There’s a quirky roundabout in the middle of the main street and it’s decorated with bizarre giant sculptures or structures celebrating a local tradition or specialty. Or, inexplicably, in Saint-Brevin-l’Océan, Scrabble letters. Note to self—consider the link between the town and the word board game (a big chunk of the population is probably between 70 and 90 years old and spends every winter playing Scrabble?)
You can buy overpriced chichis (small churros usually sold by the dozen and served in a paper cone), as well as waffles and crêpes. Typical filings include Nutella, sugar, rum or sea-salt caramel.
There are only two bakeries and they are both offering the same assortment of breads and pastries for the same price, yet one of them seems very popular and the other one is empty. There’s gotta be a reason why locals blatantly favour one of them but they won’t tell you why and you get a bit paranoid when you shop at the empty bakery.
There are kids catching crabs and shrimps at low tide. Few parents will actually eat the catch of the day, the content of the plastic bucket is usually dumped back into the sea. This is done more or less stealthily depending on how old the kids are and how long it took them to catch two shrimps “for dinner”.
There’s a souvenir shop selling the famous bol-prénom Breton. These personalized two-handle bowls usually feature a traditional scene, like a Breton and Bretonne dancing hand in hand. If you have a common enough French name you’ll find the perfect match. If not, blame your parents.
Other popular souvenirs include sea salt collected in Guérande, traditional Breton desserts (Kouign–amann, or bread dough with layers of butter) and butter cookies.
You can find shade under the ubiquitous and picturesque fishing huts on stilts on the beach.
At low tide, you sink into mud. It’s deliciously disgusting and you make fun of tourists who pay big bucks for mud wraps at the local spa.
On weekends, there’s always a Fête de la moule (“mussels party”) somewhere. Technically, you don’t really “celebrate” mussels, you just head to the main public square or the harbour and share a cheap meal of mussels cooked in white wine, fries and beer. Some locals don’t like mussels or fries and just drink beer from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., which is perfectly acceptable—you gotta embrace dietary preferences, right?
There are zero vendors on the beach—if you want a drink or a snack, you have to walk back to town. However, every hour or so, a sound truck drives along the beach road to advertise the latest circus in town. Airplanes flying giant banner ads are also common.
Happy heat wave, everyone!