Category Archives: Brittany and back

2019 trip to Brittany – our wanderings across the North Coast

Bretagne and back – Day 7

Mont-St-Michel – 29th June
Setting off early (well early for us) and away by 9:15am we thought we would get to Mont-St-Michel, have 2 or 3 hours there and head off to a small 3 van Aire for our last overnight stop before the ferry tomorrow. As usual the best laid plans can go awry (I say as usual, but I shouldn’t as sometimes things go as planned) and our timings were a little askew. That takes me neatly into philosophy, no you can’t read this blog and not have some, trust me it’s worth thinking about. Heraclitus (c535 BCE) stated that “No man ever steps in the same river twice” – what did he mean? (by the way I am not a philosopher, so don’t challenge me on this, I just read about them) – well what he is saying is that we live in ever present change and we must accept that things are never the same and no matter what we plan things can (and will) change. Not necessarily ground breaking but bear it in mind next time your plans go awry – think of yourself as a dog on a long lead tied to a cart – you can fight it all you like but you are going with the cart, or you can accept it and go along for the ride and enjoy it.

Which is what we did today. Arriving at Mont St Michel we were later than we wanted after an episode with our cards at a petrol station (nothing new there then) – I think we’ll be ditching the Post Office Euro cards. Trying to get into the right car park at MSM was interesting – no idea which one until after trying 3 a helpful girl eventually said numero 8 (the last car park in the line).
Buses take you over the causeway and drop you off at the ideal photo opportunity. Nothing really prepares you for the magnificence of the structure. It made me just want to stand and take it all in for a good 10 mins and that’s what we did. Amazing.

The magnificent Mont-St-Michel – an awe inspiring view from the walkway


The next 3 hours we spent wandering the ramparts, the lanes and the abbey itself. The abbey was the best part and thoroughly recommended, I think I’ve mentioned before how these monolithic buildings never fail to impress me and the light inside sometimes takes your breath away with the beauty.

Beautiful light in the Abbey

The abbey windows in the chancel

The abbey cloisters – a very peaceful part of the building

The abbey refectory – the monks would eat in silence while one of the monks reads religious instruction from a pulpit (right).

Getting out of the car park was just as interesting, once again the Post Office Euro mastercard failed us at the pay point so we had to revert to our bank credit card before Mont St Michel would release us on our way.
Route Barée – anyone traveling in France using a SatNav or map (or hopefully both) will understand these two words can strike panic into many an English driver and navigator. For the first time (and there have been a few this holiday) we ignored it and took a chance – maybe because it was the weekend there were no workers around, but we sailed through! We were too late to make the 3 van aire higher up towards Cherbourg which isn’t too much of an ordeal as there are plenty around. We got the last space at Agon-Coutanville at 5:45pm, settled in for barbecued pork chops and rosé wine to reflect on the magnificent views of Mont St Michel.
Back home tomorrow with a late ferry at 5:00pm so no hurry to get up and get going.

The people below looking like busy little ants – there were guided walks across the sand and mud – but in 32 degrees in the shade this was not a day to be doing that.

Bretagne and back – Day 6

Leaving Landeda
Au revoir to Les Abers – 28th June 2019

We left Camping Les Abers with smiles on our faces. Was 3 days enough, I think so, we could have stretched another day or two given the weather had changed for the better but inevitably when one is still working there are timetables to keep, a ferry to catch and ultimately the drive home on UK soil. But we are not thinking of that right now- tomorrow we want to get a little closer to Mont-St-Michel and see if we can get a visit in. We were thwarted by the weather last time (or rather we just did not fancy walking around in the rain) so we are looking forward to seeing it close up not from a distance when we first arrived.
Erquy is a small port on the north Brittany coast – we had found the Aire in our ‘go to’ book – ‘All the Aires France – North by Vicarious books. Ours is a little out of date (2015) but we figure still good for another year if you have Plan A, B & C just in case one is closed. This one was not closed – €6 for a secure sight taking 40 vans and right next to the beach with toilets was in our opinion worth it. We arrived early (1:00pm) but by 6:00pm it was getting full – my philosophy on getting to Aires is try and arrive before 5:00pm – no guarantee of a spot but you should have half a chance.
A stroll along the beach (probably a mile long) and I decide it was time for my first swim of 2019 (and maybe my last?) – I don’t do budgie smugglers so my traditional British trunks with a draw string would have to suffice – the problem was the elastic had gone so I had to rely on the drawstring not failing (perhaps I should invest in some budgie smugglers after all). Anyway, the string held so blushes all round were saved.

