Brittany does not actually get more rain than the south of France, it’s just the rain is more regular up here in the green north whereas the south is subject to violent summer thunderstorms with heavy downpours – we should know – we have been caught in a few of them in the past!
Anyway, we made the best of it by doing some shopping for the gîtes including a jaunt around IKEA in Brest – you can kill plenty of time in that behemoth of Scandinavian design. We came home with a fully laden car – La Bête certainly does earn her keep!
The port lies at the end of a peninsula in Morlaix bay. It is a town of granite with a privateer past and a 16th-century heart. The attractive historic center is often missed by people passing through from the ferry port which is a great pity. Roscoff is home to Brittany Ferries which was started by Alexis Gourvennec, a Breton farmer, in the 1960’s to ship local produce to south west England.
The restored gothic church of Notre Dame de Croatz Batz is well worth a visit. You can take a boat trip to see the Château de Taureau or take a short ferry ride to the Ile de Batz (pronounced ‘Ba’), where you can hire a bike to explore the island which is only 4 km long. Here you will find the Jardin Exotique Georges-Delaselle. The fruit and vegetables produced on the island enjoy a reputation for being some of the finest in the region due to the seaweed collected by the lslanders which is used as a fertiliser.
Onions are celebrated during the mid-August Fête de l'Oignon Rose. Expect music, dancing and onions by the bucketload! Roscoff is also a well known centre for Thalassotherapy which is a seawater cure that is very popular with the French.
The gardens have huge colourful rockeries, a pond with turtles which floating lazily in the warm sunshine and lots of gum trees, palms and cacti.
From the highest point, the towering Rock Hievec, you can enjoy panoramic views the Bay of Morlaix, Roscoff and Carantec. On arrival we were swamped by hoards of tiny little French pupils on a day out. Most were not very engaged with their surroundings but they only looked to be around 6 or 7 so it was hardly surprising. They were at their most charming as they posed for photos singing out “whee-ski!” as they smiled for the camera. Funny what they pick up from the English language.
Unfortunately Andy’s moules marinieres were not so successful – over a third of the mussels were not open and the ones that were had tiny little mussels, not like the big juicy ones he has had elsewhere in the past, so he will not be recommending them I’m afraid! The Sancerre wasn’t bad, I got to enjoy that on my own as Andy was driving – oh well at least one of us enjoyed the meal!
Afternoon tea, consisting of some treats from a local patisserie, was taken perched on rocks looking out at the turquoise sea which was punctuated by splashes of white as gannets fished for their own tea.
We took a stroll along a windswept beach and discovered a picturesque cove. It looked like something that you would find on an island in the South Pacific not on the north coast of Finistere! It was a tranquil spot with hardly another person in sight, though I imagine during summer it would be a different story, who could resist such an inviting spot on a hot August day?
The walk started from the village of Landeleau which is less than a ten minute drive from the gites. We took a picnic lunch and headed from the village down a wooded valley to the river Aulne. This was the first time either of us had seen the actual river and not the canalised section which forms part of the Nantes-Brest canal. The river proper is much smaller and flows tranquilly through beautiful countryside. The path was a bit wet underfoot after the rain but a bit of mud never hurt anyone – you just need to go prepared!
The path emerged into the sunshine at a communal campsite, the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the river sparkle as it tumbled over a weir.
From here we turned inland and traversed the gentle hills of the Poher, stopping at the top of one to enjoy a picnic with a panoramic view of the Montagnes Noir (Black Hills) to the south.
The walk was 18 kms (11 miles) in length and we didn’t meet a single other walker. I guess it would be different during the school holidays when the camp site would be a popular place to stay but still I can’t imagine the walk itself ever being busy. Anyway, we were pleased that we had done it, there were a couple of false turnings but that is not unusual on one of our walks. It was the first walk of any distance that we had done for some time. Hopefully some of our guests will be able to enjoy it in the future too.