A spot of bother....

Morlaix Travel Blog

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On the "main drag" in Morlaix.

We had great plans for our second weekend in France.  The sun was shining.... occasionally (we've since come to relish these elusive moments of brightness in an otherwise dreary winter environment) and we'd packed our bags for a trip down south.  We were headed to the land of vineyards, the howling Mistral and the home of our friends, la famille Espinasse. 

We had made rather elaborate plans to drive from Lannion to Brest, fly from Brest to Lyon and then take the train from Lyon to Orange (the closest we could get to their village), where our friends would pick us up and treat us to a relaxing weekend of good food, wine and sightseeing.

One of the many Crêperies in the city.
  Trains, planes and automobiles.........hmmmm.......looks like a recipe for disaster, as anyone would know who had seen the movie by the same name.

Airline employees are always on the lookout for and at the mercy of any potential problems that may occur when traveling but we had been "assured"  (in airline "speak"),  that our desired flight had plenty of seats available (for those of us who are silly enough to believe them).

We drove the 30 or so miles to Brest, arriving in plenty of time to admire the new airport terminal which had been built since we last visited the city less than two years ago.  There weren't alot of people queued at the counters so my "nonrev" radar was lulled into a false sense of security as I approached the man at the check-in desk.

Our chosen restaurant.
  I explained our position as reduced rate travelers, flying on standby and inquired as to the availability of seats for Lyon.  You would have thought I had just requested a couple of free seats on President Sarkozy's private jet.

The agent looked at the tickets, then looked at me, then looked back at the tickets, while executing that famous French shrug of the shoulders, which told me that we had no chance (in you know where) of getting on a plane that day. "Mais, madame,  le vol à Lyon est complet. "  As disbelief registered on my face,  I asked..... "What about the next flight?"  "Tous les vols sont complets" he announced with a certain amount of satisfaction in his voice. To add insult to injury, there were five people waiting for seats ahead of us.

The back alleys of Morlaix.

He scrutinized the tickets once again as if he couldn't believe we actually expected to use them there.    "But you have not paid very much money for these tickets!" he exclaimed.   "Even if there were seats available through Paris (which there were not) you could not use these tickets." 

I was a bit shell shocked as I tried to explain to Mark why we wouldn't be flying today.  The only thing I felt good about, at this moment, was the fact that I'd understood every word he had spoken in French.....but that was a very small concellation.

I phoned our friends, to explain and apologize for our change in plans, while Mark had already started work on "Plan B".

Another Crêperie just down the way from "ours".
  "So, where do you want to go now?", he inquired, with the TomTom poised for action.  Quimper would be my first choice but that was a bit too far in the opposite direction from our homebase.  As it was already noon, we felt it would be better to choose someplace closer to home.  "What about Morlaix?", he asked.   Sounds good to me.  Morlaix it is.

Morlaix sits in a very pretty position, at the bottom of a valley and smack on top of the river that runs through it.  As a matter of fact, because part of the river was covered over to allow for more building space, the valley occasionally floods as there is no other place for the water to go.  A very picturesque, shop lined boulevard sits on top of the river, which allows pedestrian traffic only, to more fully appreciate its splendor.

The viaduct spanning the valley.
  The most significant feature of the city would have to be the enormous viaduct which spans the valley and was built in the latter part of the 19th century to accomodate the rail line which ran to Paris.  It is still in use today as part of the TGV (rapid transit line).

To get a better view of the city, Mark and I climbed the innumerable stone steps leading up to the viaduct but were disappointed to see the access to the lower level had been gated and locked.  Our friend André told us later that the walkway had to be closed off due to the high number of suicides which had taken place on the site.  One could make a similar comparison to the suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco although the landing might be a bit different.

Yes, they DO dedicate entire shops to candies and pasteries!

We were in an area of France famous for its gallettes and crêpes as well as its cidre.  We found a lovely little side street not far from the city center which was crammed with cafés and restaurants of every conceivable nationality:  Italian, Moroccan, Thai and of course an over abundance of Crêperies.  We walked up and down, reading menus and discussing the merits of one eating establishment over another until we finally decided on a cosy little Crêperie filled with tiny tables in dark corners. 

We each selected a gallette de blè noir ( a huge crêpe made from buckwheat flour) which was filled with a selection of fruits de mer: scallops, mussels and shrimp.  Mark's selection featured a cream sauce made with onion, rich butter and  white wine,  while my choice contained the same delicacies, except they were smothered in a tomato based sauce with a hint of garlic and herbs.

The train runs along the top level, the suicides on the lower.
.....hmmmmm.  It was French food at its finest...... seafood delicately steamed to a toothsome perfection with fresh, flavorful sauces which screamed out to "sopped up" with the crusty chunks of French bread that were provided with the meal.  I overcame my American "southern roots" and only THOUGHT about sopping up the juices,  since Mark knew my inclinations and was already giving me the "evil eye" to ward off any inappropriate behavior. He knew that I was enjoying my meal since I had launched into my "chair dance", where I bounce back and forth ever so slightly in my chair, sometimes with my eyes closed and a satisfied grin on my face.

The only possible accompanyment to a meal of this stature was a pitcher of locally made cidre.

How many steps did you say there are??
..... one whole litre, to be exact, which produced a raised eyebrow from our waiter.  Perhaps he was doubtful of our ability to handle this much "alcohol" in the middle of the afternoon.  In any case, he was a talkative fellow who couldn't wait to practice his English on us so I didn't take it as an indication of my lack of French conversational skills.  When I commented on his excellent command of the language, we told us that he had no formal training but had learned it from the patrons he had served in the restaurant. 

Well, looks like there is hope for us yet..........  just let me have another litre of that cidre and I'll sound like a native!



bernard69 says:
have an upcoming nice week end in Orange!!!!
Posted on: Feb 05, 2009
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On the main drag in Morlaix.
On the "main drag" in Morlaix.
One of the many Crêperies in the …
One of the many Crêperies in the…
Our chosen restaurant.
Our chosen restaurant.
The back alleys of Morlaix.
The back alleys of Morlaix.
Another Crêperie just down the wa…
Another Crêperie just down the w…
The viaduct spanning the valley.
The viaduct spanning the valley.
Yes, they DO dedicate entire shops…
Yes, they DO dedicate entire shop…
The train runs along the top level…
The train runs along the top leve…
How many steps did you say there a…
How many steps did you say there …
A birdseye view of the city.
A birdseye view of the city.
Ancient walls which still stand wi…
Ancient walls which still stand w…
I really WAS enjoying the much nee…
I really WAS enjoying the much ne…
Okay, just ONE more picture.
Okay, just ONE more picture.
photo by: azsalsa