Friday, October 26, 2018

lunch in Marans

While Véro, her son Tim, her daughter Héloïse, and Hélo's friend Pauline biked 35 kilometers to the town of Marans, I rode there in relative luxury with Maman and Papa, who drove me.

We got a bit lost going there and back; Papa's poor vision prevents him from reading maps, and Maman was driving, so it was up to me and my patchy GPS to guide Maman to where we needed to go.

The bike route followed the Sèvre niortaise west, away from Niort and toward Marans. By sheer coincidence, we who rode and those who biked ended up meeting right along the part of the Sèvre where we were supposed to meet. The weather had been less than ideal for biking for most of the morning, but by 1 p.m., when we all met, the day had suddenly become sunny and warm. After lunch, the bikers left to do their 35 km back home, but we older folks hung around a bit to take in the beautiful town.

Papa noted all the pleasure boats in the water. He also noted the locks along the Sèvre (écluses), which opened and closed regularly to accommodate these boats. The problem, according to Papa, was that each opening of the locks drained tons of water out of the Sèvre, water that had come from the marsh. So little by little, human activity was drying out the marshlands.

Papa also pointed out the old, rusty cannons along the water's edge, pointing west toward the sea as a defense against constant British invasions. I joked, "And now the Brits come as tourists."

A view of part of the riverside portion of the town of Marans:

We were supposed to go to one particular restaurant, but they ended up having room for only four people, not seven of us. We walked a bit and found ourselves in another restaurant that had plenty of room, not to mention a good menu selection. I got a tomato-and-lettuce salad with Roquefort cheese, plus an émincé de poulet done up in slightly Middle Eastern fashion. Most of the table got the chicken, but Maman dated to be different and got the local fish with cream sauce, jauntily advertised as a filet de lieu, which I learned meant pretty much literally what it said: a filet of local meat (de lieu = of that place)-- in this case, fish. I liked my dish, but part of me wishes I had ordered the fish, which smelled amazing.

Here are Maman's hands, hovering over her plate of fish:

Here's my chicken dish, somewhat blurry:

And here is a less-than-ideal shot of a magnificent-yet-simple crème brûlée, one of my favorite desserts. Most of us ordered this dessert, and we all cooed over the texture and flavor. Nicely done, and surely one of my best memories of the day.

The jazzy wall painting caught my eye:

A shot of most people, with Hélo either in mid-blink or doing something goofy:

A pic of the pleasure boats we saw during our post-prandial stroll:

That's part of the Sèvre, but that's also where the marsh is:

Ancient, rusty "Fuck the British!" cannons. Papa said some of these guns have been recycled as posts around which to loop the hawsers used to secure boats to a pier.

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