Moules

With fond farewells to our new friends at the camp ground in Royan, we were on the road ready to spend the day visiting sights.  First stop was Brouage. But of course we could not go there directly, on the way we had a few stops, first was to get a postcard or two for the grandchildren (we hope they are appreciating them!), then to find a Boulangerie for bread, then we started to pass oyster farm after oyster farm… you don’t have to get out the crystal ball to figure out where the next stop was.

huitresTypical small business alongside the canals and road selling oysters.(stopped at this one cos he had a nice familiar name!)

storageBeside the shed was this holding tank with oysters in crates.  This one could hold about 96 crates in a single layer.

oystersCrates of oysters

palourdesOysters and Palourdes, a type of small clam.  The oysters are sold by weight and graded by size and quality.

moules 3Crates of mussels

Thus sufficiently loaded with fresh oysters  for Roy’s dinner tonight, we were on our way to Brouage.

When Brouage was founded in 1555 it stood on the sea and was an important place of commerce and trade, thus it was heavily fortified.   Now the sea is some miles away as a result of the marshes being reclaimed during the 18th Century.  We parked outside one of the main entrances and walked in through the 10metre deep entrance. The fortress is shaped as a hexagon with a three pointed star at each of the corners.   This provides cross fire defence all round.  The walls are remarkably well preserved as are the small “beehive” like turrets at each of the points of the stars. 

entranceThe entrance gate over 10 metres deep with three portcullis gates within it .

main street 2Main street within the walls, obviously quiet at lunch time, on Saturday during winter.

main streetNo busier looking toward the other end

tower“Beehive” lookout at the point of each star

cornerView into a “Beehive” from the top of the wall

slitFiring slit from within the “Beehive”

viewView from the firing slit in the “Beehive”.  The area below is now used by oyster and mussel farmers.  This was once the thriving harbour. The sea is now in the far distance.

 broag Walls from outside

Inside, the village is just beautiful, in the summer it must be a thriving little town.  We wandered through enjoying looking around, buying a postcard or two plus an oyster opening knife for Roy’s dinner tonight.   It was apparent that the town claimed a Canadian connection.  Finally found this monument to Champlain, a resident, who founded Quebec.

champ

Of course we realised that by now it is lunchtime (yes, shops were shutting!).

wicker workAlso found a shop selling basketry and were intrigued by this creation, about 75cm long

So off to have some lunch.  And today’s speciality was of course Moules or Mussels.  They are totally unlike NZ mussels, for one they are black, and they are tiny, not much bigger than the first two joints of Bernice’s little finger, but oh my goodness are they ever sweet and tender. To wash down the moules, we had a glass each of the local Pineau, blanc and rouge. Delicious.

snow 2 Snow awaiting lunch

moules 2Local Mussels

moules  Bernice enjoying Moules and Frites.

snow 1Snow enjoying Pineau

 

roadThe road out of Brouage along a narrow strip between tidal drains with lots of ponds on either side.

Also spotted on this road was an interesting type of gate.  This was completely different and I guess is the local equivalent to a Taranaki gate.  It consists of three poles, each attached at the hinge end to a to an eye bolt using a large ring screw.   This allows lifting and swinging of the pole.  At the closing end there are three metal rests on which the poles sit when closed.  Each of these rests ends with an eye through which is threaded a locking pin.  Whilst looking as old as the hills they are still being used.

gate 3Attachment of the pole

gate 6Pole rests and locking pin.  Note that this pole has no fence on the other side.  It is situated across a land bridge between two paddocks and as the paddock is bounded by deep drains there is no need for fencing just gates.

gate 4Gate with one pole shut

On to  Rochefort to check out the maritime arsenal there constructed in 1666. On the approach to Rochefort we came across these two bridges.  The more modern one we had to cross.

bridge 2

The second viewed from it was further along the river.  This bridge operated by having a carriage (a section of road) suspended from the upper gantry.  Vehicles are driven onto the carriage and then the carriage is moved by the gantry across the river.

bridge 1

Onto the arsenal, where we then proceeded to find the dry dock and rope walk.  The main buildings were used up until the early 1920’s and since then the site has been restored along the banks of the Charente River.  The main building is the Corderie Royale, the royal rope making works.

corderie  The Corderie building

Next to it are two massive dry docks, one of which is currently being used to construct a replica of the Hermione an 18th century wooden frigate, according to the original plans.  Sorry Dad, we did not get in to see it as they wanted to charge us 15 Euro each for the pleasure. 

dry dockThe end of the dry dock

dry dock 1The opening lock, the covered area to the right side is the second dry dock within which they are building the replica.  They are using techniques and tools that would have been used originally.

cone tree 1Topiary tree cone in the gardens above the Corderie

On the way back to the carpark we saw this gated house

napolean 2

napolean 1 Then found this plaque.  Wherever Napoleon went in France there is at least a plaque and often a preserved structure.

Of course opposite was an even more important notice

roy

From here it was on to Fouras, located on the sea and the site of a large fort.

fort fouras 2Fort Vauban at Fouras.  This is the land end of a series of forts across the estuary mouth.  There are two others one on an island and the other in the sea built on foundations created for the fort.  That one was hard to see as there was rain all around and strong wind whipping up spray.

On the walk from the carpark to the fort came across more examples of dip net fishing

dip 6View of a jetty built to allow dip netting a reasonable distance off shore

dip 5 Detail of the net

Further along spotted people out at the end of a breakwater fishing.  Then noticed a couple were not using rods.

dip 4They were in fact dip netting

dip 3

They had a specially designed clamp to hold the reel and the end of the crane like structure

dip 1

dip 2And then were able to reel the net up to check it.  This they did about every five  minutes so they got plenty of exercise.  In the twenty or so minutes I watched they caught one tiny fish about four centimetres long!!  The line fishermen were having more luck catching sprats up to 20cm.

By this time the weather had packed in with the rain starting to be a real pest so it was off to La Rochelle and to find a camp site.

La Rochelle was one of France’s foremost seaports from the 14th to the 17th centuries.  It now has one of France’s largest marinas so we will be heading to the Vieux Port for a tour in the morning.

Oh and what happened to those Oysters?

 dinner 2 After being carefully opened…

dinner 1…they formed part of a delicious dinner.  Roy had the oysters and Bernice the terrines and salad,  with fresh bread and Pineau.

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One Response to “Moules”

  1. Bill- Estelle Says:

    You are getting to see a lot of interesting places and making us very envious. Really enjoy reading your daily manoeuvres. Not alot of news apart from selling the motor home after we had a trip around the East coast.Numerous reasons why, but mainly bedding was uncomfortable and parking problems at home. Probably arrange for the mob to go out to tea prior to xmas.Keep enjoying your holiday.Can you make some comment in your daily updates confirming you have recd this email as not sure we have done this correctly regards Bill Estelle

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