The coast of South Finistère (6/6)

Next onto the Pointe du Raz, the western-most tip of Cap Sizun, and the westermost promontory of France. Imagine Brittany as the head of a monster, facing left. A little reminiscent of the depiction of Hell on the calvaries. Jesus visiting Hell meets Adam and Eve, almost swallowed whole by an enormous, open-mouthed monster, theContinue reading “The coast of South Finistère (6/6)”

The coast of South Finistère (5/6)

Further along the coast, you hit the baie d’Audierne. The landscape is huge in all directions. The sky, the sea, the land feel infinite. The sand dune and the beach stretch almost to the horizon. During the day, the sun dazzles and burns, creates a haze. The light clouds move at speed. Only at nightContinue reading “The coast of South Finistère (5/6)”

The coast of South Finistère (4/6)

The legend says fractals were discovered by scientists trying to measure the coast of Brittany. In Kerdruc, you can have a conversation from one of the harbour’s quay to the next. But if you wanted to shake hands on a deal and couldn’t cross the water, you would have to walk for several days. TheContinue reading “The coast of South Finistère (4/6)”

The coast of South Finistère (3/6)

Along the coast of Cornouailles, sometimes the sea and land gently meander together and merge. The sunlight, the tides, the rivers and the land combine and create ever-shifting landscapes, where nature is bewitching. Sometimes called rias after the Galicians (?), these estuaries are abers to the Bretons “bretonnant” (speaking Breton). This name points to theContinue reading “The coast of South Finistère (3/6)”

The coast of South Finistère (2/6)

Further west, Pont-Aven is a pretty town on the river Aven (very similar to the old British Avon). Its mills used the tumultuous waters of the river, crashing around big granite boulders. It is the centre of pays bigouden, which is to Brittany what the Highlands are to Scotland. Le pays bigouden has given BrittannyContinue reading “The coast of South Finistère (2/6)”

The coast of South Finistère (1/6)

Finistère (29), from the Latin finis terrae, the end of the Land. Sitting at the tip of the Eurasian landmass, it’s all about its end, it’s all about the coast. On the South coast, this area is called Cornouaille, similar but distinct from the more famous Cornouailles britanniques (Cornwall). Near Moeland-sur-Mer, the waves (vagues) crashContinue reading “The coast of South Finistère (1/6)”

Marches of Brittany, old and new (4/4)

As I reach the south eastern coast of Brittany, I hit another nuance of the marches… The gulf of Morbihan is an incredible natural harbour, where sea and land endlessly meet. Marshes and silt banks alternate with small beaches, and estuaries where the sailing boats are moored. Straights, with strong currents and dangerous whirlpools atContinue reading “Marches of Brittany, old and new (4/4)”

Marches of Brittany, old and new (3/4)

Travelling onwards, the forest opens up and gorse grows between the trees. Those – birch and maritime pines – become fewer and fewer, then disappear. This is another marginal landscape – the landes. The word is usually translated by moor, but picture yourself instead a forest of gorse. The Lande de Rennes, near Campénéac, isContinue reading “Marches of Brittany, old and new (3/4)”

Marches of Brittany, old and new (2/4)

As I travelled South-West, I crossed into Morbihan (56). Once part of Brittany proper, as the name indicates – “little sea”, in Breton, named after the gulf of Morbihan. The place names now have a definite Breton feel to them, beginning in ker- (meaning “fortified farm” in Breton, similar to the Welsh “Caer”) or endingContinue reading “Marches of Brittany, old and new (2/4)”

Marches of Brittany, old and new (1/4)

In the last two weeks I crossed from the pretty Normandy to the beautiful Brittany. Before I write on, a disclaimer; I consider myself a Breton as much as a Parisian. I may be a more than a little biased. Brittany is a headstrong piece of land, at the western end of Eurasia, that refusesContinue reading “Marches of Brittany, old and new (1/4)”