If you are a retired wrinkly looking to enjoy France, there are two months that are head and shoulders above all the others if you are to avoid screaming hoards of Satan’s Little Disciples accompanied by “modern” parents who have lost all sense of parenting skills. [Yes, we used to have them.] June is ultimately the best, especially for a nature lover who wants to see late spring in all its potential glory with as much wildlife interest as possible. Next best is September, when most of the rugrats are locked up back in school, buggered concrete an’ all. The trouble is that nature is thinking of shutting down in September so it doesn’t quite match June.
September is also the month of Francine’s birth so, favouring visiting France in September, her birthday is more often than not celebrated in France. This year is particularly special because Francine has a significant birthday, though a gentleman really shouldn’t disclose a number. We are both fond of the French plateau de fruits de mer feasts which, being nigh on impossible to get back at home, seem particularly special. In a nutshell, that’s largely why we are here now.
The Bassin de Thau is oyster country, above all else, but it does do mussels as well. Mèze is a great little place to find a celebratory seafood feast. We’d cycled down the few kilometres from our campsite at Loupian to Mèze to study the menus at the various harbour restaurants and found one in particular offering a selection of plateaux. I booked a table, just to be safe.
So here we are. Instead of one of their set selections – Francine isn’t fond of bulots [whelks] and I could care less about raw moules [mussles], though we both love them cooked – we decided to pick a coquillages selection ourselves. We opted for a dozen large oysters, a dozen palourdes [clams], half a dozen crevettes [prawns] and a torteau [crab] as a centre piece. For anyone who likes playing with their food, this has to be the way to go. As a final mark of perfection, the restaurant had a bottle of viognier from the local Beauvignac cave, which has to be our favourite white wine, to wash it down.