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I have always dreamed of visiting Brittany. I have met many Britons who have been incredibly open, nice and lots of fun. I’m also attracted to the wild, ocean coast with true high and low tides, crabs hidden under beach rocks, clams, oysters and thick, green seaweed. I’ve seen photos of high, jagged cliffs, waves crashing and green fields.

Well, I still haven’t truly been to Brittany but a few weeks ago, I got close ! My husband was invited to the annual gathering of veterans of the 11th shock parachute regiment in La Baule, a town on the Atlantic Coast, about an hour from Nantes. It was the perfect excuse to leave the children at home with their grandmother and have a weekend far away in a place I’d never seen. It took nearly ten hours to get there by car, but I still can’t resist the French country side. Rolling hills, vineyards, castles, walled towns, pastures with cows grazing. If you drive early in the morning, there is often humidity rising from the fields as the sun rises and it is probably one of the most incredible visions I have ever seen. I tried to take a picture from the car but it just didn’t do the view justice.

The hotel we were staying at was in Guérande, a town famous for the salt marshes, producing what I consider to be the best salt in the world. It’s the only salt I buy. It is greyish, humid and the taste is salt perfection. The fleur de sel is whiter and dryer as it is the fine layer of crystals that form on the surface and is at risk of blowing away with the first wind. It is salt gold and only used at the table to finely salt a prepared dish. We were supposed to go on a visit to the marshes but to my great dismay, it was cancelled. Take a look at this and you’ll get the idea !

We did, however, visit the picturesque old town center of Guérande. There was an incredible array of cafés, shops selling rain coats, salt and all things fish. I could have spent a fortune but managed to be reasonable, buying only 5 kg of gros sel (large crystal salt) which I use to make dried duck breast and a small paper bag of fleur de sel aux 5 baies (salt and pepper together, genius). My husband and I ate a wonderful little hole in the wall seafood place called “Au grè des marées” the first evening we were there. He doesn’t really like raw or cold seafood on a platter, but we both enjoyed the meal we had because the seafood was wonderfully fresh and very nicely presented. The restaurant wasn’t chic, the lights were too bright but we had a fantastic time. The welcome was warm, the food incredible and the Pouilly fumé we drank with it added to the pleasure.

The bay of La Baule is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world.

Jennifer is a Canadian/American, living in the South of France for the last 18 years. Married to a frenchman who's job forces him to spend a lot of his time overseas, she has learned to cope with all those everyday challenges brought about by her sometimes crazy life. Adapting to a new culture, raising children, taking care of animals, growing a vegetable garden, cooking for her family and friends, teaching cooking classes and trying to maintain a fairly organized and inviting home. Here are some of her thoughts about it all.

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