Gizzards to Erquy, Cote de Penthievre, La Manche

Dave the motorhome’s on the southern coast of La Manche, the English Channel, although still a way from our jumping off point back to Blighty. We’ve cut across the Brittany peninsula and are lodged in a coastal municipal aire at Erquy (N48.62113 W2.47243). It’s €6 a night, and although it’s not completely packed, it’s not far off, which isn’t much of a surprise as it’s only just September, and we’re about a 2 minutes walk from a huge sandy bay. There are over 40 other motorhomes in here with us; France has to be the most motorhome-focussed country on the planet.

Dave alongside Wher'dmadaygo, we've met up with Fabulous Aussies Paul and Rose again, get in!
Dave alongside Wher’dmadaygo, we’ve met up with Fabulous Aussies Paul and Rose again, get in!

I’ll be honest. It was my cook night last night, but I couldn’t be bothered. I’d been scavenging on the beach rocks for mussels and was tired, whacked. I whipped out a packet of Swiss Rosti and a can of French Gesier de Canard. The former’s an easy one – shredded spuds basically, we’d eaten shed loads of it and love it, easy camper grub. The latter we’ve eaten once before. It’s alongside the cans of Confit de Canard (cooked duck thighs stored in duck fat) in the supermarket, but it’s a fair bit cheaper. Ju made the mistake of looking it up on t’Interweb before we ate it last night, it’s duck gizzards. Yeah, right. It’s a bit of the bird’s internal used to grind up seeds and the like, and all of a sudden it looked boff. We ate ’em anyway, and once again they tasted delicious. The theme seems to run through much of French cooking: sounds boff, looks boff, tastes awesome.

This morning we lay in late, making the most of these lazy days where we have nowt to get up for. Come 10am Charlie was somewhat disgruntled his grub wasn’t forthcoming so we jumped up, showered, and fed the wee fella. As I took him for a walk a French fella left his motorhome, walked over to the trees and took a leak. These guys know how to pee in public, regardless of the fact they’ve just walked away from a loo to do so. It’s kind of admirable, they just don’t give a monkeys.

As the sun shone through into Dave’s cab, we set off. The sink held a pan full of salt water, oats and mussels. We’d looked up on t’Interweb this was the best way to prep the fellas, something about ’em eating the oats and excreting bad stuff ready for me to munch ’em. We’d gotten word from Rose that these guys had managed to get into the aire here, and were off spear fishing. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. We’d no plans or places to go, have seen a boat load of Brittany before, and they’re great folks. There’s something refreshing about all the Auzzies we’ve met, might sounds like a stereotype but they just seem to love life, and to not stress the small stuff.

Hitting the road north. The central part of the route was reserved for buses, the outside bits for push bikes.
Hitting the road north. The central part of the route was reserved for buses, the outside bits for push bikes.

For whatever reason, the fast roads in Brittany are toll free, all of ’em. We tapped in the co-ordinates for here, 3 hours 30 minutes, which means in reality 4 hours for Dave. Satnav time runs slower for Dave, either some kind of Einstein-explained special relativity effect, or we’re just flippin slow. Anyway, we cruised off, enjoying the easy driving and the complete lack of lorries. Maybe they’re not able to run on a Sunday here, we dunno, but the only ones we saw were parked up.

After an hour or two the fuel light flashed on. We need Excellium! Dave’s running on Total’s decent diesel for once as we pile on back up to Nottingham. Jamie advised us to get a few tanks of it through our aged engine to clean him through a bit. We’ve the MOT coming up in two weeks and hope to get him through the emissions test easier by using this stuff. Ju prodded the Satnav and found a Total station in the POI database. Cool, we found the place, couldn’t remember whether Carte Bleue was Visa or not (it is), so used out ’emergency 50′ note to top up (with some seriously slow squeezing I hit €49.99 then bottled it). After washing Dave’s windscreen and topping his water tank up, we pulled to the side of the station and munched lunch. The mussels went down a treat, although I’d totally messed up on the size of ’em. They should be 4cm long but judging by the cockle-sized meat, they must have been maybe 3cm max.

Tasty, but illegally small.
Tasty, but illegally small.

Back on the road, we just piled on Northwards, mile after mile of emptyish dual-carriageway through chopped wheat fields and maturing corn. The countryside up here looks like England, we could be home but for the fact the locals insist on speaking French (or Breton for the die-hards) and driving on the wrong side of the road.


Toll-free driving.
Toll-free driving.

Flowing into the aire here at Erquy we spotted wher’dmadaygo. Rose had popped some stuff in the space next to them to reserve it for us, we shifted it sideways and reversed in. An SMS later and we found they were off in their car fish hunting, so we headed off for a walk along the coast. It’s quite beautiful here, and the crowds were clearly off back to work, or were elsewhere as we wandered along. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach until 15 Sept, so Charlie had to make do with the coast path. I later spotted a couple of local dogs in the sand and tried to persuade Ju to let Charlie join ’em. She told me one had just done the bad stuff right next to some sun-bathers, the owner just shrugging and issuing a ‘desolee’ (sorry) before walking off as the bather’s wrinkled noses at the honking mess. Hmmm, maybe we’ll keep Charlie off the beach then.

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Off in the next bay, we found everyone. Hundreds of people were stacked three deep along the quayside watching crew after crew of fun-meisters lugging their bath-based boats into the sea and paddling ’em about. The A Team theme music pumped out, followed by Hawaii 5 O, The Muppets, all that great stuff. We leaned over folks trying to get a view, astounded by the huge interest.

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Half an hour’s walk and we’re back at Dave, Paul and Rose are back and we’ve been over there eyeballing the massive fish Paul’s speared. Checking t’Interweb, it’s a wrasse and it’s edible. Those guys are big fish eaters, and with Paul’s skills they’ve fed whole hoards of wild campers around them at times. Today they’re feeding us, and there’s an offer of a spear fishing lesson tomorrow, huzzah! Fish is suddenly looking very tame, compared to duck gizzards!

Tonight's tea.
Tonight’s tea.

Cheers, Jay





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