Leaving Landeda

Bretagne and back – Days 4 & 5

Landeda – Camping les Abers
Nous sommes arrivons – 26th June 2019

Having driven through rain, into sunshine, arrived at our 3-night campsite and settled in with a beautiful sunset the night before – the rain then followed us. I’m not a superstitious bloke but I can’t help the holiday gods have got it in for us this year (see Bonnie Scotland posts). We would not be deterred though and decided that the forecast was looking good for the afternoon and decided on a walk around the peninsula. Heading north out of the campsite we were on the coastal path – the GR34 which runs all around the Brittany coastline. The wind was blowing a hoolly coming from the north, so it was a real struggle. We marvelled at the kite surfers in the shallow Brittany waters thinking what a rush of adrenalin it must be, Janette was convinced she would drown if she tried it even in only 2 feet of water. Janette does not do water anything above ankle level. I love it, but for kite surfing I reckon your arms must be like Arnie Schwarzenegger to hold on to it – there seems to be a harness around the waist which takes a lot of the strain, but I bet the arms still ache. Moving on to the next water sport featured today – wind surfing. Heck those boys and girls can do some serious speed, imagine if they could get a car on board, you’d be over in Brittany before you could say ‘Merci monsieur’ and scoffing those croissants in a jiffy! Needless to say the scenery was magnificent and by the time we turned the corner at the top the wind was behind us.

Deserted beaches on our windy day walk

Some great flora (looks like sea holly – Echinops, but not sure) seen on our walk today

The Breton flag – like the Cornish the Bretons are proud of their heritage and like to show it.

Inevitably at some point during a motor homers blog the talk turns to toilets. Not this time the distress that can sometimes happen when emptying them but about some French toilets on the GR walk. I had mistimed my lunch and coffee and was desperate for number two’s when we came across a wooden shed next to a car park, upon closer inspection it was a loo – saved. On even closer inspection it was a wood shavings loo, never heard of one, never seen one before and without going into too much detail, once your ablutions are complete, you cover the necessary with wood shavings – and you know what? All you could smell was wood, I suggested we change to this method of toiletry for Hilma to Janette – she carried on walking.

Cycling the old rail track to Lannilas – 27th June
Today started dull, windy, misty with a spot or two of rain. We decided on an early walk and lunch before setting off on the bikes to Lannilas about 8-9km away. I had been told the there was an old railway line that had been turned into a Velo Route – so a bit of googling and checking cycling websites I was able to create a GPX route and downloaded it into the Garmin. Off we went looking forward to a flat ride but as usual around the coast you must climb out from the sea first. We wondered when the nice flat bit was going to appear however as ever when cycling in France there is plenty to distract one and it was not long before we were on the old railroad. Into Lannilas just after lunch and it was a sleepy little town, not much happening, so we headed straight to the patisserie and cheered ourselves up with some apple pastries thinking how virtuous we were cycling and wasting all those calories (if only).
Our last day at Camping les Abers and we wandered off to the beach each with our own thoughts of the wonderful spot we were in. I would definitely come back at some point – but there is still so much of Europe to explore we might never make it back here so it’s important to hold those memories in the head.
Next stop – we are heading to Erquy not far from Mont-St-Michel. We want to visit the Abbey rock which we didn’t on the way here as the rain dampened our enthusiasm and we thought we needed some decent weather to appreciate it fully.

We don’t slum it in Hilma – hats off to Janette for being such a wonderful cook xx

Bretagne and back – Day 3

Dramatic coast, mist and a moustached bale.
Brittany in our grasp – 25th June 2019

Leaving Treguier was a little sad as it was such a lovely spot – we could easily have stayed another day or two and explored further, but we had an appointment to keep at Camping les Abers near Landeda. Once again, the coastline was dramatic and the views tremendous as we trundled (we can’t say ‘sped’ or ‘zoomed’ in Hilma because she just doesn’t do that) along the D786 stopping at St Michel en Greve, a huge bay, to watch some tractors and diggers performing what can only be described as mesmerising to-ing and fro-ing, scraping or digging up mud and depositing it further out in the sea by the low tide mark. It’s one of those moments where one has a little inkling of why something is happening but don’t really know the full picture – a bit like life really.
Moving on the weather was slowly improving and we stopped for mid-morning Kuoign Amman cakes – speciality of the region, meant to be the fattiest cakes in Europe – lovely.

HANDS OFF – it’s mine. The wonderful Kouign Amman – burp!

The sea mist was rolling in on this beautiful bay (Baie de Kernic) creating a real ethereal view with white sand and turquoise water.

The mist was rolling and changing the view every 5 mins – Baie de Kernic

There was a strange ‘farmers’ type construction advertising goodness knows what which was quite amusing – not sure about the moustache – perhaps it was a local barber’s advert? Perhaps it was to ward off those holiday makers like us so we don’t spoil their landscape! Whatever it was for – it certainly made us laugh.

What the heck is all this about? Strange moustached bales warding off the incomers? A barber shop advert or the young farmers messing about?

The Kouign Amman (pronounced Queen Amman) was delicious and I think the calories will hang around for a few days. When fitness programs talk about burning calories off, well I reckon this one cake would need a firestorm before they were gone.
Camping de Abers is a wonderful site, small compact hedged off areas taking 3 to 4 caravans or motorhomes, gives each section an air of privacy. We have a fantastic view over looking the bay and Hilma is literally 50 yds from the beach – heaven.
The weather was warmer, the sun was shining, the wine had been cooled, life was good.

