The Lovely Coast and Coves of Préfailles (or The Art of a Family Trip)

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“Okay, so here is the deal: we are going to Préfailles—it’s a 60-minute drive from Nantes—and we will leave at 11:00 a.m. Disclaimer: I haven’t traveled with my parents since I was a kid, we’ve never been to Préfailles and we will most likely NOT leave at 11:00 a.m.”

Poor Feng… my family is fun, but with a self-proclaimed anarchist (my mum) and an artist (my dad), don’t expect a military operation plan. Like in Latin America, we are flexible people. Stuff gets done… eventually. It can be charming or infuriating, depending on how much you care about said stuff.

And so, eventually, we did lock the door of the apartment. It wasn’t 11 a.m. but 12:30 p.m. and my mum was annoyed with me because “I was rushing.”

We all manage to fit in the car, nicknamed “the white car” because none of us knows the make or the model. It’s just that old car my dad borrows from his parents and it’s a small miracle it’s still drivable. I think it came out of a French car factory back when the unemployment rate was below 5%.

“Wait: do we have enough gas?”

We did. I checked and double checked. Running out of gas was the number 1 reason why we never reached planned destination when I was a kid.

Mark complained it was too hot (precious snowflake apparently expected air-con), my dad had to be reminded not to smoke in the car and then we ran into a traffic jam. No surprise here: we weren’t the only city people heading to the coast on a hot Sunday in August.

My dad suggested a shortcut and my mum agreed. I froze: “shortcuts” often mean “shit-I-have-no-idea-where-we-are-now”. But amazingly, we ended up on the right route nationale and there was no traffic jam.

We negotiated about twenty-thousands roundabouts (a French spécialité) and at one point, we lost track of Préfailles. “Mum! Gimme your phone. There is a Goople Maps app with a GPS.” I love technology. I found Préfailles again and a few more roundabouts later, we were parking on what seemed to be the town’s main street.

“I don’t think there is a beach…” my dad said, worried.

“Sea!”

We could see the water at the end of the street.

“Oh… okay, then.”

The scenery was amazing. Deep blue sea, a few boat, rocky coves and small stretches of beach that probably vanish at high tide. We picked a spot and for a few hours, we did what we enjoyed most: Mark and my dad played in the cold water, Feng relaxed, my mum read a book and I went to explore the trails along the coast. We had baguette sandwiches with butter, cheese and tomatoes and I brought back cold drinks from the town.

In the evening, we decided to stop in Pornic, a bigger town popular with locals and tourists because of its casino, pretty harbour and medieval castle. The waterfront was packed with people buying ice creams and souvenirs, even that late in the evening.

A few more traffic jams later, we were back in Nantes, completely exhausted.

“So, did you like the family trip?” I asked Feng.

He looked at me, amazed. “How did you even end up backpacking in China at 16, considering your upbringing?”

I shrugged. “I did the opposite of what we usually did as a family.”

My parents and Mark

My parents and Mark

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Along the coast in Préfailles

Naturist beach along the coast

Naturist beach along the coast

The countryside, a couple of kilometers from the seaside

The countryside, a couple of kilometers from the seaside

The countryside, a couple of kilometers from the seaside

The countryside, a couple of kilometers from the seaside

Along the coast

Along the coast

Plage de Port-Meleu

Plage de Port-Meleu

Plage de Port-Meleu

Plage de Port-Meleu

Plage de Port-Meleu

Plage de Port-Meleu

Traditional beach villa along the coast

Traditional beach villa along the coast

In Préfailles' town centre

In Préfailles’ town centre

In Préfailles' town centre

In Préfailles’ town centre

Pornic

Pornic

Pornic's harbour

Pornic’s harbour

One of the most popular places in Pornic for ice cream

One of the most popular places in Pornic for ice cream

Postcards of Pornic

Postcards of Pornic

Souvenirs in Pornic

Souvenirs in Pornic

Souvenirs in Pornic

Souvenirs in Pornic

Souvenirs in Pornic

Souvenirs in Pornic

Swimsuits for sale

Swimsuits for sale

Breton galettes

Breton galettes

Sardines and canned fish

Sardines and canned fish

Sardines and canned fish

Sardines and canned fish

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

10 Comments

  1. I laughed at that: “How did you even end up backpacking in China at 16, considering your upbringing?”
    We used to take the nationales everywhere since my mum was scared of driving on the highway… It would take us a full day to go from Lorraine to Le Nord lol
    I don’t know about you but here when we go anywhere the problem comes from all the stuff we need! It’s crazy how much we packed going anywhere, even as 4 adults.
    The Scotsman turns it into an army exercise when we go somewhere like that lol Getting everyone packed and ready on schedule haha
    And I see where you got your great figure from 😉 You;ll have to tell me how you got your flat stomach back after kiddo if / when the time comes

    • My mum is super thin… and my sister is even thinner, she has a dancer body, which my mum and I don’t have. As for the flat stomach (not *that* flat…), I think I was lucky, it depends on how you carry the baby. Mark was super high, like right at my ribs, so I didn’t get any stretch marks on my stomach (I have some on my tights from my teenage years, though). I got my stomach back right after he was born, over… a week? I was shocked as well, actually.

      Changing topic… we used to take the nationales from Nantes to Paris to avoid paying the freeway fare. Takes forever!!

      • We once took the national from Lorraine to Brittany! I felt like I was going to die by the end of it!
        My mum is super thin and taller than me (really tall) but she kept a little pouch (she did have 3 kids mind you). I got my curves from my dad haha

  2. En regardant ces photos, je suis prise de nostalgie pour mes vacances d’été en France, même si à l’époque j’étais pas trop fan 😉 C’est vraiment dommage qu’on ne profite pas de ces moments quand on est ado! Mais c’est une bonne excuse pour les revivre comme adulte… ça me donne des idées….

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