If there’s anywhere to go for mussels, this is it. Here in Chatel there’s a mussel-and-oyster stall at the bottom of the road. As for Les Boucholeurs, the next village down, it is named after the bouchot, a stave in the water on which mussels are reared.
Across its fine new promenade, shellfish cultivators have right of way.
Because you can get mussels anywhere, I put off the pleasure and, at lunch at Mirko al Mare on 1 November (packed with a jolly All-Saints-Day holiday crowd, flowers presumably previously deposited on family gravestones) ate instead lavagnons, which I’d never heard of before. They were good (with apple and calvados) though I couldn’t swear to tell the difference, out of the shell, between them and vongole and palourdes.
Today we went to La Rochelle on the bus. Let’s have lunch at the café de la Paix where Simenon used to go: they’ll have mussels, of course they will.
Mussels if in season said the menu – which they are. We have no mussels, said the waiter. Or, he corrected himself, we have no mussels left.
Good fish soup though, and Muscadet by the glass.