The reaction of the chap on the door at Le Bidule told me that they weren’t used to seeing English stag parties in La Baule. His eyes narrowed and a scowl spread across his face. Marching up to our sober stag, dressed for the evening in typical Gallic attire, he finger-wagged aggressively at the beret, fake moustache and string of garlic. ‘Ça, ça et ça — non,’ came straight from the de Gaulle school of diplomacy. The response to my timid ‘Pourquoi?’ left us in little doubt: if we wanted our aperitif, the outfit had to go.
No, La Baule is not your typical stag destination. The 12km-long beach on Brittany’s southern coast was a place of un-realised holiday potential until the late 19th century. With the arrival of the railways, casinos and luxury hotels were built and wealthy, stylish visitors began to stream in.