Basilique Notre Dame du Roncier

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist.  The locals were wrong – summer had not arrived in Southern Brittany or at least not on the permanent basis they suggested.  A day in Josselin was spent dodging monsoon-like showers beneath a Primark umbrella designed to collapse after just one.

In an earlier post (Perfect Day) I observed that it is good to remember old friends (it was Jim Clark – my first and last real hero). To be carved in marble must be one of the ultimate accolades and a first class ticket to eternal remembrance – this is Marguerite de Rohan lying next to her other half, Olivier de Clisson, in Basilique Notre Dame du Roncier, Josselin.


But there is a twist – imagine spending eternity with this little chap nibbling at your feet:

How much is that doggy...

Rochefort en Terre

Rochefort en Terre is a beautiful old town, a “Petite Cité de Caractére”, a “Plus Beaux Villages de France” in the Morbihan department of Brittany.  On a hot Sunday in May it was surprisingly quiet, it seems purpose-built for coach trips and cruise ship excursions – see the mice in their million hordes, from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads.  It is just a little too well preserved.

The streets are “dotted with artists and craftspeople: potters, a candle maker, a toymaker” – all that was missing was a National Trust gift shop.

The Chateau up the hill is a little more ragged around the edges and all the better for it:

At the Chateau In the high street At the Chateau In the high street Head at the Chateau Door knocker at the Chateau In the back lanes The Chateau Chapel


Perfect Day

It was a dull morning with no immediate prospect of change.  Consequently I donned the headphones, switched on the laptop and escaped into the world of Breaking Bad – I am up to Season 4, Episode 7.  As the series progresses Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is developing a disturbing likeness to my middle son – fortunately the connection is purely visual.

This was followed by a trip to Manoir Automobile Du Village De Loheacheaven!  How I have missed this on previous trips to Brittany I do not know. Naturally the displays have a distinctly Gallic flavour but this is of no consequence. The highlights are the Ferrari section, a full Formula 1 grid, a glorious collection of Group B rally cars and a carbon fibre tub to climb into and pretend 🙂  Outside there is a rallycross stage and a tarmac circuit – some distance from their natural home, three NASCAR Chevys of unknown vintage were circulating at about seven tenths.

Lancia Audi Lancia

This video captures perfectly the wondrous insanity that was Group B Rallying – listen for the “Dear God” exclamation at about 4 minutes 45 seconds – quite restrained considering:

F1 Grid Manoir Automobile Du Village De Loheac Renault F1 Peugeot

It’s good to remember old friends…..

It's good to remember old friends

The icing on the cake was a trip to Caden Golf Course under a perfect sky.  A nine hole course with eighteen hole prices it was, nonetheless, a very enjoyable round – at just under 6000 yards over eighteen holes it is a testing tract with some quite alarming tee positions, particularly the second.

CadenThroughout this perfect day, the beloved followed, uncomplaining 🙂

Just a perfect day
you made me forget myself
I thought I was
someone else, someone good


Around Foleux

Travel Theme: Blossom.  These are dangerous times. The skies are clear, the temperature on the rise and rural France in blossom looks stunning. This is when we start to dream of homes in Brittany and with semi-serious curiosity press our noses against estate agents’ windows.  Look at the price of that – sell up and we could afford two!

Fortunately sanity will kick in once we get back to Northumberland – almost everywhere looks great in the sunshine but return in the depths of winter and there is every chance that the dream idyll has transformed into somewhere deadly silent and cold – Perdition Cottage, Gehenna Road, Hades.

It can be fun to dream though – here are come colour images of what has been turning our heads (the last, Tyn y Coed, is our temporary residence):

Around Foleux Across the Marais Down the lanes Le Rohello The Port From the Marais
The holiday home


La Gacilly

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Works of Art.  In the depths of winter, it is days like this we will remember. The summer heat has arrived in southern Brittany and several locals have assured us it is here to stay; I trust they are right.

La Gacilly is a gem, sleepily French and full of ‘artisans’ shops – beautiful things we have no intention of buying. The town sits above the L’Aff where the best memories can be found – the Photo Festival and the Day Boats.  The morning was spent wandering the outdoor galleries, galettes for lunch (what else) and the afternoon floating down the L’Aff to Glénac – a glorious stretch of river where iridescent kingfishers skit knee-high above dappled water.

Photographs of photographs, some of them very familiar, seems a bit of a cheat but maybe the setting adds another dimension:

Photo Festival Photo Festival Photo Festival Photo Festival

(click on the images to enlarge)

We always struggle to acclimatise with French opening hours, businesses that should be adopting an Albert E. Arkwright approach to commerce remain determinedly shut. In conversation with a La Gacilly local, we were given one possible explanation.  There are a range of administrative and tax incentives for businesses with limited turnover – there is no rush to make money – achieve your maximum turnover in the first six months and you may as well shut for the rest of the year.  As a tax regime this seems counter-productive but it undoubtedly helps preserve a slower pace of life which is no bad thing. C’est la vie.

Cathedral St Pierre

I thought I had been to Vannes before but when we arrived I didn’t recognise any of it – I am not sure what that might indicate.  For certain, I have never entered Cathedral St Pierre before which is unusual; I am always attracted to the grand churches and cathedrals of Europe. This is not based on any inherent religiosity but because they offer sanctuary, although probably not of the sort intended.  I like their cool shadows, the bible-black silence and there is always something of interest – none are the same. Most of all they are an escape from shoe shops, leather goods and all those places that appeal to the beloved, a girl born to shop.

The Fuji X100s sees in the dark and therefore avoids use of an intrusive flash (and the resulting harsh shadows) – all of the the indoor images were shot at ISO 6400.

The doors Reflections Table and text Looking to the light

(click on the images to enlarge)

The French Connection

We have been buried deep in rural France these last few days, sans Internet, sans everything. That is, until this morning when everything suddenly burst into life – a bit like rural French plumbing, rural Internet connectivity is just fine until it goes wrong.

I am not that fond of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in a right hand drive car  but we negotiated St Malo to Foleux without incident, despite the gallons of water pouring from the heavens – more bad plumbing.  It was worse the effort though – this is a heavenly, quiet retreat, tucked away on the banks of La Vilaine.

The winds have been high and the skies occasionally ominous these last few days but we are forecast high pressure tomorrow.  There is every chance that the celestial plumbing will fix itself much like the Internet connection.  We remain optimistic:

Penestin Penestin Penestin Port de Foleux Le Ruaud Marais de Vilaine Marais de Vilaine Dappled horse

(click on the images to enlarge)