port moguer in plouha
On the coast of Brittany in the north of France is a little town called Plouha (twinned with Killorglin of County Kerry, Ireland). A fortuituous apartment swap with friends of the fine arts organization, GwinZegal, brought this wanderer to this magical, secluded place of wheat and corn fields, cows at pasture, rocks and water…
Below: Off in the distance is Gwin Zegal, and at low tide, the beach is wide open. Locals come to clam for palourdes (steam with parsley, garlic and white wine) and to dig up lançon (for bait for the loup de mer).
But at high tide, the way to the beach is cut off, and the tide comes in very quickly. If you were oblivious to the tide and were lounging on the beach, you would have to wait 6 hours before being released.
At high tide at dusk is when the fishermen come. They warn you not to sit too closely for the water has been known to surge up and knock people off into the sea.
And you get a sense of how much the water drops when you see how small the people are below:
My favorite thing would be to swim at high tide and glide over the rocks which I climbed just a few hours ago.
The first time I saw the oysters, I am loathe to admit it, but I banged a few open with a rock. I rinsed the shell bits off, and big black crabs appeared out of nowhere to wave me off and grab the booty. Aggressive little brown fish came charging in, too.
The second night, I came back with a knife, which did not feel any more civilized. It felt so primal, raw and wild to open them and eat them, the waters that nourished them swirling at my feet. It was so wonderful. But it still felt neanderthal.
Nitrates from the run-off of agricultural fertilizers have caused clogging algae to grow out of control. The papers inform daily the level of pollution in the waters. Yet, the oysters and mussels all look as happy as clams.
Gwin Zegal is one of the only places left that uses the ancient anchorage of tree trunks. Live trees have been uprooted and planted into the water since the 5th century.
Back in NYC, friend: “You didn’t leave the bottom parts on the rocks, did you?”
me: “Why, yes. I did.”
Friend: “Oh, no! you’re not supposed to do that! You’re supposed to chisel them off and then open them. That’s very bad form.”
Well, I am obliged to return and get the bottoms off, then.