Aside

From Normandy to Brittany

Breakfast at Villa La Gloriette was served on fine china in a sun-filled room decorated with a fireplace and a grand piano.  Coffee was delicious and served with hot milk, which is, for me, what separates the men from the boys.
For breakfast, we got a basket of assorted bread products, homemade preserves (raspberry being my favorite), homemade yogurt (something tasting between Greek yogurt and kefir) and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Could have lingered longer in the lovely room over a great cup of coffee but we had a full day ahead of us. Our first stop was Honfleur. Finally, having successfully  accessed our bank account, we were looking forward to a great meal.
Honfleur is everything Rouen is not.  Half-timber buildings here are happily leaning on adorable  brick houses, the store fronts are painted primary colors and so is the timber on the eponymous houses.  The little town is huddled around a harbor with sail boats docked by the main drag.  The town is unmistakably Nordic but as cheerful as any Southern town. The only drawback is that it is mobbed with tourists.  People travel too much and en masse these days if you ask me.  Something has to be done to curb their enthusiasm and let the true travel die hards like myself enjoy the sights sans annoying tourists!
So our lunch was reserved at Sa Qua Na, the 2-Michelin-star restaurant. We had a choice of a 5-course lunch or a 9-course lunch. After some agonizing, we settled on the 9-course, having been told that the portions are tiny. And they were, but the 9 courses turned out to be 14 courses. 15, if you count the delicious bread served with Combava oil.
First, we received a pre-appetizer, a gourmet version of Dutch baby, then came the bread, soup, four seafood dishes, a meat dish, cheese, salad, and two desserts followed by three more desserts, complements of the chef, the same size as the main two desserts. Those did me in. The lunch lasted three hours and, needless to say, no dinner followed later, as we were completely full, bite-size portions notwithstanding.
Honfleur is a lovely lively town. We were sorry to leave it behind, but the next stop of our journey was beckoning. We were heading to Saint Malo.
Should have stayed at Honfleur.
Saint Malo is a walled town, which sounds good except that it was occupied by Germans during World War Two and they destroyed about 80% of the buildings when forced to retreat. So it was rebuilt out of grey stone and grey concrete with no charm, no other color, no ornamental facades, not even flowers! It felt like a fortress – ominous and gloomy. What exacerbated the feeling was our hotel, where the room was austere and abut 30 sq. feet, shower included. I did ask for a room with a sea view and got to see a patch of water over the roofs of the buildings in front of our mansard window.
What’s wrong with Mr. Fodor? Why did he mark this town with a coveted Fodor’s choice star?
We left the room to watch the sunset from the ramparts and it was glorious – the flaming sun was the only color on this grey island!
In the sea ahead of us, we saw a couple of Alcatraz-looking islands, indeed, one of them housing the grave of Messier Chateaubriand, and the other – military barracks complete with a jail. Both islands are only reachable from the land via a causeway during low tide. I could just see the Count de Monte Cristo imprisoned on one such island!

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