France, Day 8: La Roche-Bernard

La Roche-Bernard is a small commune 30km due south of Rochefort en Terre, with about the same population. It’s said that the town has more boats than people; the rich leave their vessels in the port until they have a few weeks of vacation, and take off from here after arriving by car or train.

It was originally a viking colony, taken up as a fort because it controls access to the river that runs through it. The hills above are still pockmarked with stone walls and canons on the hills above.

La Vilaine

La Vilaine is the main river running through La Roche-Bernard, flowing out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Before leaving though, we loaded up on some traditional French food.

cooking-galette

Galettes, or more properly known as Breton Galettes (as they’re a very traditional food for the region), are like crêpes but made of buckwheat instead of flour. With only egg, cheese (typically emmentale), and a slice of ham, it’s as simple as it is delicious.

cooked galette

The packaged final product.

dry-cider

Served with the galettes is a cider that’s much drier than I’m used to, but this meant it balanced extremely well with both sweet and savoury.

apple caramel crepe

And for dessert a caramel apple crêpe, with semi-sweet chocolate chips and ice cream.

sacrifice

I was talking with Tanya about how much of a sacrifice it must be to have children (noting she had three of her own), and she said that if you truly love your kids, it never feels like a sacrifice. That is, until they want the last bite of your crêpe.

A walk through town

I imagine not much has changed in this town for hundreds of years; when you see how the stone houses have been built around the uneven pathways, it’s like you’re stepping into a time machine. And with so much greenery, it’s truly feels like you’ve settled into a little cradle of the earth, as it’s all around you, not flattened and cleared beneath you.

market place

This used to be the marketplace. The window ledges are particularly deep and low to the ground because people would open the windows and sell right out of their homes, resting their wares on the windowsills.

bench

 

auberge

 

bench

 

countryside

 

one way street

 

countryside 3

 

countryside 4

 

steps to marketplace

 

countryside

 

countryside

 

chorizo

Chorizo is an extremely spicy Spanish pork sausage. I love how everything here is so fresh that you can just buy a few slices off the counter.

boats on dock

 

raised boat

If you’re exceptionally rich, you can pay to have your boat hoisted with a crane and kept out of the water.

dock plugs

And if you want to live in your boat while it’s docked, the docks have plugs for electricity and taps for water.

dock restaurants

 

dock tie

 

fish signs

The artist’s door. I imagine in a small town like this, it would actually be accurate to call someone, “the artist”.

fountain

 

green path

 

old buildings

 

old dock

 

countryside

 

pathway up

If this was a big city, a tiny pathway like this leading “downtown” would be so shady.

quay sign

 

seafood market

The seafood is always fresh when you’re this close to the water.

shack

 

shoe pot

 

stone steps

 

walking dogs

 

wash basin

Before industrialization, the women of the town would come here to wash the laundry in the shallow pool.

well

 

Raclette

Dinner that night was raclette, which refers to both the cheese and way it’s served melted over various meats and potatoes. This is where I learned that meals for the French aren’t only about the food, they’re about getting together with friends and socializing too.

kir

Kir is a cocktail made from a bit of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and white wine, served as an aperitif. Crème de cassis itself is a traditional French alcohol, and typically about 15% alcohol by volume. It didn’t make me any more hungry, but I certainly had more fun just sitting in a chair by the fire.

raclette grill

The raclette grill. The top is used to keep the potatoes warm, while the bottom has heaters to melt slices of raclette. Traditionally, raclette was melted by keeping it by a fire.

assorted meats

 

calvados

Calvados is an apple brandy, also made in France, typically taken between courses as a palette cleanser. At 40% alcohol by volume it was a little strong for my taste (though it reminded me somewhat of tequila), so they gave me a cube of sugar to suck on after it’s been dipped in the brandy. Everyone else was drinking it out of their champagne flutes.

Europe 2010 travel diaries

3 comments

  1. Enjoy your stay in France !!! I’ve been using your theme for a couples of montehs, and I am really happy with it!
    I am located in the south west of France, near the spanish border…I just got to your blog for the first time as I was looking for tech info about the theme (trying to change the haders color) and I found out about your trip ! really nice pictures by the way ! very good! Anyway… enjoy your time here, I’ll come back to follow your french adventures!
    thanks!

  2. Your photos are breathtaking. I feel like I was transported to this magical place, though I’ve never been before. I can see why Kir, Calvados and Raclette are such a well-loved culinary tradition.

  3. RaaaaaacLEEEEETTTTTTTTE………

    ::swoon::

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