Thursday, July 12, 2007

Le Fromage du Mort

Dinard Airport was built to serve an age when air travel was a more personal pastime. You find this out as soon as you find yourself squashed into its baggage hall even more tightly than you were in the Ryanair Boeing that you landed in. Still, its advantage is that it's only steps into the outside world once you're through the perfunctory immigration check.

Our base for the 4 night break was an hour's drive away at the Manoir des .. oh damn, I've forgotten the rest. Anyway, it's just outside Sables d'Or des Pins and good because it doesn't have a restaurant and they leave you alone to come and go as you wish.

The attraction of this part of Brittany, of course, is that it's a coast like you wish England had - and would have if it wasn't for the way our coastline has been spoiled by pandering to the worst elements of mass tourism. Dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, long sandy beaches, fishing towns with actual fishing boats in their harbours, pleasant courteous waiters who bring delicious local produce to your table cooked to perfection at prices that make you swear never to be ripped off in an English restaurant ever again.
We spent most of the time at nearby Erquy, where the west-facing beach curves in a perfect crescent and you can eat coquilles St. Jaques and drink a glass of cider on a cafe terrace, looking across the harbour where the day's catch is brought to.

Well we inspected the sights, as you do on holiday. Remnants of abbeys, ancient stones, things that you don't give a second glance to back home that suddenly become must-sees when abroad.

We'd rented a Ford Fusion. I've driven automatics for years and this thing showed me why. To change gear you had to ram the clutch so far into the corner of the footwell that it could only be done using the very tip of your big toe. Agonising. And with a gear lever that felt like stirring Artex with a feather. After 100 years of motoring, how a major manufacturer can come up with such crap is beyond me. Not that it would matter if the public's irrational hatred of automatics could be overcome and we could all drive sensibly. Why they can't be arsed even to lock the car door without a remote control and yet insist on faffing about with a manual gear-box is a mystery.

Back at the airport, there was a sign saying what was forbidden to take on board. Among them, amusingly I thought, was 'smelly items'. We smiled condescendingly, thinking it was a quaint mistranslation from the French. Not so! Les Douaniers Francais could hardly be more rigorous on this matter! In a search of Mme.'s hand-luggage, an eagle-eyed gendarme detected a suspicious tub of Boursin fromage and confiscated it forthwith. Comforting to know the War on Terror is being taken so seriously on both sides of the Channel.

No comments: