Cap Fréhel and the coast of Emerald

La côte d’Emeraude, the “coast of Emerald”, is between Cap Fréhel and Saint Malo, on the North-Eastern coast of Brittany. This part of Brittany is less typical, less of a picture-perfect postcard than many of the places I have visited so far. The local stone is pink sandstone, not granite. The local dialect was Gallo,Continue reading “Cap Fréhel and the coast of Emerald”

Tréguier – a tale of two cities

Tréguier, a pretty ville de caractère, or city of character, is the capital of the Trégor, in the west of the Côtes d’Armor (22). It is famous for its beautiful cathedral, and its 15th and 16th colombages houses, with picturesque wooden beams. Thanks to its river port with easy access to the Channel, the cityContinue reading “Tréguier – a tale of two cities”

Trégastel – Vallée des Traouïero

The coast of pink granite is truly a lovely landscape. Big pink granite, rounded off by the elements, line the coast of Trebeurdun, Trégastel and Perros-Guirrec. They look like voluptuous hippos, hauled up on the beach, sun-burnt, sleepy. Saint Mamert, Pancrace and Boniface are called the “Saints de Glace” “Icy Saints”, as between the 11thContinue reading “Trégastel – Vallée des Traouïero”

The mine of Locmaria-Berrien, or the best kind of explorations

Two narrow canals, one fed by the lake in Huelgoat, one by the rivière d’Argent, go throughthe woods and around the valley, à flanc de colline, mid-slope. The upper canal is full of trouts. It is home to mallards and wagtails, and crosses enchanting beech woods. The green leaves, still tender at the end ofContinue reading “The mine of Locmaria-Berrien, or the best kind of explorations”

Huelgoat and Bretons d’ailleurs

Eventually I tired of the wind along the coast. I was near Roscoff,and it was blowing from dawn to dusk, kicking up the dust and driving off trains of thoughts. I headed both inland and inwards, to Huelgoat. Huelgoat, “the upper wood” in Breton, is pronounced “U-èl-go-a-t”. It is a quaint village in the centerContinue reading “Huelgoat and Bretons d’ailleurs”

Monsters, saints, queens, and shipwrecks

The Coast of Legends is dotted with shoals, rocks, islets, islands, peninsulas. Some islands are accessible on foot at low tide still, if you don’t mind risking wet feet. Rocks seem to rise up to the ocean. Mounds, towers of huge granite boulders won’t budge for waves or sea spray. Some look like petrified monsters,Continue reading “Monsters, saints, queens, and shipwrecks”

Tall tales of stone

On the southern bank of the aber Ildut, people have widened and deepened the river valley. The local granite, the renown “Laber”, is beautiful, with its pink feldspar crystals up to five centimetres long. It resists well to erosion, and is, apparently, easy to carve. It is also (relatively) easy to transport from here, asContinue reading “Tall tales of stone”

From Pointe Saint Mathieu to aber Ildut

In this treeless, ever-windy landscape, an important industry was the exploitation of wrack. In French it’s goémon, from the Breton word, or varech, which has the same Anglo-Scandivian root as the English word. It was used as a fuel, fertiliser, and animal feed. As you walk along the cliff top, you can still see theContinue reading “From Pointe Saint Mathieu to aber Ildut”

The Nantes-to-Brest canal and the land of Brittany

The technological advances gave nineteenth century people the sort of faith that can moves mountains. The canal connects Brest – the strategic military harbour at the westernmost tip of France, to Nantes, the historical capital of Brittany, and to the Loire valley. The Aulne is the first of five rivers whose courses were canalised. TheContinue reading “The Nantes-to-Brest canal and the land of Brittany”

The Aulne maritime and the Nantes-to-Brest canal

East of the stunning pont de Trévénez (discover here), you go up the Aulne maritime, the estuary of the Aulne river. At Port-Launay, a lock stops the tides, and turns the meandering river into the canal de Nantes à Brest. But a place called Le Passage, fifteen kilometres down river from Port-Launay, was the ancestralContinue reading “The Aulne maritime and the Nantes-to-Brest canal”