided to drive through the salt lagoons on our way back to Batz sur Mer , but for the moment we had to push on the Carnac.
Let me say how wonderful the Tourist information office system is in France. Every town of any size has at least one and they are positioned strategically at main squares and always have bathrooms and most speak English and they can direct you to any place in their area. There is another tip that travelers to the beaches in France should know and that is that rentals begin and end on Saturday around 11:00 a.m., so driving to a beach resort, such as Carnac or Belle isle on a Saturday morning can be a daunting experience. After a two hour drive through some terribly congested traffic we arrived at the peninsula on which Carnac is located and made our way to the town of Carnac and then to the megaliths. There are over 3000 megaliths and several barrows (dolmen in Celtic) at Carnac which makes it the largest Neolithic monumental site in the world. The arrangement of the stones is pretty straightforward. They are arranged in rows from smaller to larger as the alignments ascend small hills until they reach the top of the hill or terminus where there is typically an enclosure of megaliths.
There were seven or eight rows of stones running about two miles with several larger stones arranged in an alter grouping like at Stonehenge and several barrows or dolmen or burial mounds beside the center of the stone rows, so this is far from a random monument. What is not known at this time is why was this arrangement of stones created at this place 6000 years ago. There are several theories, but I like Suzette’s theory the best. Suzette thinks the array celebrated the club of persons who had eaten three thousand oysters each. I guess you can call it the Clan of the Happy Oyster Eaters
After we walked two alignments and around a cairn we ate lunch in the woods beside the largest Alignment de Kermanario beside some German tourists who kindly gave us knives and forks, napkins and plates. We ate our chevre coated with herbs, a wonder soft cow cheese and Ousseo Irkvoy? (a Basque cheese). ham and melon slices, wild boar railletes, duck pate, salami, on fresh baguette with a wonderful pasta salad we made with melon, cherry tomatoes pasta, ham and pickled beets.
After lunch we drove back to Guerandé and diverted around it to Pretal and the Terre de Sal, which is a cooperative that controls much of the sea salt production in the area. We stopped at the Salt Museum and Suzette bought 5 kg of fin salt, which is finer than gros but is still made from the grey salt that is harvested from the boom of the salt ponds and not as fine or white as the fleur that is skimmed off the top of the water. We stopped and talked to some salt guys who had a a salt flat that they were harvesting salt from. It was like hippies in California growing pot but, in France and in the salt flats.
The flats are lined with clay on the bottom, and they let salt water in and the sun and wind drive the water off and at the end of the day around 5:00 p.m. the salt guys come out for two or three hours and harvest the salt. They sell to the cooperative, unless they have a relationship with some restaurants.
After the salt flats we went into Baule, which turned out to be a beach scene with hundreds of thousands of people on a ten mile beach. We did not like the beach scene although we sat at a small restaurant/bistro/bar on the beach and I had a cidré de Bretagne and Suzette stayed with Stella Artois and walked the beach and found a few gastropods.
We were not hungry at the end of the day so we did not eat dinner and went to bed around 11:00 p.m.Bon Appetit