A French Christmas #3: nantes then northbound

The first adventure of the day was another trip into the centre of Nantes. This time we headed to the famous Île de Nantes that sits in the centre of the river Loire. We caught the tram from the stop called Plaisance (after turning down a few wrong streets eh Léa? 😉 ) down into the centre. After crossing a bridge onto the island, we arrived at one of Nantes most famous attractions. Every year the city commissions artists and similar folk to create works or attractions across the city and it is a very popular.’Les Machines de L’Île’ started as an idea for one of these summers and has turned out to be a permanent feature. It was started on the old docks and the warehouses are still used in both summer and winter for shows and other displays in the afternoons. 

(This is the link if ya wanna see it in full: http://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/en/ )

The best way to show you it, from our walk around, is the pictures I took. I have to say, the elephant was just huuuuuge. 

We also walked further along the side of the docks, passing a gigantic crane, and seeing another feature which is a set of rings that run down one long side of the barriers by the river. It was time to head back to the city as Léa’s dad was picking us up for our two hour drive north to visit another set of grandparents. As we were crossing the bridge I heard Léa say “oh that’s our tram” making it’s away towards the tram stop 100 metres from us. 

“Shall we run?” 

“LET’S DO IT.” (obvs me embracing the thrills in life)

Of course there was a set of traffic lights between the tram stop and us… but with luck on our side and completely embracing the concept the j-walking, we ran across it as cars zoomed towards us and managed to make the tram. I think I saw the tram driver look a little amused by our little sprint and took pity by waiting those vital few seconds for us. 

Well, what’s life without a bit of excitement? Hehe. 

We walked through the streets on the western side, stopped at a famous bakery for an éclair and pain au chocolat, and headed up to our meeting point. Fabulous. We also passed through la Passage Pomeraye that was so picturesque with it’s blue Christmas trees and lights. 

Again, more pictures 😀

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Just after 2:30pm we were on the motorway heading north to Rennes then towards Saint-Brieuc for one more Christmas feast and to see Léa’s Grandpa and [same] Uncle [& fam]. The journey ended up taking about three hours. We also stopped by the seaside to take a short walk along the promenade and breathe in the fresh salty air. The Grandparents house was like a cottage in a fairytale movie. It looked adorable. 15801013_10153872304656706_1974967493_n

We unpacked, changed into “fancier” clothing and headed downstairs. Soon enough, the appetisers appeared, then we seated ourselves for dinner, and to tell you the truth… Léa kept saying “oh, wait for boxing day, that’s going to be the feast” and I kept thinking “Pah, woman how can you have more than five courses!?” 

Oh boy, oh boy: I was wrong

People. If you ever have the pleasure of being invited for a French Christmas, prepare yourselves. Your willpower will be tested and I suggest you were stretchy jeans and not a tight skirt…. unlike one silly blonde girl… 😀 

From the first appetiser to dessert, it was awesome. 

To start, we had mackerel pâté with gingerbread cake, smoked salmon with cream cheese on a macaroon and a ‘cocktail’ of mussels, prawns, tomato and scallops. Is your mouth drooling yet? Mine was.

The second course was oysters. I had three (I didn’t want to let you down mother [she loves oysters]) while the three men of the family [coincidentally all related] devoured atleast ten each. This was served with a light white wine. 

Third course: fois gras with fig and more gingerbread cake, also served with bread and a sweet white wine. 

Fourth course: chapón (basically a chicken that is actually a cockerel which is the same animal but just a little bigger and has male parts [I’m typing this following Léa’s and my short but stubborn argument in Spanish]) with beautifully soft potatoes and sweetened water chestnuts. Our drinks changed to red wine from this course onwards.

“Oh, what about dessert and cheese?, you ask”

That’s right folks. This dinner was longer than five courses. 

The fifth course included four strong cheeses and bread. Having overshot on the first four, I took it easy on this course and had a nibble on the goats cheese. It was fresh and delicious. 

Last but not least, the dessert arrived as our sixth course. My stomach suddenly seemed to jump into action at the two ice cream logs placed before us and I was able to devour a slice of each. The first is chocolate and caramel, and the other mango and raspberry. 

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While the French chatted away downstairs and Lisa messaged her family, I was asleep first. Shattered, very well fed and in a sweet slumber.


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