Where have I been? On holiday – and on an enforced holiday from this blog. The gite website promised wi-fi and I lugged my laptop bag all the way to France, only to find that the promise was a rash one. So the laptop stayed in its bag, and I spent the time having long, lazy lunches instead…
I haven’t spent much time in France, which is silly really, when it’s so close and there is so much nice food there. My terrible French irks me no end; I’d really like to speak it better. As it is, I sound like Del Boy and as much as I’d to blame my Essex accent, I can’t, because I’ve just been on holiday with old schoolfriends who speak French beautifully.
One of my old schoolfriends is A, and we were all invited to Brittany for what turned out to be a very beautiful wedding:
A group of us decided to make a week of it, and clubbed together for a gite for the week. The small issue of wi-fi aside, we came up trumps:
A stone farmhouse, set in the Brittany countryside, it had a pool and everything. That’s our bedroom in the picture, with all those beams.
How we had a thrifty holiday:
1. Clubbing together. There were eleven of us: four couples, and three babies. Lovely as it was, the gite worked out at less than £150 per adult for the week.
2. Driving to France. One problem with scooting off in the last week of August was that it was peak season and all the plane and ferry fares were ratcheted sky high. We briefly toyed with the idea of catching an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo in Brittany, for about £260, but worked out that it would be cheaper to drive from Calais. Taking our own car also meant that we didn’t have to fork out for relatively expensive car rental once we were there.
Driving in France doesn’t come that cheap, mind: there are toll roads, and a certain amount of prep is also required. For example, European breakdown cover should be purchased, and it is obligatory to carry certain items, such as breathalysers and hi-visibility vests, with you in the vehicle. I’m going to post separately about driving in France, and how we got the best deals on all the necessary gubbins.
3. Having a food kitty. There were eight of us, and we each contributed around £40 to a food kitty for the week. French food isn’t always the cheapest, but shopping in French supermarkets is so much fun: bargain wines, aisles lined with stinky cheeses and lots of fresh fruit and veg. With our pooled budget, we bought in bulk and ate like kings. Cheeses, breads, salads and charcuterie for lunch. Barbecues at night. And a lot of seafood…
4. Going for lunch. When we did eat out, we went for lunch rather than dinner. It also helped that the regional specialities were galettes, crepes and cidre, all of which represented good value.
5. Thrifty days out! Brittany was beautiful and sunny, so we were able to spend a lot of time outside, just enjoying the surroundings. We were content to laze the days away beside the pool, but we did get out and about too. We went to Carnac, and spent the morning on a quiet beach away from the main drag:
We also spent a little time in La Gassilly: a town filled with artisans and craft shops. They had a free photo exhibition, and it wasn’t just any exhibition: the town was carpeted in hundreds of photographs, blown-up on the sides of buildings and displayed in all the parks and public areas.
I wanted the holiday to go on and on, but sadly it came to an end and we had to pack up and come back again. We arrived home last night – but I’m still missing the place terribly.
Here is one of my favourite pictures from the week:
This is the day after the wedding, at the manor house where the reception dinner took place. The wedding guests descended again, for lunch, to make sure that the leftovers were well and truly polished off – and to soak up the sun.