St. Pierre et Miquelon, France. I won’t be back. I read mixed reviews about it from the beginning, quite polarized. From “amazing place,” to “don’t go.” Unless you’re a photographer, or really interested in history and architecture, I’m in the “don’t go” camp. Doug, however, is the photographer/history/architecture buff, and so I am consoled. He is happy.
What’s not to like? Well, I haven’t had one decent cup of coffee, the sin of all sins, since I landed, and there are no outdoor cafes! (Actually there is one, but see references to hours of operation further down.) In fact, there’s not a lot of anything. And when there is a yes (a bar, a restaurant, a shop), they’re only open from, say, 10 am to noon and 2 pm to 4 pm or 6 pm, closed Saturday afternoons (!), all day Sunday, and many places are closed Monday as well. Okay, it’s a small town (population 6,000), a fishing town, but it does depend a fair bit on tourism from what I can see. Wouldn’t bet the farm on that industry, though.
Last night, we met a lovely American couple at a restaurant who said they felt stranded here and couldn’t wait to get out! I feel the same way. (Remember when you were a kid and you whined and whined to yer ma: “Ma, there’s n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to doooooooooo….”? That’s me now.)
And the wine! I am sorry, but in the one (of two) liquor stores, it had one…count’em, one…brand of Chardonnay! Domaine du Tariquet. It’s ok, not great. Wine, people! We’re talking France and wine, aren’t we?
What am I missing?
I am not a huge shopper, although I like browsing on holidays because that’s really the only time I have to do that. I am hoping to browse a few shops tomorrow (Monday), but there really are only a few, they look expensive and like they don’t have a lot of goods—not to mention I’m not sure if they’ll be open on Monday.
But. I. Must. Have. Cafés. Lovely little places with GOOD coffee, some decent munchies (no, not empty puffy pastries!). I’ve found two so far. One is not open on Sunday and the other is open for a few hours on Sunday, but only to serve take-out pastries. No coffee on Sunday! Cafés sans café!
Which brings me to the subject of food! Luckily, we’re not foodies. (I had a bag of potato chips for lunch and Doug had an ice cream bar). Last night, I had grilled salmon swimming in butter with greasy fried potatoes speckled with “lardons’, which are bacon. Luckily, the napkins were of good quality and one was sufficient to soak up most of the butter. Doug had some other fish dish with a lobster-esque sauce that looked like it was infused with orange dye. And then there’s the okay service…like…well, never mind.
Not sounding good, eh? And I do generally like to see the positive in things.
The little inn! L’Auberge St Pierre. Lovely. Spotless. Very solicitous service. Comfy bed. Nice amenities. A bit small. But that’s okay. No place to sit outside though. In fact, you hardly see anybody sitting outside in their yards or on patios. I don’t know about you, but in the summer, I want to be outside every freaking moment I can.
Of course, we’re not talking 30 degree weather here. In fact, the temperature is half that. But still! It’s summer! and the streets and yards are empty. I wonder what they all do inside all that time?
ANYWAY! Enough complaining! (Did I mention the fog and rain?) Could have been worse, I could have booked more than three nights here! Eeekkkkkkkkkkkkkk!
Doug’s editorial comments
I’ve travelled fairly widely in Atlantic Canada, so I wasn’t surprised by what we found in St Pierre. It’s definitely France, but it’s not Paris. And it’s certainly not the Riviera. St Pierre is a working fishing town, and tourism has only been developing recently.
St Pierre is a photographer’s dream: quickly changing atmospherics, rugged mountain vistas, quaint, colourful homes, and idiosyncratic public architecture. And it’s fresher picture material than Peggy’s Cove or the Eiffel Tower!
Who wants to hear about your perfect vacation anyway? The things that go wrong make the best stories. They never made a “National Lampoon’s Sandals Vacation”, did they?
And Erin never went on a holiday in her life that she didn’t want to leave a day early.