We didn’t get to the Casino.
One in the bath tub and one horizontal on the bed watching Georgia give Fiji a decent rugby game of it on the television won out. We wondered if people three rooms down the hall either side could hear us yelling at the thing. And let them make their own assumptions as to wonder back what we were up in room 104!
Another cracker sunrise greeted us this morning. So too another degree of so drop in the mercury as autumn is taking hold. A couple of quiche Lorraines (lunch) from the Boulangerie and two microwave Le Tajine de Beuf e ses Legumes du Soleii (dinner) from the Carrefour supermarket were purchased and carefully stuffed into panniers before we set to it and bunked out of Saint Brevins proper. And for good this time.
The outgoing tide was still reasonably high, where the hell does all the water go when it recedes to be low tide? Having visited Bay of Fundy in Canada to experience the place on the planet where it records the highests and lowest tidal fluctuation at 16 metres, this place on the planet had it’s uniqueness about it with it being shallow yet shrinking outwards to expose so much bottom.
As it did, so too did it all along the coast line followed, attract the population to go harvest kiamoana (food from the sea). And then as the kilometres started to mount up heading further south, swimming beaches started to appear. Being Sunday and cloudless, there was enough warmth for families to spend it still either baking under the sun’s rays or cooling off at the waters edge in the Atlantic.
A stop at an establishment for a mid-morning cuppa was quirky. People sitting at tables or at the bar with caraffes of wine. Were they still to finish up from the night before or do they just start early? One fella was carrying a baguette – “yes dear, I’ll shoot down and get us a loaf, no worries” as we watched him knock one back before bidding other patrons “Au revoir.” The lifestyle here opens ones eyes to another pace of life possibilities, that’s for sure.
Sea walls darting out from the shore with boat craft now starting to be high and dry because of the sea evaporation and decide which way to lean, another eye opener. We took a walk on one as far as the concrete would allow that jutted out. Exposed rocks with sea lettuces green and browns on one side, and tiny wave ripples on the other from a soft on-shore sea breeze to fill the nostrils with the smell of the ocean. It was such a huge contrast from the inland canals and river aromas, that’s for sure. Wind turbines lined the curviture horizon way off shore. And the bridge across to Saint Nazaire had shrunk somewhat.
We stopped at some more concrete bunkers to re-fuel on the quiches. We’ve tried to adopt the French style of consuming food by eating more slower. Pffft, nope. Five bites and it was gone in just about the time it took to inhale and exhale a breath. Let’s see how we go with the microwave dinner!
A British ensign flag a little worse for wear flapped from one of the three flag poles close by. I wandered over to see if there was an English translation to their prominence. Yes there was.
British Expeditionary forces had to retreat against the war machine Germany shortly after it invaded France. What took place a Dunkirk is perhaps more widely known. However, the British government ordered all sorts of ships to become troop carriers, one being the Lancastria.
Like Dunkirk, 15,000 British soldiers (plus other nationalities) were expected to arrive at Saint Nazaire and it’s where the Lancastria arrived to join 20 others to contribute to the embarkation, beginning on the 16th June 1940. The Lancastria’s passenger full to brim maximum was 2,500.
The next day, before it was about to set sail so as to minimise the risk of being torpedoed, the air raid sirens rang out. A Junkers 88 attacked the Lancastria. The first bomb landed in the #1 hold where 800 RAF men were. The second bomb landed in the #3 hold releasing 500 tonnes of heavy oil. The third bomb exlopled near the ships funnel in the machine room. The forth bomb detonated in the #4 hold causing the rip in the hull to allow the sea to rush in. Within 15-20 minutes, the Lancastria was fully submerged.
The names of those boarding stopped when they reached 6,000 so as to cram and save as many as they could. 2,477 humans were rescued. Months and months later, hundreds and and hundreds of fodies were found on beaches or pulled up in fisherman nets. A large number now lay at rest in cemeteries around Saint Nazaire.
It’s estimated that the number that perished were three times more than the sinking of the Titanic. Churchill kept it a secret from the British Empire until after the war and ship papers are still archived under military secracy and will not be opened until 2040. What’s with that?
It’s Britain’s worst maritime loss of life and one of the most murderous sinkings in history.
Off the coast of La Pointe Saint-Gildes, 9.5 miles SW of Saint Nazaire, 24 metres deep along the Grand Charpentiers Channel, lies the smashed wreck of the Lancastria, listed as “War Grave” (47°08N, 2°20W, off the Evens).
The legs did experience some thigh burn because the coast isn’t as flat as to what coming across the middle of the country was like. We anticipate more of the same.
We rested one more time over looking both a harbour with a wall and beach goers over the other side – same planet different worlds. And then we rode into the centre city itself which was a buzz full of life. It too had a harbour except there was no water. Here we experienced the plug pulled leaving lots of boats completely exposed. Jeez it was fastenating. Even larger yachts.
Eating dinner more slowly (no we didn’t), our decision to come south proved a damn good one many times over today, with the kaliedescope landscapes. With thoughts of lest we forget.