At the Seaside, Between Buttery Cookies and the Beach with a Touch of Family Drama

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There are times when it’s awfully inconvenient to believe in democracy.

Three days after arriving in Nantes, the idea of spending a few days at the beach started to float around, but I was adamant I wasn’t going anywhere yet.

“We spent a week in Toronto, then we came back to Ottawa, packed, flew to Paris, and we finally just got there! Can’t we just… wait?”

The first couple of days were dedicated to spending hours talking about various financial and practical issues with my mom, getting a haircut and going to the dentist for my yearly checkup. Not exactly fun or relaxing activities. Besides, it’s not just “going to the beach,” it’s “going to the beach and staying in the family house that’s falling apart” and “other relatives will be here too.” It’s… complicated.

But a heat wave was forecast and Feng was hoping it would be cooler on the coast. Mark was dying to go to the beach. My mom was finally on holiday and she needed a break from Nantes.

I’m not a killjoy, it’s just that a family trip to the family house comes with fine print you can’t even imagine and logistical issues you wouldn’t suspect.

“Coming tomorrow.”

“How?”

“Walking. Nah, just kidding, Feng rented a car,” I texted my aunt who was also on her way from Paris with her husband and a cat. “Should be fine, there’s enough room for all of us.”

“One of the rooms is the cat’s room.”

“??””

“Yeah, the cat needs a bedroom otherwise it wakes me up.”

“Human ≥ cat. I’m taking the bedroom.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling. Alone or with Feng, it’s easy. We can make it work with Mark. But add my mom and a bunch of pets and relatives and it’s complete chaos. The alternative to renting a car was to take the train to the nearest seaside town, Pornic or Saint Nazaire, then hopefully connect with a local bus service. The short—by Canadian standards– 75-kilometre trip could take hours.

“Ready! Now we just have to catch the cat. Hold the bag, I’ll grab it, it’s hiding in the closet.”

By car, the trip only took an hour. I braced myself for the rest—that was the easy part. For instance, my grandparents no longer come and no one lives in the house full-time so it’s in bad shape and pretty dirty.

“Let me introduce you to Riri, Fifi and Loulou.”

“Huh?”

“The three spiders you’re about to stare at while you’re taking your shower.”

Also, nothing works as it should.

“Please don’t tell me that there’s no…”

“…hot water. Because the hot water system is also connected to the radiator so we don’t just heat water but the whole house and it’s like 40⁰C already.”

And then there are the many, many trips to the supermarket, the bakery and other local food providers who may or may not have what they are supposed to sell.

“Sorry, no bread.”

“Why?”

“… the bakery apparently decided not to bake bread today.”

But between family drama and minor inconveniences, there was the beach, a light breeze, midnight dinners, steamed mussels and grilled meat, long walks on the beach, and other fun parts of a family holiday.

We didn’t escape from major drama which is basically the theme this summer. But we did relax a bit.

In the car to Saint-Michel

In the car to Saint-Michel

In the car to Saint-Michel

In the car to Saint-Michel

In the car to Saint-Michel

In the car to Saint-Michel

Biscuits L'Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L’Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L'Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L’Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L'Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L’Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L'Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L’Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L'Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Biscuits L’Atelier St Michel, Saint-Michel

Saint-Michel

Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Tharon Plage

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Along the beach walkway in Saint-Michel

Chichis (fried dough sticks) in Tharon

Chichis (fried dough sticks) in Tharon

Candies in Tharon

Candies in Tharon

Chichis (fried dough sticks) in Tharon

Chichis (fried dough sticks) in Tharon

Tharon Plage

Tharon Plage

Extreme heat warning in Tharon

Extreme heat warning in Tharon

Tharon Plage

Tharon Plage

Tharon Plage

Tharon Plage

Beachfront house in Tharon

Beachfront house in Tharon

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Tharon Plage beach

Saint-Michel harbour

Saint-Michel harbour

Tharon Plage from the harbour

Tharon Plage from the harbour

Saint-Michel's lighthouse

Saint-Michel’s lighthouse

Saint-Michel's lighthouse

Saint-Michel’s lighthouse

Saint-Michel's lighthouse

Saint-Michel’s lighthouse

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Saint-Michel beach

Sunset on Saint-Michel's beach

Sunset on Saint-Michel’s beach

Sunset on Tharon Plage beach

Sunset on Tharon Plage beach

Sunset on Saint-Michel beach

Sunset on Saint-Michel beach

Mussels and herbs dinner in the family home, Saint-Michel

Mussels and herbs dinner in the family home, Saint-Michel

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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.

8 Comments

  1. Cecile Puertas on

    Magnifiques photos de cette partie de la côte Atlantique que je ne connais pas du tout !
    J’ai des amis qui vivent à Pornic et qui vantent souvent la douceur du climat et le charme de cette région. Et d’autres qui ont un appartement de vacances à Arzon, ça a l’air top ! Il faudra qu’on y aille un jour !
    Profitez bien et chouchoute bien ta maman qui en a sûrement fort besoin dans cette période encore difficile.

    • Pornic is a really nice little town. I’ve always liked it! I used to beg whoever was shopping in Pornic to take me with them (Pornic is about 15 km from Saint Michel, which is a long way when you’re a teen and only have a bike! :lol:)

  2. I love that you have shorts tan line!
    And at least you get to eat good food while dealing with the family drama?
    Sorry this is turning out to be such a tough year and exhausting vacation. You can do it 😉

    • Oh yeah, I have my daily bakery visits and plenty of great food 🙂 It’s still a very enjoyable French holiday, just tougher emotionally.

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