Morbihan in Brittany

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We were suffering from spring fatigue, so decided to plan some days off, to relax and regenerate. With the weather being unpredictable, we decided against booking a flight. We went for the South of Brittany in France, and booked a hotel for which we could change dates or cancel without cost. We tried to find an affordable hotel that offered wellness. We found a great deal at “Miramar Crouesty Hotel Thalasso and Spa” in the Gulf of Morbihan, where we could stay in a standard room for three nights for only 475,20 euro, with free access to the Spa area. Breakfast was not included though. It was when we arrived that we realised that this was really an unbeatable deal! The hotel, which looks like a cruise ship from the outside,  has been completely refurbished. The concierge gave us a tour of the hotel, before showing us our room.

The room looked really great, with a marvelous balcony, a beautiful bathroom, complementary bath robes and slippers, free tea and (Nespresso) coffee, and a daily complementary bottle of water. The room is cleaned and tidied twice a day. In the early evening beds are made, offering a bed time chocolate. In the basement is the Thalasso Spa area, and  the ocean spa area, with a large whirlpool with different massage areas, and a hammam/steam room. On the second floor you find a pool table and a second steam room with experience shower.

In the middle of the hotel on the ground floor you find a “quiet area” with sofas, board games and a computer corner. The hotel has an indoor swimming pool on the top floor with an adjoining whirlpool. On the same floor you find two restaurants; the regular “Safran” restaurant and a diet restaurant. On the other side of the swimming pool is a bar. And at the far end, a fitness room. Restaurant, bar, swimming pool and fitness room all have large windows looking out over the surrounding nature and the sea. The first evening guests are welcomed in the lounge for a free cocktail with finger food. We immediately felt pampered and well cared for.

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We went out for dinner the first evening to the harbour just 50 metres away. It was clearly still low season, with only one seafood restaurant open. Luckily the restaurant “Le Cap Horn” had good reviews. The restaurant is decorated in a harbour theme, and is warm and cosy. The restaurant was quite full, but we could still get a table for two. We ordered twelve oysters from the Gulf of Morbihan, and grilled sea bass as main course. The oysters were good but not extra-ordinary, the sea bass fresh and well served.

After a good nights rest (the insulation of the rooms very good, the beds large and very comfortable), we started our day with a fresh coffee in our room. The weather looked dreary and rainy. So we headed to Vannes, to discover the small city and have a brunch. The walled old city has nice half-timbered houses. Not many places were open, so we entered “Le Quatre” on the central square in the old part of town. It is a decent place for a coffee or a lunch. We bought some typical Kouign-Aman in different flavors at  “Larnicol” for our breakfast the next morning.

We decided to have a look at the Séné marsh in the Gulf of Morbihan, an extraordinary, long, fragile finger of stones extending into the Channel, and a well-protected nature-reserve. We took a walk to the farthest end where there is a bird spotting hut, but the rain had all the birds in hiding.

We decided to enjoy the wellness area of the hotel instead. We had taken a dive in the pool the evening before so we headed to the Oceanic spa area. We enjoyed the steam room but were not very impressed with the massage areas in the whirlpool. We stopped over and had fun in the experience shower, but the hamam on the second floor had seen better times so we went for a some relaxing by the side of the pool.

Since we did not wish to venture out, we revisited the restaurant “Le Cap Horn” that evening, this time trying oysters, clams, mussels and scallops. Apart from the “andouille” that I found under my grilled scallops, the food was faultless. I asked for the andouille to be taken away because the smell was for me unbearable. I had coffee with sweets and my husband took a brown rum to finish it off.

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The next morning we were welcomed by the sun and after enjoying our breakfast of Kouing and coffee, headed towards Carnac. There we visited the largest megalithic site in the world. Over 2,800 standing stones, erected in around 4500 BC, the stones are lined up over 4 km and 40 hectares in Carnac. In winter until the end of March, they can be freely accessed. In summer you can only walk between them on a guided visit. This is for preservation and conservation purposes. The alignments here were erected during the Neolithic period by communities that had settled in the area between 5000BC and 2000BC. Some people do not seem to understand the importance of these sites, and just climb on these age old artefacts, as if it were any kind of rock. It seems only wise that in summer people cannot visit them unguided! Although the site is larger than Stonehenge, Stonehenge stays more impressive, because of the size of the rocks.

We headed to la Trinité sur Mer for lunch, and parked our car next to the harbour, where thousands of boats are moored. We took a coffee and a quiche in “La Chevillard” with views of the sea and the harbour. In a nearby bakery we bought a “Far Breton”, a typical custard pie with prunes to have for breakfast the next morning.

