On leaving St Cast, we decided to take a three-night detour into Plouer, situated up the river Rance, past the entrance to St Malo. After a sunny crossing from St Cast, we came upon the lock, which sits at the mouth of the river. Ten minutes before the lock was due to open, there were perhaps fifteen yachts and small day boats milling around. By the time the lights turned green, one yacht was already nose-in to the lock, with the others steaming along behind. Over some unseen tannoy came the commanding French voice of the lock keeper telling the small boats to give way to the big motor boat: us. We ploughed on through the reluctantly parting boats and rafted onto a small yacht, dwarfing it and those around us spectacularly. Patience looked like Gulliver, hemmed in and held in place by the ropes of the small boats around her. Behind us, tenders and other small motors continued to whizz into the lock, despite the closing of the giant iron gates. Hearing shouts behind us, we turned to see a small tender speed through the closing gate, James Bond style, at absolutely the last second, with his throttle on full pelt. As he cleared the gates, not managing to pull off the throttle quickly enough, he drove straight into another rib, both of which rebounded off each other and the lock wall, throwing their passengers around alarmingly. It was chaos.
With nowhere forward for us to go, we weren’t even sure if we were clear of the bridge, which had been lifted to allow the boats in, the yachts having taken up the forward space of the lock. All turned to watch the bridge as it lowered itself ominously, and those on board Patience began to wonder whether we should lower the radar arch, unsure as we were whether we would clear the bridge. Finally fully lowered, the bridge fell back into place with a metallic thump, and we sighed in relief, while the French yachtsmen around us nodded sagely.
Making it through the lock we wended our way slowly up the river Rance, which is calm and quietly pretty, despite the bizarre graffiti. On entering Plouer marina, we were greeted by Madame, the charming harbour master. Taking our lines she welcomed us in beautiful English, ignoring our attempts at speaking French. Indeed this wonderful lady makes a stay to Plouer worth it. Delivering fresh baguette every morning, Madame made our stay as lovely and as easy as possible, while remaining one of the cheapest marinas we’ve stayed in.
Plouer itself is a strange place, with very little going on, and not really offering beautiful long walks. The town itself, a fifteen-minute walk from the marina, is like a ghost town. We tried both biking, and walking, and managed to get lost both times, and not see very much at all in the way of natural beauty. We did, however, see a fat seal lazing on the end of a pontoon in the afternoon sun, which was perfect.
At the end of our quiet stay at Plouer, we retraced our steps back down the river to the lock, which was eerily quiet on a Sunday afternoon, and made our way back into St Malo, where we await the visit of my sister Emily and her boyfriend Alexis, who live in Orleans, just south of Paris. And so, until then!