After the bliss that was Huelgoat, our next destination was the Chateau de Launay, which was just on the outskirts of the tiny town of Méry Corbon just west of Caen.
When we booked the train tickets a few months ago, we didn’t realise just how small some of these train stations were, and that not all would have cab stands. The closest to Méry Corbon was the station at Mézidon, but according to the fine people down at the internet (shout out to Bob, who I always see online) there was no taxi stand, and the only taxi service in Mézidon didn’t take reservations online. We didn’t feel comfortable enough with our French (especially me) to call a cab in a small town, so we decided to add a ticket to our itinerary that would take us (after a 1/2 hour wait) from Mézidon to Caen, a rather large train station that had a taxi stand, and then hire a car to take us to Méry Corbon, at a cost of €7.50 each and the added bonus of first class for the 20 minute ride.
Sounded simple, Morlaix to Le Mans, to Mézidon, to Caen, to Méry Corbon. Each leg had a 1/2 hour wait between so there was plenty of time to get to the next train.
Morlaix to Le Mans was fairly smooth, except that I almost knocked some poor guy out with my 50 pound backpack. Apparently I whacked the gentleman right in the face unknowingly. I made a point of not wearing it while getting on and off trains from that point forward.
Le Mans was a nice large station with some shops, so we bought a baguette and some coffee and then jumped on an almost empty train with loads of room. Only in France would you see a pile of luggage with a baguette sticking out of it…
It was at this point that I realised the train we were on had its terminus in Caen… so essentially we were going to get off of a train that was going where we wanted to go in order to get on the next train that would be going where we wanted to go…
We could have probably stayed on that train and cut about an hour out of our journey, but again, we didn’t have the confidence in our abilities to explain that to a conductor, police officer, or a judge, and no one wanted to end up in a French jail or mandatory service in the French Foreign Legion, so we stuck with what was printed on our tickets.
We checked if there were any cabs at the Mézidon station, which there wasn’t, so we felt vindicated in our decision to get the extra ticket, as we did when we arrived at Caen where there was a large taxi stand waiting with cabs.
After asking for directions a few times, our driver go us into Méry Corbon and the stunningly beautiful grounds of the Chateau de Launay.
Ever since getting to France, we’ve noticed a tendency for our hosts to be completely trusting of their guests. I’m not saying that any of us are untrustworthy or anything, and I’m talking beyond the fact that these fine people open up their homes and say “here is a key to my place, sleep, eat, lounge, and there is a toilet over there. When you get up, I’ll make you some breakfast and arrange for a car to take you where you want to go.”
It seems that all of our places in France have gone even beyond that, offering their bicycles, their vehicles, their TVs and videos, and even going to the extent to offering us their pets and children (the latter to come in another post).
As soon as we were settled, our German host, who spoke flawless english, asked if we were ok with dogs, and when we replied in the affirmative, we met Oscar.
He was two year old golden retriever clydesdale cross with big ol’ eyes and a happy tail and an “OH BOY, OH BOY, OH BOY, OH BOY” attitude, but well trained even when he was excited.
I went upstairs to dump off my stuff as we were going to make a quick trip into town to see what was what, and when I returned, L had a leash and a big smile on her face and said “We’re taking someone for a walk!”
SO our host, Mark, had just met us, literally two minutes ago, and just says “Hi, welcome, here’s how you work the showers, there’s a coffee machine over there, help yourself, oh, and here’s my dog”.
So we went strolling along the country roads enjoying the smell of the new blooms and the sounds of songbirds. Every once and a while we would have to stop to investigate the most important bush that Oscar had ever smelled so he could pee on it, and then carry on until the next, even more important bush that Oscar had ever smelled.
Later I went into Méry Corbon and found a grocery store, that was closed, a butcher… that was closed, and a bakery… that was just about to close but I begged the woman to come in and she said “quickly, quickly!” so I went in and there wasn’t much there but I got a couple of pastries and a pair of baguettes because it was all she had and I didn’t know how to say “Yo, whaddya got that’s fresh and yummy, possibly with some cream inserted into it at a density that defies science?”
Those provisions got us through to the morning when we had a wonderful breakfast of various homemade (by Mark) jams and preserves, a light fruit salad, yogurt, and Oscar wondering if we were going to finish everything.
Then it was into Méry Corbon and the small grocery, and exploring the country roads into Cléville to the north with its medieval church…
and a kangaroo farm…
Whathejiggy? Yup… those are kangaroos…
Then back just past the Chateau for an amazing meal at a nearby restaurant called Au Fil des Saisons. Like, seriously good food… three courses of amazing. Started with the best potato salad ever made… like EVER, followed by something that I think was called Chicken-holy-crap-that’s-unbelievable which included some mash potato that was half cloud, and a local Normandy cheese plate for dessert. Even the bread basket was amazing, there was this one loaf that I think came out of the oven at exactly the right second of the baking process. It had a caramelized crust that was perfect.
The next morning we had another excellent breakfast with Oscar, who got lots and lots of attention…
and then loaded ourselves into a cab that took us to the Mézidon train station and a confusing morning with the SNCF.