We were sitting at the Unicorn having enjoyed our usual galette complet, having discovered the joys of lait ribot for the first time – it’s amazing we’ve never come across it before given the number of times we’ve been to Brittany – when a couple of patrons behind us were suddenly drenched with water. It was quite shocking, not least of all for them. I can only assume it was because of the morning’s rain.
As our ferry moved into the dock at St Malo, the rain was belting down. We sat (along with the other passengers) and looked out into the wetness, our faces a study in grim. The grimness was also because of the announcement telling us that the usual gangplank was out of commission so we’d have to descend to the car deck and walk through the garage to disembark.
However, and fortuitously, the delay caused by the fact that we the foot passengers had to wait for the cars to vacate deck three meant we missed the rain which had conveniently stopped falling. I call that a win…though possibly not for the two patrons at the Unicorn who were drenched when the staff tried to unfurl the canopy above their heads.
The rest of the morning (and some of the afternoon) was sent wandering around St Malo, reacquainting ourselves with the familiar and the changed. Actually, there’s never much on the changed list though this boat, the Pilgrim, moored in the marina is definitely new given it was only built last year.
It is a 1/8 sized replica of a ship built in the 1600’s. It also contains a collection of Russian arts and crafts. It’s a sort of floating museum that sails the sea, stopping and delighting people around the globe.
Another new innovation for St Malo are wooden terraces stuck onto the front of cafes. While these mean that the narrowest of streets can still have outside seating, it also means that the footpaths disappear beneath them. That would be fine if there wasn’t any traffic. But there is. Which makes it irritating…except when you’re sitting on one.
I can only hope that some enterprising young person made a lot of money with an excellent idea rather than the council decided to do it for everyone.
New (for us anyway) is the big, mega-cool hotel at the top of the town. We had lunch there (the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had) and the place is amazing. The foyer of the hotel is decorated with giant pigs holding trays and a ceiling that is like looking into the petals of a tulip. Or so Mirinda reckons.
The whole place exudes the best in funky, modern design and takes advantage of some fantastic materials and concepts.
We had a jolly good wander, stopping at cafes for refreshment, having a read in the sun on the ramparts and window shopping in the sort of tourist shops where fathers tell their young children to touch with their eyes only for fear they’ll break everything in their excitement for tourist tat.
Eventually we could check into the Hotel Chateaubriand and retired for a while to contemplate the world behind our eyelids and the amazing view from the window.
After a lovely long rest which also featured the Russia v Spain World Cup game that saw yet another favourite leave the competition, we headed out to find some dinner. Little did we know how awful our dining companions would prove to be. As it was, we had a few pleasant surprises to fool us into a false sense of security first.
There was the troupe of various French period re-enactors playing drums and singing and leading reluctant donkeys up the road. They were advertising a wonderful night of fun, fireworks and frolics to occur at the end of July. Sadly we won’t be here.
We then decided to try a seafood restaurant that we’ve spotted on previous trips but never actually ventured into. And can I just say that the food was exquisite. And the wine. Sadly the same cannot be said for the table of very loud, opinionated Brexit voting Little Englanders whose heads were stuck so fast up each others arses that it’s a wonder they could taste their food.
They were so bad that when they left, everyone in the restaurant gave them a good long stare as if to try and ascertain what sort of human being could be so happy to tell the world how narrow minded, racist, and generally short sighted they are. Personally I think they had popped in from the days of the Raj for a short visit and I’m hoping they return as soon as possible. This group of people was one that cares little for anything but a past that did not exist and will never return.
They almost put us off our food but we successfully ignored them sufficiently enough to enjoy the delicious food and wine on offer. Madame and her two helpers (and the chef) made us feel very welcome and fed us to perfection. Le Chalut, for that is the name of the place, really was exceptional…as opposed to the horrid people we had to put up with.
After our repast we went for a stroll along the inner harbour, passed the tall ships, beyond the twin hulled competitor yachts to the huge trawler Chande Hermine which looked rather rusty but still quite seaworthy. Built in 1985, she freezes her catches on board as they are hauled out of the sea.
We then walked along the seafront, heading back to the security inside the town walls, our hotel and, finally, bed.
And not forgetting Mon…