Tuesday, 19 July 2011

French Holiday - Part 1. Brittany


Virtually the first to the ferry port this morning after a night of luxury at the Poole Premier Inn, yet almost the last to board. A slight concern that the ferry might be overbooked and somehow it would be us who were excluded. But the main effect is that we have to queue up a long time for some breakfast (or rather, Linda does)

A calm crossing under the grey sky. I spent it mostly reading Michael Lewis's The Big Short, while Linda reads the papers - something she rarely has time for at home.

It is further than we expect to Concarneau from Cherbourg and we arrive mid-afternoon, stopping for a brief walk around the old town. It is nearly 20 years since we have last been here - the only thing I remember for sure is the fountain where we have a phot of Emma, aged about 2, with her hand under the tap. On the way out of town, we pass the hotel we stayed at on our previous visits, The Hotel de l'Ocean, newly repurbished and now too expensive in our view.

Instead, we are staying at the out-of-the-way Hotel de la Pointe de Mousterlin, which we initially have trouble finding and require the help of two gendarmes to set us on the right road. We are right on the coast, maybe 100 yards away, and it is blowing a mini-gale when we arrive. But there is definitely something bracing about the sea in this condition and we are both rather thrilled by it.

Dinner is at a smallish cafe / bar in the local small town of Fouesant. I have a rather delicious dish of veal kidneys and chips, while Linda has the largest goat's cheese salad ever, loaded down with extra bacon, ham, potatoes, beans, and goodness knows what else, washed down with a bottle of Cotes de Provence rose.

Our first view of the sea


An overcast morning and a trip to Quimper - scene of our daughter's worst ever tantrum, way back in 1991! Once again, I remember little about the town centre, though it is quite stunning looking. As totally unspoilt in the centre as you could ever wish for.

At a celtic music shop, I am able to buy a DVD of Alan Stivell. His Live at the Olympia album from the mid-1970s is in my top 10 cds of all time. There are loads of other cds by him that I don't have, but I rarely buy cds these days and am unconvinced by any now. There is an exhibition called "De Turner a Monet - La Decouverte de la Brfetagne par les paysagistes au XIX siecle" on at the gallery in the centre of town. This has one Turner and two Monets, but lots of other artists who visited Brittany at that time - I actually rather enjoyed it. More exciting was the Max XXX exhibition.

At lunchtime it starts to rain quite hard and we decide on a return to the hotel. On the way back, Emma rings to tell us some exciting news - she and Charlie have found a flat to move into at the end of August - she has sent us a link to the estate agents and we are to look as soon as we get back to the hotel. It does look very nice.

To Concarneau for dinner at one of the many restaurants in the old part of town. A girl on her own on the table to the side of us has 5 pancake courses. I have a huge bowl of local mussels, swimming in a garlic broth. Then pancakes with chocolate ice cream and cherries - Emma would have loved the many pancakes on offer here. Even Linda has one - with almonds, and various other bits and pieces. then she buys loads of chocolates from another shop, and these are finished before we get back to the car.

Back at the hotel, we watch some of Pirates 2, a rather likeable porn film from a couple of years ago.


No let up in the weather - indeed it is worse this morning. So we set off for a long walk along the beach front in the vague direction of Concarneau, 12km away. It is definitely bracing, and a reminder of how useful it was to put some warm clothes and waterproofs in the car.
We have a "picnic" lunch huddled under a tree in the rain, then beat another retreat to the hotel. But then we decide to head off again, this time in the car towards Pont D'Abba. There we have a drink in a pub called the Stivell, which even has pictures of the great man on the walls - could it actually be his?

Then another coastal walk, where we get rained on again, and a drive to a small village which seems to have three lighthouses. There the wind is really gale force, and the waves in the distance are huge white-tops. A brief look out from the farthest promitary and then we retreat to a cafe where I feel obliged to have a pancake.

Dinner in Fouesant again, where it is the Festival de Pomme. Girls are dressed in traditional Bretan costimes, while the men all seem to be wearing funny hats that make them look like the smarmy vicar in Pride and Prejudice. We find ourselves sat next to the same Swiss couple that we were next too last night in Concarneau - are they stalking us? Is that what the Swiss do on holiday?

Linda all set to face whatever the atlantic can throw at us - France in July, eh?

On the rare occasion there was some sun, I thought it gave me the chance to take some rather nice photos.

The above photo is perhaps my favourite from the sequence I took into the sun

What are they digging for?

The old lighthouse at XXXX, with the rather fierce atlantic breakers coming in - and this is low tide!

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