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We continued our trip and headed to the Quiberon peninsula. On the Western side, the 5 mile (8km)-long Côte Sauvage (wild coast) is the perfect place for getting back to nature via a bracing walk with spectacular views over the coast and Belle-Île. We parked our car near Pointe du Percho and made a walk along the coastline, with views of both sides. We continued towards Quiberon and stopped for a coffee in the bar of the “Sofitel hotel”.

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For dinner we stopped in Auray, on the way back. Auray is an attractive place that has retained the charm of an historic city with cobble-stone streets, half-timbered houses and its picturesque harbour. It was too early for dinner, so we made a walk through the old part of the harbour, and took the aperitif next to the water at the bar and restaurant “L’Armoric“, where it was a joy to sit in the sunshine like it was already the middle of summer.

We then crossed the bridge to have dinner at “TerreMer“. They boasted raving reviews online. The restaurant is very nicely decorated, the table beautifully set, the welcome very hospitable. We chose the menu TerreMere, at 37 euro for three courses. We both chose the mackerel as first course, the whiting filet as main course and the entremet pralin as dessert. We got two plates of appetizers, one little plate with a pastry with truffle cream and a spoon with wagyu beef and a second plate with crab on risotto. The kitchen deserves without any exaggeration a Michelin star! I could find no fault and all the plates are well balanced, novel in their preparation, using only the best and freshest ingredients.

We returned to the hotel for another good nights rest, and ate the “Far” as breakfast, which tasted really good. We had decided to make a stopover of one night in Honfleur, so before we checked out, took a walk along the seaside in front of the hotel. There is a nice walking path, starting on the beach and continuing into the dunes, with great views over the sea. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and the absence of other tourists.

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I was a bit annoyed when checking out when I noticed three sets of breakfasts had been added to our bill, which we never consumed. It was removed without an argument, but it should not have been added in the first place. It was the only negative moment in the three days we stayed there.

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We drove away from the free parking lot adjoining the hotel, looking forward to our stop in Honfleur. But first we wanted to enjoy the Gulf of the Morbihan a little bit more, so drove a bit North to Bourgneuf of Arzon, and made a great walk up the tip of Le Monteno, and Point de Penbert, with beautiful views over the small islands in the Gulf. Walking made us hungry so we had a salad and coffee at “Le Nausicaa“, on the terrace next to the bay in the sunshine. There is no better place to be when the sun is out!

In Honfleur we stayed at the same B&B, “Autour de la Rose” we stayed years ago on our previous visit of Honfleur. The B&B was still as before, with the same shabby chic flavour to it , and is just a five minute walk away from the centre of Honfleur. You can easily park your car in the street in front of the B&B.

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Don’t expect the comfort of a four star hotel, the walls are poorly insulated, but the charm is unbeatable, as is the price: 115 euro per night. And they bring a wonderful breakfast up to your room in the morning.

After some freshing up we walked to the harbour of Honfleur for dinner and chose the same restaurant as last time, which we had really enjoyed back then. The restaurant , “La Fleur de Sel” quickly packed, so we were happy to have come early. We chose the 32 euro menu, from which I chose the salmon, the pollack and the lemon tart as a dessert. We got an appetizer before and some sweets afterwards. The food was still very good, but after what we had enjoyed the evening before, hard to beat. But it is definitely one of the better addresses in Honfleur.

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The breakfast was glorious, and I enjoyed the croissant, bread, fresh orange juice, panna cotta and cake with coffee, still in my PJ’s! After checking out we first went to the Saturday market in Honfleur to buy some oysters and scallops straight from the producer “Laurent Macé“. (only 7 euro for 12 of the fattest oysters) You can’t go wrong! Just make sure you have something to keep them cool in your car. (we actually got some fresh shaved ice from the local supermarket!) Do not miss the beautiful wooden church on the Place St. Catherine. The ceiling looks like an upside down boat.

Not yet having decided if we were going to make a stopover along the way, we followed the advice of the owner of the B&B for a stop at Etretat, for a coffee and lunch and some refreshing sea breeze.

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We first parked our car on the top parking next to the chapel Notre-Dame de la Garde to enjoy the beautiful view over the coast and cliffs of Etretat. It was rather cold and rain was around the corner, so we drove back down and parked near the centre. We were lucky to have a table in the “Creperie Lann-Bihoué” to enjoy a typical pancake for lunch. I was not very hungry so went immediately for a sweet one with salted caramel sauce, my partner first took a galette (salty pancake) with ham and cheese, and a crepe (sweet pancake)  with salted caramel and apples after.  Just enough to get us home without getting hungry!

The next day we enjoyed our oysters and scallops which you can never buy that fresh here in Belgium! The oysters were fleshy and salty, the scallops heavenly! A good way to extend our holiday with an extra day at home!

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