Finistère

This was to be our last day for exploring Brittany. On Saturday we move to Normandy for our last week in France and tomorrow is tagged for sorting ourselves out and preparing for the move. Last night Majella had prepared an itinerary that would take us west, into the Department of Finistère, literally the end of the earth though we did not plan to go quite that far.

The morning dawned clear and we were on our way by 8:00 am, with me at the wheel and Majella in charge of navigation and music. We headed for Paimpol which is still in the Cote d’Armor but further north and west than we had been. When we arrived there about 9:00 am Majella directed us toward the beach by following signs but we never actually reached a beach.

We did get to the top of a hill with a viewpoint but it was on a one way loop and our way was blocked just short of the viewpoint by a truck pumping out a septic system. We pulled to one side, walked past the truck to the view point, admired the view, and took photos. One interesting feature was the wartime bunker system that had been dedicated for the use of a rare species of bat.

Once we had seen enough we walked back to the car thinking that traffic was very light and we could go back the wrong way to avoid squeezing past the truck. Unfortunately a local service vehicle had just appeared behind us so there was no going back. The driver of the original truck assured us that we could squeeze past and helped direct us through. We held our breath and made it.

In the town of Paimpol we spent an hour or so wandering the streets and making a few purchases of jewellery and other souvenirs. Pauline found a cross she had been looking for and Majella found some quirky ear rings featuring Breton women. John scored a pepper grinder with Breton images. We had coffee at the restaurant of Hôtel Le K’Loys before returning to the car.

In our researching last night I had looked for information about the best beaches in Britanny and found that one of them was near Lannion on the pink granite coast. From Paimpol we drove to Lannion where we were caught for a time in a traffic snarl. Once we cleared that we headed for Perros-Gueric which was one of the local beaches. It was lunchtime by then and we were looking for a restaurant with a view of the water. Majella’s navigation landed us at the top of the hill in the middle of Perros-Gueric. We saw several restaurants as we drove through town but none with any chance of a view. I managed to park near the centre of town and we began to walk toward the restaurants but thought we should at least look over the hill to see what might be there.

DSC_4935We had walked about 800 metres downhill toward the beach when we found Hôtel Ker Mor, which was perched above the beach with a splendid view over the water. The restaurant was at the front of the hotel on ground level and we were given a table against the full length windows with unimpeded views across the bay. John ordered cod fish with vegetables and red wine and declared both good. Majella, Pauline and I settled for the fixed menu of the day which offered a choice of main meals, Café Gourmand, and a drink (rosé for Majella and me, white wine for Pauline). Majella and Pauline had a dish with three kinds of fish garnished with prawns. I had roast duck with roast potatos and green salad. Fish mousse and crusty bread were brought as entrées. We were astonished when the Café Gourmand arrived. We had expected coffee and we got that, espressos, but accompanied by small portions of almond meal cake, mud cake, icecream, and whipped cream. It was a gourmand’s delight.

DSC_4947After lunch I walked back up the hill to fetch the car while the others explored the beach briefly. Then we set the GPS for Morlaix where we planned to visit the Cairn de Barnenez near the village of Plouezoc’h. It was almost 4:00 pm by the time we arrived there for a brief exploration of what is the largest megalithic mausoleum in Europe and an amazing 6000 year old structure. The rocks were transported from a nearby island and arranged to create arched burial chambers within the large structure. It was lucky to survive plans to turn it into a quarry last century. John was overjoyed to have added it to his list of megalithic sites visited over the past three weeks.

DSC_4972The cairn was our first stop in Finistère. We drove further west to Roscoff through farmland with very different agricultural produce. This part of Brittany produces abundant fruit and vegetables, particularly artichokes. We passed several fields of these and other vegetables in various stages of development. Majella had hoped that a visit to this region would result in her seeing the iconic Breton man in striped shirt on his bicycle with a string of onions. She was thwarted in that desire but she did find some very interesting goodies in a chocolatèrie and we were fascinated by the different decor in the church of Notre-Dame de Croaz Batz. It was built in the 16th century and features an arched timbered ceiling with coloured ribs and other decoration. The figures resemble the figureheads commonly seen on the bows of ships and acknowledge the good fortune brought to the town via its maritime enterprises.

Our day had been planned to wander west on the slow roads and use the highway for a quick trip home. Of the 140 kilometres from Roscoff to Trébry, no more than 30 or 40 were on roads with a limit below 110 kph. We made the trip home in a little more than 90 minutes.

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