Saturday, 4 June 2011

Driving to L'Orangerie de Lanniron at Quimper

First Customer of the Day
Grasshopper had planned a lovely route diagonally across Brittany from St. Malo to Quimper.  It was a bit hairy getting out of St.Malo but soon we were on our way, stopping for a coffee at an Aire de Service just as the kiosk was opening at around 8.30am.

We avoided the boring dual carriageways and travelled through pretty and quiet towns and villages. We had no problems with the size of the vehicle as the streets weren't too narrow.  There were plenty of picnic spots well back from the roads so we were able to stop and make refreshments.   Traffic was very scarce all the way until we reached the outskirts of Quimper.

Traffic wasn't the only difficulty.  Quimper seems to have the most roundabouts, slipways, flyovers and underpasses than any other town (apart from Redditch and Telford) I've ever travelled to.  The directions were to follow the Centre Ville signs and then head out on the Southern Ringroad towards Pont L'Abbé, and look for the Lanniron sign.  I was fine with the Centre Ville signs.  Then they disappeared.  As the signs are on the exits only Grasshopper's sharp long distance eyes could sort where we needed to go out of the dozens of place names (all written in very thin letters) listed on every sign.   Of course the signs don't say Southern Ringroad (why would they?).  Clever G worked out that the Sud Ouest was the way we needed to go and then it was just a case of travelling as slowly as was decently possible and keeping les yeux skinned for the very tiny Lanniron signs.  All of a sudden there was the final swing off the road, we left the horrendous traffic behind, drove through les portails and pulled up with great relief in front of the Reception at L'Orangerie de Lanniron.
Determined to state who we were, and give our booking details in French,  I had practised whole sentences in my best French accent for several days.  I can report to mes amis that I delivered what was needed with la confiance.  Unfortunately I must have given the impression that I could speak and more importantly understand French.  The smiling receptionist called my bluff and delivered a lengthy response that definitely included a question.
Grasshopper said mon visage took on the expression of a buddha.  There was a fairly long embarrassed silence until I managed to splutter out my preferred standby in moments of terror ''Pardon Madame je ne comprends pas, mon francais est très mauvais!!''

Fortunately Anna was very good humoured, spoke perfect English, and even allowed me to continue trying to speak to her in French over the next seven days.  I like to think I improved, but Anna may tell you differently.

As le camping is situated on the vast acres of a grand château, Anna biked with us to show us les emplacements and helped us choose one of a suitable size and position.  We straight away hit it off with Jan and Terry who were pitched nearby (more of them later).   Soon we were settled in with the awning up, a meal made and a glass of red at the ready.

Setting up Camp at L'Orangerie

L'Orangerie had only opened for the season a few days earlier, so when we met Jan and Terry and another couple for a drink later at the bar we found it rather poorly stocked.  Although there was one bottle of red wine on a shelf we were told it was just for show.  I managed with rosé.  There were four pumps for beer but nothing in them, so Grasshopper coped with a bottle.  The drinks were also very expensive considering this is France and they just about give the stuff away.  So we only had one.  This and the extortionate cost of WiFi were the only negative points we found about staying at L'Orangerie.  As a result we didn't drink at the bar and couldn't access the internet until we finally found a McDonalds (free WiFi). Even then it was a bit of a trek on the hellish roads (that we got lost on every time we went out), hence the news blackout.

If the management team at L'Orangerie is interested in feedback that could improve business why not offer free WiFi in the vicinity of the bar?  People using the internet would buy tea, coffee, soft and alcoholic drinks if they were available and reasonably priced.

Everything else about the place was fantastic.  Please read my next blog to see why.

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