Weekend break in Brittany (part 2)

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As the sun was slowly starting to descend, we decided to take a walk right to the very edge of town where land stopped and water began. This was glorious. We walked for about two hours, taking in the last rays of a gorgeous day, salty wind rushing past us and sticking to our tongues and lots of hand holding. Once we reached the furthest tip, we saw the scatter of islands in the distance which, I didn’t believe at all at the time, are reachable when the tide is at its lowest and the beach is exposed, giving way to access.

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(On the left is high tide and the right is low tide – would you ever believe you could cross the sea?!?!)

Using the handy chart located at the steps that descend into the sea, we (i.e. Louis) calculated that the best time to go would be the following day at 12.30pm. As we walked back, we were awestruck by the immense houses and the fact that a little Breton man was playing his bagpipes in the open air just 50 metres away from us. The air was so serene and calm, life was pretty darn good in that moment.

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One of the idyllic islands we came across as we crossed low tide – and suddenly the sun came out at just the right moment!

 

Dinner that night was pizza from a local pizzeria, not a lot of great things to say about that but we didn’t mind. Saturday morning we rose early to check out the market at Dinard and it was insanely packed with market-goers. After the road-rage of trying to find a parking space, we bought a ton of seafood, fruits, vegetables, cheese and bread. French cuisine really does have it all sometimes. That afternoon was relaxed with no real agenda – as much as we wanted to sight-see, we also wanted to do absolutely nothing. Back at the house we chilled out on the beach with some beers and in the evening cooked up king prawns, langoustines, potatoes and a big salad. Divine.

Sunday was our final day. Last days almost don’t count as holiday time because you have 1000 things to clean and tidy up. Almost. After we swept, scrubbed and drove out of our petite maison, we made a little detour on the drive back – to Mont St Michel! How exciting, it was basically two holidays in one!! From Saint-Jact-de-la-Mer, it took us exactly one hour to drive up to the enoooormous car park at the Mont. From there, we hopped on a free shuttle bus that operates 24/7 for visitors and got to take a look around.

It's me!

It’s me!

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Arriving at 5.30pm, the tide was still out when we made our entrance into the Mont (literally ‘mount’.) The site is basically the tiniest village ever, not even village – hill! And people live there! Did you know the Mont has like 54 official residents? Crazy I know, but it’s obvious where the attraction comes from. The place was full of charm, as you make your way through the main ‘street’, you see restaurants and gift shops lining the way. We were just out of time to visit the Abbey because it closed at 6pm which we were pretty gutted about (also, if the Mont itself is open 24/7, surely the Abbey should be too!) but we saw some beautiful views from as top as we could get!

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We grabbed something to eat and made our way back to the car for another 4-hour drive back home. It’s times like these when I’m glad I don’t have a driving license 😉 So, verdict? One of the best weekend breaks! I’ve been craving for such a long time to explore more of France because there really is so much more to see than Paris, as fabulous as it is. I’m hoping I can take another long weekend again this summer, fingers crossed my boss says yes!

Weekend break in Brittany (part 1)

Monday was the fourth and final public holiday in France for the month of May. That’s right, FOURTH. Everyone goes crazy waiting for May to arrive (cue the Justine Timberlake meme…) because we just basically never go to work. Last weekend I made the most of our public holiday on the Thursday and booked the Friday off work to enjoy a long weekend somewhere out of Paris, and that ended up being Brittany!

I didn’t really know what to expect from the region, as all I’ve ever heard people say when they describe Brittany is ‘it rains.’ I was however looking forward to a real change of scenery, being outdoors and living the country life for a few days. I wasn’t disappointed.

We stayed in a small village called Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer which is right on the coast and has some small islands surrounding it which you can reach by walking at low-tide (I’m sure there are some technical names for all of that but as if I have any idea). Our location turned out perfect, as we were only a 30m drive from the popular town St-Malo, and about a 15m drive away from the towns Dinan and Dinard.

