After a few quiet hours in the hotel, we were ready to head out to the beach to watch the sunset - after picking up a pair of pink felt slippers for Mom, and a dinner of Mamie Nova cérises griottes yogurt (outstanding stuff), rhubarb-apple sauce (also outstanding), and a baguette (unfortunately, mediocre) for both of us. We ate at a bench near the beach, then took off our shoes to walk on the fine-grained, super-soft sand and stick our toes in the ocean. It was still quite light when we got there, but we were patient and watched the sun dip below the horizon for my first sunset over the Atlantic.
Shades of aqua quietly gave way to baby blues and salmons over the hundreds of masts in the marina.
The beach was fairly empty, and we appreciated the peace and quiet after a hustling, bustling morning. After the sun had gone down, we started heading back into town, admiring the effect of the soft gloaming light over the city.
On the way back, we passed Ernest le Glacier, an artisanal ice cream shop that puts Baskin-Robbins' 31 flavors to shame with over ninety flavors including spéculoos (Belgian gingersnaps), carotte-gingembre (carrot-ginger), and coquelicot (poppy). I opted for two boules: cara-sel (an abbreviation of caramel-fleur de sel, or sea salt caramel) and gianduja (hazelnut-chocolate).
Oh là là. The gianduja had big, bold chocolate and hazelnut flavor - an ideal frozen nutella, super delicious and addictive. But it was the cara-sel that stole the show. The salt really piqued the sides of the tongue, while the deep, dark, sugary caramel coated the rest - magnifique.
I savored my ice cream as we walked along the pier back to the hotel, soaking in the cerulean sky and harbor as pale yellow reflections shimmied across the water.
Hello September - where did you come from???
The next morning started just as brilliantly as the evening before had ended, with a sunrise from our hotel window.
We had a few hours before our train to Tours, and we wanted to get to the market again. I bought myself a bag of fleur de sel from Ile de Ré as a souvenir, and we got a yellow pepper and a baguette for snacking on train.
We didn't buy any oysters, but had we wanted to, there were many, many choices.
It may be September now, but summer's bounty was still in full force.
And just when we thought we were done, I found the gâches vendéennes:
Hello, beautifuls. A gâche vendéenne is a viennoiserie (essentially, a sweet bread-like pastry, as opposed to pâtisserie, standard pastry that is not bread-like) similar to a brioche, but hailing from the Vendée département, just north of La Rochelle. I chose a mini gâche vendéenne aux pommes:
It was a small ball of dough topped with a golden egg wash. The dough was sweet with a fluffy crumb, and there were a few pockets of apple-cinnamon compote dotted throughout. It was nice, but nothing particularly special.
Back at the hotel, we finished packing and left for the train station around noon to head to Tours for the penultimate leg of our journey.
Coming soon: Our first evening in Tours, featuring (unfortunately) perhaps the most disappointing meal I had during my trip.