Matt and Kaitlyn flew back to London on Friday, and since then Nick and I have been trying to get out of “holiday mode” and into a more settled routine. So, less eating out and more cleaning basically! That didn’t stop us from once again prioritising wine and bottled shandy on our shopping trip today, but at least we had the foresight to take a backpack as well, which we stuffed with more sensible purchases.
After a week in La Rochelle, we’ve decided it’s time to leave: not only have we reached the point where we would naturally want to visit somewhere new, I’ve also come to the conclusion that this place is cursed. Not that we aren’t having a lovely time! We couldn’t be happier. La Rochelle is one of my favourite places in France. But first we took a hunk of hull out of the boat, then Nick lost his rather pricey Ray Bans over the side while doing the repairs (that brings out total value of items lost over the side or broken to roughly £400 thus far- not something we’d factored into our budget calculations). He was sufficiently pissed off to don a snorkelling mask and flippers and go diving under the boat in the foul marina water, but came up empty. Finally- I hope- this afternoon Nick went for a tumble on his bike, taking a couple of chunks of skin out of his ankle. I was sitting in the laundrette, reading my book and waiting for Nick to return from his trip to the chandlery (which was closed anyway, as it turned out), when he limped in looking rather sorry for himself, trailing blood all over the floor and announced that he’d clipped a curb and went flying. This latest injury is on top of hurting his back a few days ago, so he’s a bit of a mess at the moment. On top of all that, we’ve had thunderstorms over the weekend and 5am this morning found us closing all the hatches we’d left open, bringing in our belongings we’d left outside, and mopping up puddles of rainwater. So, on balance, time to leave.
Tomorrow we head to Ile de Rè to begin the journey north. We’ve struggled with the decision of whether to stay in France over winter, or to bring the boat back to the UK, and in the end we’ve decided that despite the fact that it would be so much more convenient to leave the boat here and continue south next spring, we’re never going to feel comfortable abandoning the boat to an unknown marina for 3 months while we’re in Australia. In Conyer, we’re friends with everyone in the marina and so worst case scenario, we have people near the boat we can rely on if it needs any attention. Therefore, tomorrow we begin sailing back towards southern Brittany.
Despite not being overly impressed with La Rochelle marina, which is a monstrous 3000 berth port, the biggest on the west coast of France, we adore La Rochelle itself. We’ve walked or cycled into town every day to attend the impressive daily market, which we’ve come to realise is a massive rip off despite (or probably because of) it’s lively, bustling atmosphere. A promenade of brasseries and restaurants wraps itself around another, smaller marina, behind which lies a maze of charming streets full of shops, glaciers, bars and yet more restaurants. On a busy weekday we’ve been unable to ride through the throngs of people in the pedestrianised areas, having to dismount and make our way through the crowds on foot. In the evening we’ve been drawn towards the northern side of the harbour which boasts a wide tree-lined footpath full of market stalls selling jewellery, paintings and sweets. We’ve only eaten out a couple of times while Matt and Kaitlyn were here, preferring to cook our own food from the impressive produce found in the market, but I’m insisting we return to a small restaurant we found in the backstreets on Matt and Kaitlyn’s last night on account of their chorizo and cream moules frites. I do consider myself to be something of a moules frites expert nowadays, and this particular dish has the honour of being the very best moules I’ve ever eaten. Ever.