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As we were four, we rented an adorable little house through AirBnb that had a maritime theme running through and was less than a 5 minute walk away to a little beach! Louis was adamant about going fishing, so the morning we arrived we stopped off at a specialist shop to buy some equipment and that evening we threw our lines into the sea. We came home so very empty-handed, as did all the other fishermen so I guess it’s not a great area for a catch, but it was still so much fun nevertheless. I’d always wanted to try fishing and as long as you have a beer in the other hand and the sun on your face, it’s not the worst way to spend an afternoon.

We quickly popped into Saint Malo for lunch, trying out a traditional restaurant creperie Louis had looked up called Le Tournesol (The Sunflower). If you know even one thing about Brittany, it’s that this is where crepes were invented and rule supreme. Lunch was so rich and filling, and technically it was a galette not a crepe, both of which I could eat all day!

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The following day we spent the afternoon in Dinan, an adorable medieval town brimming with oak-beams and cobbled streets. We had anexceptional lunch here at a rustic restaurant called Le Lycorn (The Unicorn). The interor was so warming, filled with deep colours and dark woods. We all said we want to come back in winter and have a hearty raclette by the fireside! The girls got mussels in different broths, whilst the guys shared a …. which is basically meat on a hook, covered in an alcohol of your choosing and set on fire. It was incredible. Safe to say everyone was bursting by the end of it.

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We walked around the town a little, trying to burn some calories but ended up building up a thirst. We walked past a cafe called, appropriately so judging by the fact it was about 4pm, Tea Time. As you can understand, we really had no other option than to go inside and grab a table. The owners, I assume husband and wife, were so helpful in recommending different teas and flavours to suit our tastes and I was so delighted by the level of interest and genuine desire to hep us. After filling our cup, we slowly made our way back to the house and got out the fishing rods once more. However we were no luckier than the last time!

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Raw Butter Bites

If you follow my Instagram, you might have seen that I posted a little something a while ago about my home-made Butter Bites – now I’m here to give you guys the recipe. Moorish, fruity, nutty and a bitter tang of raw cacao, these tiny discs of decadence are literally gone in two bites. No cooking, no dairy, no refined sugar, no gluten (I’m not someone who is actually against/intolerant to all those things, but I do try to lean towards the healthier side of treats and sweets).

The recipe is really versatile too so try mixing up different flavours i.e. using a different flour for the base, adding fresh berries in the chocolate stage or experimenting with other nut butters.


Raw Butter Bites

Prep time: 15m      Setting time: at least 1hr in the fridge for each layer

Base:
125g hazelnut flour
Cupful of figs, softened in warm water
Drizzle of honey

Middle layer:
Teaspoon of almond butter for each ‘bite’

Chocolate layer:
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
(Add honey to taste if desired but I opted out)

Method

Soften the figs in warm water and place in the blender along with the hazelnut flour and honey. Blend until you get a sticky paste and all the flour is incorporated, it doesn’t matter if you chunky bits of fig here and there. (Add a tablespoon of warm water if it looks abit dry!)

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Place a teaspoon of the mixture in your moulds – the quantity really depends on the size of your moulds/cases, mine were tiny! Leave to set in the fridge for an hour.

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Once set, add a teaspoon of a nut butter of your choice. From my photos you can see I made 3 with almond and 6 with peanut – in the end I found the peanut butter to be too strong and really took the other flavours away, so if I made these again I would stick to almond but entirely up to you.

Place the cases/moulds back in the fridge for 1 hour.

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Finally, for the last chocolate stage, heat the coconut oil over a low heat and add the cacao powder. Stir well and add honey to sweeten if desired. I chose not to because I found the bitterness contrasted well with the nutty flavour and sweetness of the figs. Pour a tablespoon, or enough to fill the moulds, and place back in the fridge for another hour.

Once set, gently remove from the casings and enjoy with a cup of tea for an afternoon break!

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