Take a walk ....
Everyone likes to take a gentle stroll down the jetty - whatever the Notice says!
There are no restrictions on the beach but beware that many of the beaches have very soft sands and become dunes in in some parts around the coast. After a high tide they quickly turn to a muddy consistency which makes hard walking.
For a good cliff walk take the coastal path - sentier des douaniers - from above the oyster beds for wonderful views over the bay.
Some 20th century history/La Force du destin.
As you wander along the waterfront, turn up the hill at the corner where the restaurant/ hotel "La Mere Champlain" stands and stroll up Rue du Port.
This long avenue will take you to the centre of the old town and beyond, passing on the way a number of small restaurants and shops. (Look out for L'Hirondelle - a very good Creperie).
It is a fairly steep climb so take your time.
In these terraced houses once lived the sailors and fishermen of the area. Around the square and the church of St Meen at the first level, you will find the "Town Centre" with some larger houses, bigger shops, banks and even a modest supermarket.
We carried on up Rue du Port and chose a small cafe next to a charcuterie where we sat at a pavement table to enjoy a cup of local cider and freshly made ham and cheese baguettes.
Thoughts of the momentous events taking place here in August 1944 could not have been further from our minds when we spotted a plaque, high on the opposite wall close to a boulangerie.
In a few simple words it commemorates the victims of the bombardment of 6 August 1944 when 33 people were killed and another 77 seriously injured.
It took me a while to discover the story behind these few words.
It is a poignant, personal record which you can read here (sorry - only in French)
Les laveuses d'huîtres de Cancale- seen by artists
The Oyster Washers of Cancale.
Immediately in front of St Meen Church in the main square of the old town there is a rather charming bronze fountain. The sculptor was a Breton - Jean Fréour (1919 -2010).
It depicts two young women busy at work at the turn of the 19th Century before mechanical aid was available. They are washing oysters, preparing them for sale and for the table.
It is likely that they were married but their husbands could have been away for long periods fishing in the rich seas of Newfoundland. Meanwhile they earned the daily bread by working in the oyster fields, looked after children and managing the family finances.
We are used to the work of earlier artists showing women involved in domestic work, looking after hens or leading home the geese - even helping the reapers in the fields, but this was hard manual work with very little romantic about it.
So, although the statue has undoubtless charm, I can't help feeling that it romanticises the hard labour of these women in a similar manner to the works of the American painter John Singer Sargent( and others) in his many paintings and sketches of the oyster farmers of Cancale.
Visit the oyster beds and sample the produce.
Most people, specially those on jholiday, seem to enjoy watching other people working!
Here, right at the end of the Quai in Cancale you can see the oyster beds and the great activity that takes place in order to farm the oysters and prepare them for sale.
Huge sacks leave from here on tractors and lorries to end up on the tables of countless restaurants.
But if you are a lover of oysters you can buy them and enjoy them with a wedge of lemon - right there - sitting on the wall overlooking the bay.
Visit the Pointe du Grouin
The Pointe marks the beginning of the Bay of Mont St.-Michel and the Abbey can be seen in the distance from there as well as along the succeding coast. At the Pointe is a solitary small hotel (Logis de France) and restaurant (often with rooms readily available). There are walks and hiking paths and an undisturbed series of sea views. Both this and nearby Cancale are excellent bases of operation from which to visit the area. We have described it under Bretagn.Off the Beaten Path and Beausoleil has ppictures in a Travelogue under St. Malo.
At the Pointe is a solitary hotel and restu
- Family Travel
Walk Out On the Jetty and Look Around
There is nothing much to do in Cancale when the tide is in (as it was when we arrived and left), but we came to eat the oysters. When the tide is out the bay just above the jetty is a busy place tending and harvesting the oysters that Parisians look forward to. There are fine views and Mont St.-Michel may be visible (with time to spend you can mount the church steeple). Four km north up D201 is Pointe du Grouin covered in the next Tip. At the base of the jetty is a lighthouse and an old crane.
- Family Travel
Marche aux Huitres (Oyster Market)
When you visit Cancale make sure you check out the Marche aux Huitres (Oyster Market).
The market is located at the end of the road, close to the small lighthouse, and while it consists of only handful of stalls, it is worth a look.
The oysters are all laid out, according to their size and quality. Prices started from around 2 euro for a dozen of the smallest oysters (size 5), and are considerably dearer for the huge oysters, which are the size of a plate!
You can buy oyster from the market to eat on the spot. They open them for you and serve them on a plastic plate. You can eat them as is, or add a little lemon juice to taste.
- Road Trip
- Food and Dining
Oysters are everywhere in Cancale, which probably has something to do with the fact that Cancale labels itself the 'Oyster capital of Brittany'.
There are lots of restaurants where you can sample the local fare, and rumour has it that some of the top restaurants in Paris use the delicious Cancale oyster as well.
The town is surrounded by hundreds of oyster beds. As the tide goes out, the town is filled with activity. Truck after truck after tractor heads down to their patch to harvest the latest salty specimens. It is really interesting just to watch them go about their business.
Cancale is also home to a small museum dedicated to shellfish and oyster farming.
- Road Trip
- Food and Dining
Visit the oyster stalls
If you are facing the bay, the oyster stalls are all the way to the left side. We went the other way and at the end of the way was this store. They're just as cheap.
I guess the big tidal difference makes it easy to harvest the oysters. At low tide, you can see tractors going way out into the bay. The oyster field is set up neatly like rice paddies.
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