Today was the very last proper day of our incredible culinary tour. We had a late start to the morning, with time to squeeze in a morning stroll to the beautiful walled city of St Malo, just meters away from the ship, and then we headed to the buses for a tour of the nearby village of Cancale.
Cancale is famous for its oysters, previously collected wild, but now farmed just off the coast. The incredible tidal range brings in floods of fresh, nutrient-rich water to the area, perfect for growing these unassuming little delicacies. Our bus wound through the agricultural outskirts of St Malo, through wheat fields and past vegetable gardens, with wild herbs like fennel finding space in the ditches between the bluebells. As we reached the coast, we had a glimpse of the famous Mont Saint-Michel, that magic medieval island, sitting on the horizon, amongst the mist and mud.
At the oyster tasting two varieties were served– the round, flat local Bretagne oyster, and the longer pacific oyster, imported from Japan to be cultivated in Cancale. After oysters and some nice local wine, we continued to the center of the village of Cancale for our second course - the local specialty of galettes and crepes.
For the uninitiated, the crepe is a very thin pancake, served with a sweet topping such as salted caramel, or, my favorite, cream of chestnut (crème de marron). A galette is similar – a thin pancake served with a topping – except that a traditional galette from Brittany will be made with buckwheat flour, which makes it a little sturdier than a crepe, and it is served with a savory topping, such as ham, mushrooms and cheese.
Our galettes were served with local apple cider and the crepes with strong black coffee, and we had some free time to wander around the town, admire the old stone houses and see the oyster beds, now exposed by the falling tide.
A scenic drive through the countryside took us back to the ship. The rising tide allowed us to exit the inner harbor at St Malo through the lock in the evening, with a beautiful view of the city as we left France and sailed for Portsmouth.