by Virginie Michelet
But which certainly started badly. Arriving at the TGV train station at Saint-Malo on a Monday at lunchtime (train = travel = mild fatigue + lunchtime = hunger = bad mood probable), there was no one to greet us despite the letter assuring us otherwise. A quick phone call to reception (find a telephone, brave the drizzle), "The driver is on his way". Another wait. Long. Call again, "Ah, I was there but I saw no one". "Where?" "At the taxi stand!" - "But we do not know the station, Sir!" "Oh, I will come and fetch you then". This kind of miscommunication can go on for a long time. I am both surprised - I had already stayed in this hotel before and I loved it - and furious - this time I came with my friend, to whom I had sung the praises of the hotel. Unfortunately it continues: No "Good-day!" from the driver. At the reception, the same attitude: I explain the problem and the receptionist just nods, looking at me with glazed eyes. I admit: it really gets on my nerves, and I let him know. The glazed eyes turn to beady. "And the room? We begin the cure in one hour and we need to change" - "Uh, I'll do my best to get it ready", says the Kafka look-alike. "We are here for a 'Sea and Fitness' treatment programme. I wonder if we're going to enjoy it!", I protest, loud enough to be heard by those around us. Exit the receptionist, in the direction of the restaurant. I plan to go and seek an explanation from the hotel management immediately. A little further away, at the bar, I nonchalantly ask the barmaid whether the owners have changed since the last time I came here five years ago. Nay. It is the same family in charge. Weird, my last visit left me with such good memories. After a quick and not particularly friendly, meal, I apologize profusely to my darling who, princely, just gives me a sorry smile.
Finally, we get to the room. For once - I am a bit difficult, you guessed it! – there is nothing wrong, our lodging is perfect. It is time to go for the first sessions. Circulatory shower, tonic pool, underwater cascades and manual bathing (a pure delight) follow one after the other. Really? It is odd, my resolve to talk the management is less firm. The dinner hour arrives. We had asked for a diet menu for I know that the dishes are carefully prepared and delicious. Why heap on the pounds when you can lose them with the same pleasure? A hostess takes charge of us, we are pampered, and seated at a table that suits us perfectly, served the appropriate menu that is clearly explained to us. And it is totally enjoyable. The next day, a new salvo of treatments, one more relaxing than the other. In the afternoon, I completely forget to complain to management and we gulp in the sea air all along the beach to the famous ramparts of Saint Malo, with a song of Hugues Aufray on our lips ...
And after? The relaxation then sets in, the service is attentive, the treatments well executed, a judicious use of time, the piano of the bar is exactly like a piano bar should be, herbal teas that are original and delicious. We succumb to the good-natured atmosphere, with breakfasts as varied as they are hearty (I swear, we had to made an effort to be reasonable), then healthful cooking lessons taught by two chefs: the salty Patrice Dugué, and the sweet Pascal Pochon, who, together with the dietician, have decided to keep us fit AND in good spirits. In short, what was this glitch at our arrival? Sleeping, drinking the two bottles of Plancoët (a delicious mineral water from Brittany) that are graciously offered in our room, walking, having fun striding against the current in the water circuit, we read our books, enjoy the little chocolate laid on the pillow every night, we learn that there are no fewer than forty people in the kitchen and twenty-five in the bakery, with a bakery and chocolate factory on the premises, warming to the smiles and greetings of the staff we encounter. We loosen up, laugh, enjoy life, and remember that the last vacation was long ago, and we should perhaps take one more often.The day of departure arrives. “Did you not say you wanted to talk to the director?" “Who? I? I said that?" A little smile from my friend, with the question, "When are we coming back?" warms my heart.
We will never know what happened that Monday noon. Why, amid so much consistency and authenticity, we encountered such a snag. And to tell you the truth, we don’t particularly care!
(Thanks to Alphonse B. Seny for the photo!)
© Virginie Michelet