French Britian

Trip Start Jun 30, 2012
Trip End Jun 04, 2013

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Flag of France  , Brittany,
Saturday, September 22, 2012

After a month of almost complete isolation in Cornwall, we've now decided to be more sociable. Although we're once again in a cottage the middle of nowhere, in a small village (Lambel) on the edge of a thick forest, this time our cottage is one of four built around a common courtyard, and mainly leased to visitors from Britain or Ireland.

For Naomi it is paradise, as she’d missed the company of other children, and spends most of her time in the pool, or outside playing on the garden toys with all the other children. She even protests when we offer to take a trip as she prefers it here. We also enjoy the change, and in our first week we spend many evenings with an English couple, and are sad when their time there comes to an end.

Phil and I enjoy the nearby forest. We occasionally go walking or jogging (Phil) in the forest. The first time I went alone into the forest, I jumped at every sound of a passing squirrel, snapping twigs, or a passing bird. I made sure to remember every turn I took, with my heart beating fast, and not just from the exercise.

Naomi on the other hand refuses to enter the forest. After we explained to her that she is not allowed to leave food out at night because of the foxes, she is convinced that Swiper (from Dora and Boots) is waiting for her in the woods to grab her toys.

It's been said that one can never enter the exact same river twice, and this is even truer when the river is in two different locations. One of the challenges of my trip (and life), is my tendency to fall in love with one place, and want to stay there, even if it's just at the experience level, than compare to the following places. I admit, I fell in love with Cornwall, and from the moment we left, I looked for the same experience, the same spontaneous flow, the quiet, the calm and charm.

Lambel was different. First of all, Brittany has ten times the area and population of Cornwall and has therefore needed much longer travel time and planning. Secondly we are in France, not England. Thirdly, we deliberately chose a different type of accommodation, and most importantly, we now have something to compare to.

So it took us a few days to leave comparisons aside, and just experience what there is, and find what works best for us here.

I love the sea and water, so it’s no coincidence that I’ve enjoyed most our days on the coast, where we explored lagoons and natural beaches (particularly in the Gulf of Morbihan), and the days in which we sailed to isolated islands, or walked along rivers and lakes, or drove along narrow coastal sandbars to picturesque peninsulas (my favorite is Quiberon).  One of the advantages of France is that the water here is a bit more warmer than in England (warm is a relative term, imagine the beach of Tel Aviv in February) , and we’ve been able to join Naomi paddling in the sea a little more often.

On other days we walked to old towns, where time appears to have stopped still, including the beautiful town of Josselin. We visited ancient castles, crossed bridges over lazily flowing streams, and wandered through stone-paved squares with old Tudor houses.

Phil loves history and archaeology, so we dedicated a day trip to see the ancient burial mounds and standing stones around the city of Carnac. Hundreds of giant rocks arranged in straight lines, and occasionally circles, spread over a vast area. They are presumed to have served in some prehistoric ritual, but it is shrouded in mystery.

Brittany is in many ways not like France, in terms of the identity of the residents. They see themselves as part of the Celtic people who lived there in the past. They maintain a separate language, and the street signs are in both French and Breton. They are proud of their separate identity, and the black-and-white flag of Brittany flies proudly alongside the French flag. Even the food is different, and after adjusting to the late meal times in France, we developed a taste for Breton crepes with Nutella, as well as savoury crepes called Galettes, and cider.

The weather was kind to us, and most days were fair, even if sometimes dull and cloudy.  But In the last two days it has rained heavily, everything looks grey and gloomy, and we are pleased that the time has come for us to continue south.

Phil's Version:

Castles, cairns, and Celtic crepes – cool :)
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