Thursday, February 16, 2012

A few Coastal ‘Brittany Gems’ for all pockets .....


At the end of last week we drove to some of the coastal towns and villages in our area to meet up with local agents and keep ourselves up to date with what is happening in the property market there.

©Gratien Jean-Patrick
Now we know anywhere close to the sea is wonderful but we are particularly fond of our rugged coastline and the many small villages and hamlets that nestle in the secluded bays of the ‘Pink Granite Coast’ and the ‘Emerald Coast’ and we love spending time discovering more of them.  It was a lovely day!

©Spiegehalter Erich
Now it goes without saying (and yes even in Brittany) that properties with coastal locations and especially those with sea views command a premium price – everybody wants one – its not hard to understand why!  However, our time with the agents and some time spent researching the many private sales in the area  has suggested that is still possible to find what would represent excellent value for all budgets – you have to know where to look though and really understand the local market so that you are not seduced into paying over the odds to a vendor ‘tyring his luck’ with the foreign market.

Here are a few properties we found last week ......

€65,000 - 1 bed renovated fishermans cottage –                        
2 min walk to the sea

€95,000 – 2 bed renovation project –                                                 
with a large garden and 5 min walk to the sea

€114,000 – 2 bed house in need of some TLC                                      
2 min walk to the sea

€149,500 – 4 bed recent family house -                                                  
centre of a pretty coastal town – close to the port

€176,000 – Possible 5 bed renovation project -                                  
Remote location but sea views

€224,000 – 3 bed breton family house -                                       
with estuary views

€275,000 – 4 bed Neo Breton family house -                                    
overlooking town and beaches

€385,000 – Fully renovated and immaculate 3 beds - overlooking port and harbour

and for those with a slightly larger budget – or for those who dream like us ...........

€1,325,000 – 7 bed immaculate house with a massive - 270 sqm living space and a 70 sqm terrace overlooking the sea

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Even macaroons get better in France on St Valentines Day......

It’s a relatively simple confection made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites but the macaroon has over the years become the cookie of choice throughout France.  

They are delicious and come in as many colours and flavours as your imagination can muster. 

But today, St Valentines day, here in St Malo they take on a romantic twist with the usual round varieties being replaced by heart shaped and raspberry filled deliciousness.

We might not have had roses this morning but we will most definately enjoy one of these which is sitting quite temptingly in our fridge as we write this ......

Happy St Valentines Day ......

Monday, February 13, 2012

It was a triumph ........

A glass of wine before your "very hot bath" Monsieur Langoustine

Now that we’ve had a day to recover from the effects of the dinner party on Saturday night we can report on how it went.  I think it is safe to say that it was a triumph – and possibly one of the best we have had.

Our guests all arrived on time (with the appropriate bags full of bottles of wine) and the frivolities began almost immediately, helped along by several glasses of something chilled and sparkly!

Despite a menu which included several untested recipes and required a larger than usual amount of ‘a la minute’ preparation the food was fantastic (even though we say so ourselves) and appreciated by all concerned by the appropriate oohs and ahhs and gesticulations of absolute pleasure. There was even a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ moment from Benedicte when she tasted the dessert.

We were reliably informed by Amelie, our bar owning friend last night that Benedicte and Patric had been in earlier and had said that it was the best food they had ever had at a dinner party! How chuffed were we???. 

(Feel free to send a comment and I will be happy to send recipes to anyone interested.)

Most importantly for us the conversation (all french) flowed easily (with only minor stutterings and delvings into the dictionary).

How very different to the first dinner party we forced ourselves to host four years ago. 

Despite it being with Amelie and Benjamin, two of the nicest people you could wish to meet the propsect of cooking for a french couple in addition to an evening of conversation all in french terrified us (well me at least – Darren was taking everything much less seriously) - so much so that the food production was secondary in my preparation thoughts. 

The food was good but the hours spent with Google translate and my little black exercise book in the week prior paid great dividends.  I had prepared an endless list of appropriate conversation starters and possible replies to our guests responses – I think I must have sounded like a taxi driver or a hairdresser as I regulalry asked questions like ‘Have you been away on holiday this year?’, ‘Has the weather been good this year?’, ‘How has your business been this year?’, ‘How many bank holiday are there here in France?’, and ‘Which is the best restaurant in St Malo?’.  Whether or not I got the responses I wanted or indeed understood them I don’t know but I made a suitable contribution to the conversation and for me that was a great achievement.  Of course as the wine flowed my ability (or at least my perceived ability) improved enormously! I still have the little black book and we all still laugh about it now.

Over the last four years there have been many more dinner parties and many more guests and we have developed a good local reputation as great hosts. I think this time though the French conceded defeat and at the end of the evening took us to the bar for a victory coffee and calvados.  Does life get any better than that – yes – Darren had even done most of the washing up between courses so we returned to a clean kitchen as well!

Happy days ..........