Friday, July 22, 2011

17. Sarzeau to Concarneau

Wednesday evening as we had eaten such a lovely and complete lunch at St Gustan – we ate fairly lightly but magnificently at Pascale’s hands. The best gazpacho soup with seaweed pate and small very flavorful pickles…hmmm I know you what you are thinking as I would have before trying – but it was fantastic!! This is why you always stay open to new experiences when traveling and find so many things you never knew you would like.
Thursday was just about the best day we could have ever imagined. We spent a restful night at Jean-Marc and Pascale’s home, then woke to perfect weather. After breakfast (Nutella on brioche!) it was time for John and Jean-Marc to finally get a bike ride together, and Lynn and Pascale to attend the local market.
Our bike ride was fantastique…we rode all over the presque-isle where Sarzeau is located, on small roads without much motor traffic. What a joy, the scenery was spectacular with woods, tiny towns, and constant views of the Golfe du Morbihan or the open sea, without constant fear of death by auto collision. I continue to love the riding environment here, where cyclists are not viewed as targets by angry drivers.We took some photos, but no action shots…we were too fast for that! Jean-Marc and I are well matched as cyclists; his love of music was a constant pleasure during the ride. We ended our ride about the time the ladies returned from the market.
Lynn writing: Pascale and I spent the morning in the market – she bought fish so fresh from the market – the shrimp were still moving around!! And another filet of fish called bar…later as we ate this magnificent feast on the porch of their lovely home in a nice warm sun…it was just heavenly!! The other highlight of the market morning for me ( Lynn) was being able to buy an entire Mariniere outfit of clothes--- horizontal stripes are the thing here and I was completely tired of constantly wearing black or brown! It was just so much fun to spend the time with Pascale looking around the market and chatting in French…
John writing again: Later in the morning , Pascale drove us all on a tour of some beautiful ports or harbors near Sarzeeau. Jean-Marc is a sea dog of long experience, having sailed across the Atlantic 2 times (once with Pascale as his crew), plus other sailing adventures all over the world including Antarctica. His love of sailing and the sea infused us with the same enthusiasm. First stop was Port Navalo, with hundreds of pleasure boats moored in a perfect harbor. We could see several of the other islands in Golfe du Morbihan, including one owned by a friend of Jean-Marc and Pascale. That one is “Ile Longue” (Long Island), where they live without running water or electricity! Jean-Marc showed us the incredibly strong tidal current that runs along the port, where boats can really zoom in or out with fast-rushing water during the tide changes. The scenery and company were perfect. We walked, we looked, and moved on.
Next stop was Port du Crouesty, largest port in Brittany. It was crammed with pleasure sailing boats, plus many larger ones capable of trans-Atlantic trips. I took a pic or two showing the forest of masts at the slips. We stayed a very short time, as the ambiance was crowded and a bit touristy away from the boats!

Last of our stops was a small harbor we can’t remember the name of, but memorable in every other way! This one had lots of small sail boats tied up, and people living aboard a few. There were dozens of colorful plastic dorys leaned up against a wall on shore…they are the boats that owners use to paddle out to their sail boats and then back to shore. It made a beautiful scene. We walked out into the harbor a bit on a concrete oyster pool, watched some children catching and playing with crabs, soaked in the sea air and sounds, then returned “home” for lunch and farewells. Our new friends Jean-Marc and Pascale have been unbelievably kind and generous with us. We had the best days of our trip with them, and can't thank them enough for everything.

After leaving Sarzeau, we steered for Lorient, hoping to see the  German U-Boat harbor and facilities there. The town of Lorient ended up looking very drab and uninteresting, with lots of slab-sided buildings and boring architecture. Then we remembered: this place was probably flattened by Allied bombing during the world war, so all the buildings were relatively new. We found the tourist office, and learned that the U-Boat installation has been converted to commercial and pleasure use, with nothing much remaining of the wartime facilities. So, we passed on riding a boat out to see, and resumed our drive to Concarneau.
Concarneau was a short haul from Lorient, so we followed the GPS instructions and drove all over this port town until finding our unique hotel. Wow! It’s right on the beach, with a terrace room for us overlooking the sea. The unique thing about this place is the rooms and public spaces are all done up as though you are on an old oceanliner! Our room has a bulkhead door into the bathroom, porthole in the door, old steamliner fittings and antique furnishings, etc. Even our terrace is trimmed out like the railing of an old liner! 
We walked Cancarneau, and visited the ancient walled fortress town on a small island in the harbor. We survived the crowded touristy main streets inside, packed with shops and people. Our escape was walking the ramparts…you can stroll atop the thick walls. They were at least 6-8 feet thick. We looked out the mouth of the harbor like ancient defenders would have done, and took pictures instead of firing cannon from the walls. There was a really cheesy circus inside the walls too, but we passed.
Walking back to our hotel, we realized we waited too long to buy a baguette, cheese and wine for a snack supper....everyone closes at 7:00pm. So, we found a place to buy a bottle of Cidre (Brittany’s specialty, fermented apple cider), and picnic’d on our terrace with the fruit Lynn bought at the market this morning.

PIC captions: John and Jean-Marc - 2 cool guys ready to ride.
                          Trois amis with dory collection in background.
                          Good-bye pic. Note how EVERYONE dresses en Bretagne...except Jackson the dog.
                          Lynn on terrace Hotel Ker-Moor, Concarneau.
                          Concarneau pleasure craft port.
CLICK here for all photos and vids:
2011 Dinan and Paris French Adventure

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