Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

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Traveling with Mark is undeniably easier now: no more milk bottles, no more diapers, fewer tantrums—he eats whatever is available, uses les toilettes (when we can find them!) and sulks for a few minutes when he is offended instead of crying. I would go as far as claiming he behaves pretty well for a 3.5-year-old kid immersed in a completely different culture and still somewhat jetlagged. Case in point: a woman congratulated us in the train on his behaviour. Our parenting skills approved by French strangers! Where is my long-awaited gold medal?

That said, one of the most rewarding differences between toddler Mark and “little boy Mark” is that he is fully aware of our travels and he enjoys them. He has an opinion and he is involved. He knows how to take the train and public transportation in general, he understands the concept of maps and he loves grabbing my camera to take pictures of what he likes (usually random dogs).

So this year, we decided to take side trips and explore the area a bit more. This is the perks of Europe, the next city is never very far. Besides, the SNCF has a good deal on tickets: for €45, up to five people enjoy unlimited trips for two consecutive days. Considering how expensive train tickets are these days, it’s a bargain.

Our first destination last Tuesday was Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, in Vendée, a 75-minute train ride south of Nantes. The seaside resort/fishing harbour is very cute with narrow streets, plenty of oh-so-typical shops and a faint grilled sardine smell floating in the air (a local specialty).

I was surprised to see so many tourists strolling around on a weekday. Even the grande plage was busy despite the chilly water temperature (15ºC according to the lifeguards!).

“This is another département,” I explained Feng. “We are in Vendée, Nantes is in Loire-Atlantique. The culture here is vendéenne, Nantes is more into Breton culture by default.”

Feng looked at me, puzzled. “Er… what’s the difference, exactly? People look exactly the same.”

“There is a rivalry between la Vendée and la Bretagne,” I shrugged. “Nantes is stuck in between. It used to be part of Brittany but it became a regional capital during WWII.”

“Meh. You guys all eat crêpes and bread!”

I couldn’t argue with that.

Nantes' train station

Nantes’ train station

Train station in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Train station in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Baguette vending machine in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Baguette vending machine in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

"Please don't touch the fruits" (a French pet peeve)

“Please don’t touch the fruits” (a French pet peeve)

It's cantaloupe season! A local favourite

It’s cantaloupe season! A local favourite

Buskers making balloons for kids

Buskers making balloons for kids

Gian Nutella jar and waffles at the market

Gian Nutella jar and waffles at the market

Mark discovering mussels

Mark discovering mussels

Mussels and sea spiders at the market

Mussels and sea spiders at the market

Mark-doing-the-monster eating a ham-and-cheese panini

Mark-doing-the-monster eating a ham-and-cheese panini

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Pier in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Pier in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Pier in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Pier in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Harbour of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Harbour of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Beach chairs on the beach

Beach chairs on the beach

Surf school on the beach

Surf school on the beach

Water temperature: a chilly 15C

Water temperature: a chilly 15C

Mussels and fries on the beach

Mussels and fries on the beach

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Portrait from Mark

Portrait from Mark

Along the grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Along the grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Along the grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Along the grande plage in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Traditional carousel by the harbour

Traditional carousel by the harbour

Seagulls souvenir key chains

Seagulls souvenir key chains

In the train back to Nantes

In the train back to Nantes

In the train back to Nantes

In the train back to Nantes

In the train back to Nantes

In the train back to Nantes

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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.

11 Comments

    • No, never! Just this blog 🙂 I do appreciate your support, though, it’s rewarding to see you are enjoying reading our adventures.

  1. “You guys all look the same anyway” haha
    We spent a couple of weeks there when I was a kid, I remember “la grande plage”. It’s great that you’re able to travel more now that Mark is older 🙂

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