A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (according to me)

Sea Birds Cottage in Victoria

I have really missed solo travel during the last 16 months. Nothing suits me more than a small room, a good book, long walks and a daily café meal. Last week, I visited Victoria for 4 nights. I stayed at the Sea Birds Cottage in the Fairfield neighbourhood. Every day, I walked for many hours, browsed a little in small shops and returned to my cozy room to read and to watch British mysteries on Acorn TV. I watched all of Ian Rankin's Rebus series. I enjoy the characterization and the scenes of Edinburgh.

the perfect room for a lady traveller

One of the aspects of solo travel that I enjoy most is spontaneity. Travel partners often have different expectations. I am content to wander without purpose, to pause at a seaside bench to  read a chapter of my book and watch dogs play. I enjoy eating at the neighbourhood restaurant whatever it might be. On this trip, it was The Beagle Pub in Cook Street Village. 

lunch at Vis-à-Vis in Oak Bay

Since I have been yearning for La Belle France, I decided to celebrate Bastille Day in Victoria. I checked that L'Alliance Française had no celebrations. Pas de tout! So I planned an itinerary for myself. Déjeuner of moules with a glass of rosé at Vis-à-Vis restaurant in Oak Bay and some French themed browsing in the neighbourhood. Malheureusement, there is a shortage of kitchen staff right now so the French bistro is only serving an English pub menu. The most Gallic item on the menu was a garden salad with tuna which I ordered in French for fun. Déçue, I thought of Bastille Days that I had spent in Saint-Malo and in Nice. Fireworks, crowds, the sea! I telephoned a travelling friend from those days and we revisited our trips of yore. She thinks that I look like the French country ladies that we met in some of the villages in the Auvergne.

a little shopping in Fairfield and Oak Bay

I really don't need to shop at all. But there are small purchases that delight. My friend, Leslie, the Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, often shops in neighbourhood vintage stores. I visited Kay's Corner and I saw a street sign. Mais voilà! It wasn't just any street sign. My mother had told me about going to Victoria 75+ years ago to visit her grandmother's cousin. Her grandmother's maiden name was Colvin. I could not resist.

At French Vanilla, in Oak Bay, I spied a pair of cushion covers with an avian print. They will brighten my bedroom in the winter. Along with an edition of My French Country Home magazine...All to ease the yearning.

My bedroom is getting more and more French.

I'm definitely in one of those moods of shameless francophile longing. My reading this week will be The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant. What better way to recapture Paris Days?


  1. How lovely that you were able to pop across the pond and enjoy our neighbourhood.
    I was sorry that we could not meet up but our annual two weeks at the cottage were in conflict.

    You found some treasures I see! I frequent both those shops regularly and the women who own them are good friends.

    Your accommodation looks very charming and cozy and well situated for lots of walking.
    Enjoy your week Madame.

    1. I really enjoyed spending time in your neighbourhood. I like the small shops. I did visit Mercedes Lane Too and bought a top to wear to my mum's 90th birthday. Small women-owned businesses are worth supporting.
      I am sure to return to Sea Birds Cottage because the owner was so friendly and it's so close to Dallas Road. I really prefer the location to the Inner Harbour.

  2. What an enjoyable time it seems you had and in the best of company. Perfect little room.
    Hope you are able to make plans for a trip back to France before too long.

    1. I'm tentatively booked for September 2022. We don't know about health concerns in these times but a woman can dream!

  3. I'm finding myself choosing French-themed books these days, dreaming of days when we traveled. Your solo vacation sounds just lovely. It is good to be able to wander at one's own pace sometimes. Even though my husband and I usually travel together, we will split up to wander on our own for a few hours.
    Next time you are in Victoria, perhaps we could meet for tea - perhaps with Leslie, too.

    1. I'm enjoying Mavis Gallant's short stories. The neighbourhood descriptions transport me to the different arrondissements. I would love to meet you the next time that I am in Victoria. I think that I might be travelling in B.C. for a little while yet.

  4. Well, you know how I feel about solo travel. . . and France! Your four days would have suited me very well, except for the non-Niçoise salad! ;-)

    1. I was disappointed by the absence of any French fare but I did have a great conversation with my most literary travelling friend. I will make une salade niçoise and invite a friend over for lunch. Solo time is so important to me!


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