- Le Veillon
- ile de Re for 4 nights
Elaine’s 200 word French vocabulary specialises in ordering bakery items, apologising for being in the way and asking directions to the toilet. We were therefore entering uncharted linguistic territory when we needed to take the van into a garage to have the brakes checked over.
The garage manager, Monsieur Giraud, had just about as many English words as we had French. He took great pleasure in saying something in broken English and Elaine would reply with slightly less pleasure in very broken French. By unspoken mutual consent he and Elaine had each agreed to work in the language they had least capability in. And surprisingly they managed to negotiate a diagnosis, quote and booking for the following Tuesday.
With Monsieur Giraud’s words ringing in our ears
‘ it is not dangerous but please to give special consideration to make the brake’
… we headed off to the ile de Re to wait for Tuesday to come round.
On the way we stopped off at the west coast beach of Le Veillon for the night. It was beautiful and the dry bush in the surrounding dunes reminded us of some of our favourite wild beaches in Australia. Although we had to remind ourselves that this is low season and in the summer it would be a much busier place.
Just off the west Atlantic coast of France, the ile de Re is a very tidy and tastefully developed holiday island that would be grid locked in summer. But by October the green shutters of these Parisian holiday homes were firmly closed and the place was very quiet.
Luckily a few cafes and shops remained open including one of the four cycle hire shops in our local village, Le Bois-Plage-en-Re. So we spent a couple of days exploring the Island.
We were pretty sure the villages had been quite self consciously Mediterraneanised. Though only a stones throw from the Loire Valley where villages and towns were constructed in higgle-de-piggle-de limestone, the cottages here were white washed, with terracotta roofs. Still they were very pretty and separated by low scrubby forests, vineyards and salt pans, the island being in a large part reclaimed marsh land.
While enjoying a well earned pastry in a village square we notice something we had been hearing throughout rural France.
The church clock would strike each hour but then restrike the hour a few moments later. When we heard this in Normandy we thought there were two churches close together and slightly out of sync. But now we were certain there was only one church striking the hour twice within a few minutes. Dave consulted with a lovely 3 generation French family who were camping next to us in the campsite in the centre of the village. A family conference couldn’t provide an answer although they did tell us in rather good English that the bells always ring three minutes apart. A quick google provided no more information although we did find a blog by a similarly bemused fellow Australian which is a good read.
So we ended up having 4 nights in the same spot – our longest stay anywhere since March, when we hauled up in Plimerton in New Zealand (excluding interludes in Shoreham with family). We clocked up our 10th month of travel while we were here so to celebrate Dave decided it was time to do some washing……
…whether his clothes needed it or not 😂.