We've moved down the coast to La Baule, the "most beautiful beach in Europe" and Guerande, a medieval walled city. From a culinary standpoint, Guerande is known for one very important thing--salt. And not just any salt--probably the most famous French salt, so great you can't cook with it but must instead add it after the final dish has been made. So, we went to Guerande, saw the market, bought some Sausages (one fennel and one wild boar), two Rocamadour cheeses, two Yellow Peaches, an Avocado and a Flute Gana for our picnic lunch. Then it was time for some serious shopping.
I knew Fleur de Sel came from the Guerande salt marshes and I knew I wanted to bring some back with me. Because we have too much stuff traveling with us as is, I vowed to limit myself to one container of plain Fleur de Sel and one of flavored (mixed with spices or herbs). I was wondering where I would buy my presents as we explored the town when I noticed a woman sitting with a wheelbarrow in front of a chapel. She was selling salt! Fleur de sel, to be more exact. I looked but she had only big bags of it--too big a chance it would open up in our bags.
Then we started looking in various souvenir shops and found each one offered a variety of salts. Being unable to decide which store to go to, we took a walk up on the ramparts and saw a store with a very simple name: Salt. Not only did they sell different flavored salts, but offered tastes as well. So I tasted all the salts (including a vanilla one--very strange), read the containers to see what they were suggested with and decided on a Fleur de Sel aux epices, a mild spice blend that tastes like it will go with anything. We also got a jar of plain Fleur de Sel and we plan to carry both jars around with us in case something we buy for a picnic needs a boost of flavor.
Before leaving, we stopped at a cafe for a snack of a Crepe with Caramel au Fleur de Sel. It was so delicious (the play of sweet caramel with crunchy, salty Fleur de Sel) that we immediately returned to a souvenir shop specializing in Cadeaux Gourmands and bought ourselves a jar. We'll let you know what we put it on!
Next stop: La Rochelle.