Monday, 6 August 2012

Aboard Taniwha - Part 4: A quick visit to France!

After a straightforward and beautiful sail from Port-Aux-Basques, we came across a long island called Miquelon, then had to use our wits to sail through a choppy sea to get around the headlands of the next island, St. Pierre, to arrive into the colourful town of St. Pierre. Made up of two main islands (or, it could be said, three islands, two of which are joined by a narrow isthmus), St. Pierre & Miquelon is one of the numerous French colonies around the world, known colloquially as the DOM-TOM, that France insists on holding on to. We wondered why they don't just let Canada have it, and figured it must be something to do with National Pride (q.v. Falklands, etc.)

 It is certainly well-protected, by decorative rusting cannons pointing out at the harbour, and also by a border policeman and a customs official who came aboard Taniwha to do a bit of a good-cop bad-cop routine. It was unclear whether they had a sense of irony, but I think they probably enjoy the whole palarver of coming onto people's boats and making sure they are not smuggling hoardes of immigrants...  I couldn't help wondering, after all, where would any immigrants go, once they arrived on this small island?

Perhaps they would go and try to claim asylum at the cathedral, with its decorative fish-shaped door handles...

Perhaps they would search for some industry that has not fallen by the wayside...

...or rob the bank under cover of fog...

Perhaps they would wander the cobbled streets, as we did, in search of some real French food...

Perhaps they would line up at St. Pierre's only boulangerie too late to get hold of any freshly baked goods.

In a small one-bakery town, (although I later found a second one) this turns out to be a real possibility. The first morning, I turned up at the boulangerie with Michelle at 7:30. There was a selection of breads, croissants, pains-au-chocolat, -au-raisins, and quiches. But I had to get some money changed (Euros here, not dollars!) and the bank was not open until 8:30. Back at the boulangerie at 8:35, the selection was all but obliterated. There were still some baguettes, but almost all the good things in the croissant line were gone.

The following morning, I got to the boulangerie at 7:00 and joined the smug people in the first queue who get to stock up on French bakery goods and nibble them on the way home.

And after 48 hours of French Fog and French culture (and a galette and some runny cheese and some not-so-runny cheese), it was time to move on, and we disappeared into the fog, like the immigrant smugglers that we are not.

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