Nice to Nantes.
Trip Start May 30, 2013
21Trip End Nov 25, 2013
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Where I stayed
With French friends Arlette and Pierre
Our final day in Nice and it is Bastille Day. A last few hours spent strolling the Old quarter for some last minute shopping, packing of bags, and we were ready for a final farewell walk after dinner to the Promonade de Anglaise - the main road that follows the beach line from the Airport to the Port. We had thought there would be celebrations of fireworks , and we were not disappointed. Roadblocks set up to stop traffic on this normally very busy road, was the indication that something BIG was going to happen. We found an empty seat and positioned ourselves to ’people watch’ and get a great view too, of the beach area. Numbers swelled , and at 10pm sharp (had to wait till it was dark), the streets lights went out and we were all in darkness. The display started immediately from 2 naval boats moored a short way off shore . The Avenue is about 5 miles long and was lined with people watching the brilliant show-
a wonderful 30 minute continuous show of MAJOR SIZED fireworks
Up early for our flight to Nantes- 1 hour flight on Air France, where we were met on arrival by Arlette and Pierre….some of our fNZ friends would have met them when they were in NZ 2 years ago. A quick trip to their home to drop off our luggage and we were off again, for an overview with them in their car to show us their very lovely village and surrounding area. Cooling off with a cool Sorbet in Cuce-sur-Erde on the riverbank early evening , and a lovely meal at their home at 10pm.The area of Nantes is VERY green (they have had a lot of rain until recently) - and after Nice it is like being in a lovely green forest. Arlette & Pierre ,although close to a main road, are in part of a very old homestead grounds , that has been subdivided (all the trees left) into 2 acres lots - the original gate into the large property is still used, and gives access right to the tram line, that now runs where Pierre used to dump his lawn clippings. It is 10pm while I am writing and it is still daylight - strange !!!!
Pierre has an expression about Brittany, France - he says …..“it only rains twice a week in Brittany”, first time for 3 days, then 2nd time for 4 days”!!!! …BUT we’ re lucky and the days are HOT and sunny . Again this morning we set off in the car for a day they had planned for us - through the French countryside, and passing the salt marshes for which Brittany is famous . The women of the salt marshes were expected to carry up to 30kg’s on their heads , while working in the marshes. For almost 1500 years , generations of 'Salters' have shaped and managed this unique landscape- with a presence of 180 species of birds present in the marshes. Each year , an average of 10,000 tons of rough salt are produced, covering almost 2,000 hectares. Thatched cottages, many fields of cut and rolled hay bales waiting to be collected- cornfields and 2 lovely old original windmills, still working. This area is steeped in Celtic history. After making purchases of varieties of salt from a stall being run by a Grandson of his 80 year old Grandparents salt farm, our next stop was Guerande,
A walled Medieval city with a mote from the 1340’s with it’s formidable ramparts. The fort wall is one of the best preserved and complete in France - Its circumference stretches 1343 metres and includes 10 towers
The principal French ‘port of prawns‘. Le Croisic offers the sea on your plate!!!
Sea bass, fish stews and many invitations to dine on fish products .The community forms a peninsula between the mouth of the Loire and the bay of Traict. Legend has it that the area was founded in the 5th century. We wandered this pretty port , with its Colombage old houses, lovely old back streets, which allowed us to take in the rich past of this ancient Corsair city and its many fine examples of architectural heritage. We finally drove the complete shoreline - a raw, rugged coastline (it is on the Atlantic after all)…
Many sun worshippers were taking advantage of the low tide, and it looked a very safe area to swim , with no waves. Many yachts out further, sailing , and we did stop in the heat, for a quiet few minutes under some huge trees along the Esplanade, noticing as we drove further south , that the whole boat marina empties of water at low tide, and every boat was left ‘high and dry’- one would have to chose carefully, when you wanted to take your boat out!!!!.
Around the next bay was Saint-Nazaire- the highlight of our day for Garry’s Dad, Roger;
Roger after landing at the French port of Cherbourg with a British artillery unit to help the French resistance, found that the German troops were far too strong and organised ,after overrunning most of France and the allies were eventually pushed to the Port of Saint Nazaire by the Germans …Roger finished up watching the very ship that was due to take him off back to England , (the troop ship Lancastria), be blown up in the harbour , with a total loss of 3,000
We crossed the huge and very high bridge that spans the La Loire river mouth at Saint Nazaire, where we sat in a harbour side garden bar, with a Panache ,(shandy) giving us a great view back to the ship building yards- cooling us down and ready for our long drive home .
Our Hosts, (Arlette & Pierre) live on the Northern side of Nantes, so it was a lovely drive back through the French countryside to home after leaving the house 10 hours before. Again a 10pm dinner…..and still daylight.
Our last day here in Brittany and Arlette & Pierre have another full day planned. Like little mice, we slipped out the back gate in the trees this morning , and straight onto the tram that glides past the rear of their big section. A day for them to proudly show us their lovely city of Nantes.400,000 population ….
Built by Francis 11 last Duke of Brittany , his work was continued by his daughter Anne of Brittany, Duchess and twice Queen of France. Poor Anne was married at 14 and lived to only 39. The fortress is still surrounded by the original mote and we had to enter over the original drawbridge.There is a ‘green line ‘walk , that one can take showing all the historical spots around the central city, however we had our own tour guides, and I have to say I have finally ‘met my match’- Arlette & Pierre walked our legs off (in the heat too)…..we were exhausted at the end of our day out, and were very glad to climb back on that tram .Catching one that lead us over the river Loire - very wide and now on the outer city .
A fond farewell, Arevoir and merci to our friends and wonderful hosts at Nantes airport, after a whirlwind “French” 3 days, and we were on our flight to Paris, with lovely views of countryside all the way and of course my nose stuck to the window…then a VERY long walk to find our terminal for the Air France flight to New York on Airbus A380- Oh MY!!! A massive beast waiting for us to board……….. 516 passengers on this 2 storied giant flyer- the largest commercial passenger airline in service at present….
facts for David!!! 73 metres long, and a wing span of 79.8 metres….like flying in a football field really!!! Anyway in spite of the 516 passengers, we did all receive great service, and the food was tops- this flying hotel ticks all the boxes for service.
Now landed in JFK and overnight before an early flight to Kentucky to meet up with David and Erin (neighbours from NZ) to stay with Barb and Ken. And the start of another story.