Pink Granite & Turquoise Waters
As most who have visited Brittany will confirm, there are a lot of pleasant discoveries to be made along the way to the "main attractions". Two examples are the villages of Longuivy de la Mer and Tréguier. Loguivy-de-la-mer is a pretty fishing village
especially known for the Loguivy blue lobster, "the real Breton lobster" as the locals will have you know! One can order a seafood platter from "Chez Simon" the local fishmonger, all beautifully prepared and ready to eat or dine at the charming little local restaurant - La Frégate. As this blue lobster is so important to the region and they want to present it in the best possible way, a days notice is required in both cases. We tried both variations ofcourse and enjoyed the experience tremendously. However, the lobster we ate at the Frégate was definitely the winner. It was prepared perfectly, accompanied by a beautifully balanced sauce, a variety of locally grown organic vegetables and served with a cool glass of Puilly Fumè - bliss!
We stopped by the village of Trègier on our way to the famous Perros Guirec. This attractive little town is best known for being the birthplace of St Yves, the patron saint of lawyers. It has a splendid cathedral dating back to the 14th century in which he is buried and honoured with prayers and candles. Catholic lawyers from around the world make pilgrimages to Tréguier to pay homage to their patron saint. Born into a family of minor nobles in 1253, Yves studied theology and law at university; he went on to become an ecclesiastical judge known for looking after the sick and poor. Tréguier is dotted with half-timbered houses dating back to the 15th century and is home to the 17th century house where the writer and philosopher Ernest Renan was born. To refuel, a wonderful three course lunch at "La Table du Marchè".
Most tourists consider Perros Guirec and the neighbouring Ploumanac`h highlights of their visit to Brittany. Perros, or ‘Pen-Ros’ in Breton, means ‘top of the mound’. This peninsula with an attractive blend of scenic coastal roads and fine sandy beaches is a lively resort, known for its sustainable development efforts, The historic town centre is home to traditional seaside villas and the church of Saint-Jacques. St. Jacques is an absolute must when in Perros Guirec as it is a rare example of well preserved Romanesque architecture with a special beauty and serene vibe. The office of tourism recommended the coastal walk to Ploumanac`h which we embarked upon expecting to encounter rocky and challenging stretches along an untouched coastline. Instead, we found a smooth well trodden path crowded with tourists all trying to get their selfies just right! No need for trekking boots here, even flipflops would suffice! The imposing, pink granite rocks, some of them more than 20 metres high are 300 million years old and stretch over an area of 25 hectares, forming a dazzling backdrop with the famous lighthouse and turquoise sea. Though definitely worth the visit, one needs a healthy dose of stamina and patience to enjoy the experience.
There are so many wonderful cities and villages to visit in Brittany that one is spoilt for choice. As this is our first journey in this beautiful part of France, we decided to move along the coast avoiding the very large cities and focusing as much as possible on the natural beauty of the coastline. One less visited but very special place is the most westerly point of Brittany called "La Pointe St. Matheiu". According to legend, the merchants of Léon were miraculously saved from drowning off this headland as they brought back the body of the Apostle Matthew. The first monastery was founded here in the 6th century to house Saint Matthew’s relics. Destroyed to a large extent during the French revolution, just the Roman façade of the abbey remains today. At the edge of the steep cliffs battered by the sea and winds, a striking lighthouse watches over the ruins of this majestic abbey. Sharing this once sacred space is a more disturbing monument, that commemorating the fallen marines of World War I. It was errected in 1927 in the Art Deco style of the time and is in my opinion one of the most poignant memorials I have ever seen. A slim simple pillar with beautiful graphics leading up to the mourning figure of a French mother at the top. To digest all of this beauty and emotion a splendid three course meal at "Le Bistrot 1954" was just what the doctor ordered!
Having reached the most westerly point of Brittany, we turned our attention to the south-east and all the treasurers it had to offer. More on that in our next blog......