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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Letter from Audierne

Dawn breaks over Audierne
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Oh how we love this small, unspoiled, market fishing town which has no pretensions or modern glamour to smother its original reality. Thankfully, the long arm of ‘Progress’ has kept its destructive hands away from Audierne.

Meanwhile, the town’s extensive shell fish industry has kept it firmly on the haute cuisine map by serving much of France with fresh crab, lobster, langoustine, sardines and line-caught fish.

You can imagine the excitement when notices outside Audierne wet fish shops declare ‘Langoustines Vivante – arrive à 19 heures ce soir’. Queues grow long.

Similar to St Peter Port

In a way, the town looks similar to St Peter Port before its marinas were created. The fishing fleet moors against the long sea wall which fronts the town’s road with its shops, houses and the Le Goyen 3 star Hotel. More houses line the small hill behind, all with slate roofs. The marina has been added at the end.

She needed a bath

After six hours, we finished cleaning and had a drink
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Having travelled from Beaucette in not the best of seas, Play d’eau was covered in salt and needed a good bath.

Jason, who cleans and polishes Play d’eau regularly, had been a good tutor. ‘A good soapy bath at least once a week and a good coat of carnuba wax polish every two months. Do the upper deck one month, and the lower deck the next.’ Yes, Jason.

Having arrived in the early morning from Camaret, we started just after lunch. Six hours later, she’d had her (very) soapy bath, all over, been rinsed down and chamois leather dried. She looked good, really good. We broke out the Peroni and quaffed on the aft deck in hot sunshine.

Bas Armagnac and…

The sign read ‘De Vigne en Vin’ and pointed to a side road. Once inside the Cave, fine wines were beautifully laid out in three cool cellars. The last had an array of Armagnac.

After many tastings, resistance was low and we just had to buy a very fine Armagnac, didn’t we?

The cellars of De Vigne en Vin d’Audierne
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Being fully in the spirit of the event we began tasting dessert wines. An Alsace from the Gewurztraminer grape stood out. It would have been ungracious of us not to buy it and find an excuse to drink it.

A treat

Having had an unexpectedly good dinner served with beautiful French elegance in the 3 star Hotel Goyen two years ago, we booked a return treat.

The surroundings hadn’t changed. A light grey décor, wallpaper on the doors, white starched table cloths and waitresses who seemed to flow and glide rather than walk.

Whilst consuming glasses (note the plural) of champagne, we studied the menu. With Lin choosing lobster for a main course the Maître d’hôtel returned with three live local specimens displayed on a silver salver. Pointing to one of them, Lin said, ‘Emile, please.’

An excellent bottle of Sancerre accompanied six local No 3 oysters, crab meat rolled in thin slices of raw white fish, and langoustine tails (raw) in a delightful soya and lentil broth. Emile, gently roasted, and a sea bass poached in a fennel vegetable stock, followed. With no room for anything else, Piers paid the bill and knocked his expresso all over the table cloth.

Le Goyen 3 star Hotel
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Without doubt, the stars were the lobster and sea bass. It’s rare to find fish so beautifully prepared and both were simply magnificent. And now for the ‘but’: if there was any criticism, it was that the accompaniments on the dishes were dark brown or grey and somewhat dull. They needed the next level of brightening with colour and burst of flavour.

A day trip to Quimper

Being such a small marina, mainly for privately owned fishing and sailing boats, there’s only room for a handful of visitors on the hammerheads. Given its size there’s no marina wi-fi (wee-fee) so visits to the local bars and cafés for Chocolat Chaud or Cidre Pression were necessary. Quelle domage.

On the other hand, if we had a mobile wi-fi extender as we did in South Africa, we might be able to save the not inconsiderable amount we were spending on cidre.

On a dull and chilly day, we took the hour long bus journey to Quimper (yes, Piers went on a bus…). We found the Orange emporium next to the Cathédrale Saint-Corentin de Quimper. €85 later, we had a 4G Orange Let’s Go (pay as you go) Airbox and credit valid for six months. Will it work?

Time to depart

And now we must make ready to depart for Port la Fôret tomorrow, 12 June 2015.

Piers and Lin
from the saloon of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

A Bas Armagnac magnifique
click to enlarge

An equally magnifique Alsace dessert wine
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Cathédrale Saint-Corentin de Quimper began construction in the 1200s
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An interesting roof line
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The Catherdral’s Last Supper window
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Glorious back streets of ages untold
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2 comments to Letter from Audierne

  • Diccon

    So great to hear you are having a great time (after such a long start). It sounds glorious and if you can do that amount of cleaning and then be able to relax with a bière at the end of the day then all the better!

    Loads of love from us all.

  • Hil

    Oh Piers and Lin- it all sounds such great fun and great interest too-I’m so glad! It sounds a treat to find places like that, so removed from our civilisation. How Kiffer would have loved the Armagnac tasting in his Armagnac days! And the meal…delish! (Except for the grey and brown.) Why did you need 4G Orange etc?

    Lots of love, Hil x x

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