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Brittany, June 2018

#1
Thursday June 14 2018
Foggy, drizzly. Sunny and warm in the very late afternoon.

Today we saw the Carnac Alignments, thousands of standing stones in lines in large fields (Neolithic - 6,000 years old). I have wanted to see these stones for a long time. They did not disappoint.

Yesterday late afternoon we drove from Bridport west to Plymouth where we got the 10pm ferry to Roscoff (Brittany Ferries). Traffic can be thick in the southwest so we left much earlier than we needed, leaving time to have dinner at Wagamama (an Asian chain restaurant that we love) in Plymouth, before getting in line for the ferry. We had booked a cabin and I was ready for it to be very small, but it wasn't. It was like a very small, London hotel room. Two very narrow beds, small table, small chair, ensuite bathroom with a shower. We had a window. The boat was not crowded. We boarded, made note of where the car was parked (the last time on a ferry we forgot where we parked the car!), went to the cabin, had a cup of herbal tea, and went to bed. We slept well. The only downside is that we had to get up much earlier than usual - 7am France time which is 6am UK time.

By 8:30 we were driving off the ferry, driving on the right with our car designed for driving on the left. The weather was grizzly - foggy and drizzly. Steve did the driving. My Garmin GPS (SatNav) was not working again and I realized that during the last update some of the maps were deleted! That is why it wasn't working in Italy, but it did work in the UK. It would also work in Finland and Poland, but not France. I used Waze on my mobile phone instead and it worked well.

We stopped in Morlaix for breakfast - espresso and a croissant. We did not have anything on the ferry - too early! We are staying in Morlaix the second week of this trip and the town looked delightful. We found a great cafe in the center and a very good bakery. In the bakery they had a long loaf of bread - several feet long - that they sold by weight. They cut of the size of chunk that you want.

It took about 3 hours to get to La Trinite-sur-Mer. We got to the house at noon and checked in. It is a small cottage on a residential street a block from the harbor. I think we will be comfortable here. The internet sucks but I am using my phone instead of their wifi and it is better.

We walked around town in the drizzle, got groceries, had lunch at home, napped and then felt much better. The rain stopped in the afternoon so we drove to Carnac. This time I drove and it really was not problem. I just say "drive on the right" over and over again. The roads are not busy here, so that helps.

Carnac is a cute town, with a lovely old church. We had coffee at a cafe, got a lot of good info from the tourist office, and then drove to the alignments. At the alignment closest to Carnac, the Menec Alignment, there is a large parking area and a tourist office (Maison de Megalithes). We bought a couple of books and they gave us maps and detailed directions to see the stones the best way, and other sites in the area.

From the tourist office you can walk out to a viewing area but you cannot go into the field with the stones. It is fenced off. You can go in on one of their tours. But if you follow the walking trail, you walk along the alignment and get close enough to touch many of them. We walked along the first alignment and up to the edge of the next one. There are three alignments stretching over a few miles. There are also dolmen, menhir (standing stones) and other prehistoric remains all over the place.

The sun came out while we were walking. We got the car and drove along the three alignments. We will walk them tomorrow. Then back home and drove around our town, La Trinite-sur-Mer. Lots of restaurants and shops, a beautiful harbor with sail boats, lovely old buildings mixed with modern ones. I think we will have a good week!


 
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#5
Friday June 15, 2018
The weather was good today. High 68F, some cloud. Sunny in the afternoon.

In the morning we went to the weekly market in La Trinite-sur-Mer. It is a great market, half food products and half clothes and household goods. We got some organic vegetables, local strawberries, Brittany cheese, local pastries, good bread, and I bought a beach blanket (because the weather forecast shows a hot day next week).

We waked around town a bit more. The street along the harbor is lined with older buildings turned into shops and restaurants. Up from them are the older, historic homes and the church. There is a good looking bakery up by the church. Our vacation rental is on a street going away from the water, lined with a mix of lovely, large older homes and modern homes. We are in a small old cottage in front of the owners larger, modern house.

Lunch at home and then we did a very nice walk around the point. It took two hours and was flat and easy. It reminded me of the Cap d'Antibes, a long point of land with big houses along the water, but a footpath between them and the sea. We had lovely views of the bay, then walked around the point for views of the Carnac beaches. We walked by a salt pond that is being reestablished.

Our friend Dana was supposed to arrive at the Auray train station at 6pm but there are delays, and strikes coming up in the next few days, so we are not picking her up until 8pm. She is from the US and spent the last week in Portugal, then flew to Nantes and train to Auray. She stays here 3 nights then is off to Paris but has to rent a car and drive because of the train strike.






 
#6
Our friend, Dana, an experienced Europe and World traveler, got on an express train instead of the local so when we arrived at Auray to pick her up, she was getting off the train in Quimper, an hour west of us. Her express train went through Auray so fast that she didn’t even see it.

She gets a night in Quimper and we will see her tomorrow morning. These things are so easy to happen when traveling in an area you don’t know!
 
#7
I thought Guerande was in the south of France! Thanks for the info. Everything has Guerande salt here - butter, Carmel candies, even chips (crisps).
Pauline, if you read the first few pages of that book I mentioned above (Fleur de Sel Murders -- follow the Amazon link to "Look Inside"), you will see some vivid descriptions of the area that show why I was intrigued.

Here's another excerpt from the book that explains why the Bretons are so chauvinistic about their salt:
The fleur de sel is the finest and most refined salt of any in the world, and also the most rare. … Right after harvesting it has a violet fragrance and slight rosy shimmer. After drying it’s dazzlingly white. … A mild wind blows the fine salt crystals floating near the surface together, which produces an ice-like layer. Fleur de sel floats on the water. If the wind is too strong or the water in the harvest pools is moved carelessly, the fleur de sel sinks to the ground and is lost.” Unlike ordinary salt, which is 99% sodium chloride, it contains 60 different trace elements. ”That’s what gives it its unique flavor. It’s much milder, yet tastier, more aromatic and full-bodied than crude salt. Without any bitter notes. The only salt with a bouquet!”
I can't recall ever having fleur de sel, but now I want to try it! I suppose only the most exclusive Guerande salt is the true fleur de sel, which must be very expensive to produce.
 

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