Brittany, as expected, proved to be cheaper than London. We spent more than five weeks living in a beautiful old house near Dinan for a grand total of £510. Who says travel needs to be expensive? And for that small outlay we got a lot.
It was our first house-sit where we’ve had use of a car. Two cars, in fact. And we took full advantage, adventuring across the back roads of Brittany to see the sights in our old Jeep. The isolation of our house meant we had to take the car to get even the most basic of provisions, but the trusty – well, fairly trusty – old diesel engine went through less than £20 a week. It was pretty much an essential expense as we basically just cared for the house and pets, worked and went on trips out in the car.
Oh, and we ate. Really ate. Brittany is home to some seriously good seafood. Good enough to make even me look vaguely competent in the kitchen. So we indulged a little, slipped the odd crab or handful of scallops into our weekly shop. And of course it’d be rude to eat such delicacies without a drop of at least passable wine. So we added a bottle or two of plonk. Doing anything else really would have been disrespectful to the fish. It died for us, the least we can do is spend €6 on a bottle of white to give it a proper send-off.
Well, at least that’s what we told ourselves.
Our low-rent take on the Bacchanalian lifestyle pushed our weekly grocery spend up to a hardly hedonistic £45 a week. If you were to house-sit in Brittany you could certainly exist on less, but you’d have to go without a handful of the things that make living in the area such a joy. Some of my strongest memories of our stay are food related, from the wide-eyed wonder of cracking open my first goose egg to the primal fear I’d overcooked Mel’s scallops.
The last person to do that still walks with a limp. True story.
We also ate a few dinners and one lunch out, clocking up a weekly bill just shy of £35. The cost was lower than usual because I had to drive to and from each of the restaurants. And, as our immersion in local culture stopped short of teararsing down country roads in a 4X4 while half-cut, we spent less on wine. The sole, small victory of the designated driver.