Shoes off and away we go – the beach goes for a long way when the tide is out.

This was taken at about 22:30hrs – beautiful

Bretagne and back – Day 2

Onions & Hooped shirts
Breton beckons – 24th June 2019

Heck it was hot last night – 24°C in Hilma at one point. Now I’ve heard all these stories about not sleeping with the windows open on the continent just in case someone inserts a gas tube to knock you out while they rob you. Utter rubbish and nonsense, they would have to be some sophisticated low lives to access that kind of equipment, so I put two fingers up to the urban myth and get a decent night’s sleep with the windows open.
Westwards ho we went heading along the north Brittany coast roads avoiding the major roads which does make for some interesting (and slower) driving. We only take the major N or E roads when we need to make haste or avoid large town centres. The weather had dropped about 10°C by the morning so felt chilly (but still warm quite a few degrees warmer than our recent trip to Scotland) so a good day for traveling. We had an overnight stop in mind at Treguier (N48°47.402’ W003°13.863’) – the road along the north coast is a wonderful drive with plenty of great views to enjoy a coffee or a lunch break. Arriving at the aire about 4:00pm (we try and arrive around this time in the afternoon at most aires to hopefully secure a place) there were plenty of spaces – about 10 motorhomes there already with plenty of space for more. Parking overlooked a tidal river with plenty of shade (should you have the fortune of good weather – unlike today’s drive).

Treguier Aire – Hilma’s overnight stop – FREE

Treguier – a picturesque French town.

Wandering into Treguier we found a picturesque small town with plenty of medieval buildings that reminded us of our time in the Alsace. A quick look around the cathedral – I am not religious but these monolithic structures always impress me in respect of the architecture and craftmanship of days gone by.

An interesting ‘ring’ sculpture suitable for a giant – just inside the arched entrance to Treguier

Architectural splendour in Treguier Cathedral

We decide as the aire was free we would treat ourselves to a meal out later and we were not disappointed – Moules a la Crème in a small restaurant (La Dentelliere) with about 20 covers.

Le Dentellire Restaurant – Treguier. Muscles a la Creme €13.50 – a bargain!

I must say that I have never had muscles so tender and sweet before, a meal to store in the memory banks if I can. Returning to Hilma the spaces had quickly filled up with 21 motorhomes parked up with a few places still left.
It rained heavily in the night, under the trees the drips were doubly large – earplugs were a must for me being a light sleeper and Janette (who usually sleeps through earthquakes and anything else the world can throw at her) also had a bad night’s sleep. Still the aire is a definite recommendation and should you be in the area looking for spot don’t hesitate. When we left the next day, we did see some motorhomes parked in the port car park, so this is obviously a popular destination.
Still no Breton shirts!

Bretagne and back – Day 1

Onions & Hooped shirts
Breton beckons – 23rd June 2019

So, we are off to our Cornish neighbours – the Bretons. Now I’m no history teacher or aficionado but I recently read that Brittany did not really become part of France until 1532. Now I’m not about to delve into the history books and see if this is correct but at least it saved me having to go through another passport control to get into the place.
We sailed from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in a little over 3 hours – imagine if that could have been done in 1532 – where would we be today? Mars at the very least. I digress.
A pleasant crossing and this is our third trip to France in Hilma. We have done the Dover – Calais route twice and I swore never again, one is swayed by the cheapness of the ferries and the speed of getting across, but that drive around the M25 just seems to go on forever and I always feel like chewed cardboard afterwards. Non, non, et non, I have spent a little more and going via Portsmouth, a mere 3 hours drive away.
The night before we did a small Certified Location (CL) site opposite a pub – ha, well organised I thought. Also not too early a start as the Ferry was at 9:00 – they made me try Hilmas new reversing camera – so good it was that I was told to slow down getting on the ferry. Reversing on gave me hope we would be the first off- we very nearly were – 5th to be precise. Mrs. Garmin was fed with the necessary co-ordinates and she was very polite in instructing us.
We were aiming for one of two Aires – we would decide when we arrived which one to use. The first Aire we looked at (St. Pair sur Mer) was a barriered affair and looked uninviting so we moved on to St. Jean le Thomas – a lovely little site that had about 17 spaces (€8). The day was really hot so an evening walk along the beach afforded us fantastic views of Mont St. Michel which we intend to visit tomorrow.

Normandy coastline at St. Jean le Thomas

Game of Thrones star Ian F – with his own dragons shadow from high in the sky (oh and Mont St. Michel in the background – or is it Casterly Rock?)

So day 1 is over – no dramas, plenty of onions to look at in the fields but I await my first view of the Bretagne hooped shirt (not likely as we are still in Normandy!).