Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

 A very Happy Thanksgiving to our friends and family. This is our favorite holiday. It reminds us to reflect upon all the blessings we have in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for…especially each other and you!

Today, we are thankful to be in Angers, France. We will be celebrating this Thanksgiving with our new friends at the Bibliothèque Anglophone where we begin our volunteer duties next week! We met S, a retired international exchange student program coordinator from...Corvallis! Can you believe it? Another PNW connection!

We love the Brittany area and may eventually move there, but the people in Angers provide a connection that makes it feel like home. The size of the city still concerns me, but we have access to plenty of open, green space. Yesterday, we walked 8 miles on inter-connected parks to the ville of Bouchemaine and only saw a handful of people. Summer won’t be like that, but we are hopeful to be housesitting in England during the summer. 

Our Airbnb hosts are adding another property to their collection this spring and it looks like that may be our new home! It turns out that acquiring a rental is a special form of torture in France. Without a dossier that includes about 30 pages of documents, references, and someone to guarantee they will pay your rent if you don’t, you can’t even look at properties. Our hosts are willing to bypass those steps. It would be great to have a long term rental for the first 6-12 months. It will even have A/C! It is 2 houses from a bus line and 3 blocks from Parc Saint Nicolas. Exactly where we wanted to be! Nothing in stone, but pretty likely.

Anyone want to buy a house in Salem? When we return, we will begin the process of selling everything we own!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry, these are a bit out of order…

Our potential new neighborhood.

A wetland in Angers. So many birds!
Another Ami. (it was locked. We will get a picture of us inside one at some point. We keep our promises, Gary!)
A wisteria arbor in Angers.

Kouign  Amann  A Bretagne pastry. Pronounced queen-a-mahn. We tried our first one on our walk in Lèhon. Now we understand how people get addicted to meth. One bite. One bite is all it takes. This pastry is like the flaky layers of a croissant basted in a sugar water syrup with extra butter and then is caramelized so that it is just crispy and buttery on the top. They serve them warm. Crack cocaine could not be as magical as this.

John took his first bite and looked at me and said, “I bet this has lard in it.” and I replied. “I don’t care if it’s made from kittens.” Oh my God ! This is a high we will never experience again. 


We don’t know what these are, but they are shrubs on the side of a path and they possess incredibly sharp thorns.
The path from Lèhon to Dinan.
A bookstore in Angers.

On our last Sunday in Dinan, we decided to walk back to the bakery for one last hit of our crack/meth/pastry. Fisherman lined the path with super long fishing poles. They would chum the water and then pull in little tiny fish. One after the other. It looks like they had thousands of dollars of equipment to catch something smaller than a sardine. 

An Angers grocery store. (Leclerc)
Sunset in Dinan
Dinan kitty

Angers to Bouchemaine.

OK, I know this is stupid, but when we returned to Angers and talked with our host about renting, I made a little bet with myself that if we found a coin in Angers it would be a sign to move there. We haven’t found a spare coin anywhere in France. An hour after the thought, look what appeared.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Saint Malo

 A few years ago I read Anthony Doerr’s historical fiction masterpiece All the Light We Cannot See partially set in Saint Malo during WWII. I know it was fiction, but it resonated so deeply with me, I had to visit. (BTW - his latest book Cloud Cuckooland did not work for me at all. You can read my review on the book review tab of my blog.)

We looked at the tall stone buildings, many with a tiny window at the top, and imagined   Marie-Laure and her grandfather sending music over a hidden radio to bring some solace anyone lucky enough to receive it.

We had Saint Malo almost completely to ourselves. We walked the rampart walls and  across the tidal basin to some of the remote islands. We could see the island of Guernsey in the distance. It was just magical. Sunny and warm and beautiful.

To celebrate my big 6-0, we had our first dine-in restaurant meal since June. No one was allowed entry without the QR code from the government proving they had been vaccinated, so we felt reassured. Glad we were able to get that! It was the best fish and chips we have ever eaten!

After lunch, we walked out to the lighthouse. The weather was starting to change and we had 2 1/2 hours until our train was scheduled to leave. The big beautiful building across from the train station is Saint Malo‘s Médiathèque. That is what they call some libraries in France. We went inside, the security guard asked for our QR and he admitted us to a beautiful brand new space. We were in heaven. We spent a couple of hours there and hopped the train home while viewing a gorgeous sunset. 

Brittany has been absolutely beautiful. We have two more unscheduled days here. I wish we did not have to leave.

Layover at a train station. Visiting our favorite ducks. France really needs to get control of the mistletoe that is taking over their trees. It is everywhere and it is prolific. These poor trees also have English ivy.

One of the tiny windows. I can hear the music!

This area has 30 to 50 foot tidal surges. We were there at low tide, so we were able to take the path to the islands.
This is a swimming pool built into the shore.
I absolutely love this goofball.

The weather started to turn.

Another free, sanitizing bathroom.

Médiathèque in Saint Malo

Entry after security 
Librarians everywhere love their old card catalogs!

John found this for me. How timely! How to work after 60? I don’t think so.

Sunset from the train

OMG, the richest, creamiest chocolate cake ever!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Wednesday Off

 We have reached our halfway point and are ready for a break. Almost 200 miles walked! 

Tomorrow, the rail workers go on a planned strike for the day and it is supposed to rain, so we plan to hang around the house which has four walls of sliding glass doors that look out on the most beautiful garden. So nice to be in someone else’s garden as it is easier to overlook any work that must be done!

We are in Dinan, which looks like the setting for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” They were stringing Christmas lights and it is going to be magical.

Today we visited Saint Brieuc. (Pronounced Brie-eww…emphasis on eww) not the nicest French city. It looks like they are trying and in a few years it may be okay.

We met the nicest French English teacher at the public toilet. John pressed the green button to open the door, but nothing. Finally, this kind lady showed him that he was pressing the indicator light instead of the actual button.

We had the nicest discussion about teacher bladders and retirement. She also explained that you never hold the street bathroom door open for the next person as the sanitizer will engage and they will get wet feet. The door must close, sanitizing occurs, then the door unlocks and it is ready for the next person. Thank goodness it doesn’t sanitize from the ceiling!

Speaking of sanitizing…the French have so many different sanitation workers. The trains and stations are clean, the streets and parks have folks sweeping and even picking up cigarette butts…dog poop is another story. 

Walking is especially challenging in the fall. Brown, curled leaves can perfectly camouflage dog poop. One either tries to avoid every leaf or assumes it is a leaf and gets a rude surprise. And some of those surprises are enormous.

Signing off until next time, when I will share my observations about noses, whether nosing their way into line ahead of you or hanging over a mask. Sigh.

Rennes train station. Really clean. Public piano with a really good pianist. John went to record him, ooh look an escalator mechanism!

When I first saw the feet on this guy, I thought he was wearing clown shoes. Bunny slippers? Angel slippers! (I am waiting for my lightning bolt.)

Our guest house in Dinan. About 80 feet long. The last place was in an attic and every step we took made loud creaking sounds. It is so nice to have a solid floor!
Waiting for a train. Gorgeous.
I cannot believe we have this place to ourselves. It must be an absolute zoo during a non-Covid summer.

Is it poo? Is it a leaf? It’s both!
I don’t think this wrinkle cream works well.
We stopped at a local Patissier and they wrap your purchases like a gift. She even gave us an extra piece of cake for free. Who does that?
The Church does not want to miss out on funding. No change? No problem! You can tap your credit card and give however much you like.

I did it! Squat, aim, laundry! 🥴 Men are so lucky!