The Tour 2022 (F): Penhors la Mer + Pointe de la Torche

Looking Good

Thanks to campsite-bingo, I see more and more of the wonderful landscape between Pointe de la Torche and Pointe du Raz.

lovely region

The first camping of choice has decided to invest in a hilarious small pool rather than in general maintenance. Worse, the distance to the coast exceeds reasonable metrics. Being slightly over-organized, I juggle with a printed campsite guide, a tomtom navi and google maps information on my smartphone. Best of such spontaneous actions is the unplanned sightseeing along the way.

Wonderful churches along the way

Hector is all up for it, feeling slim enough for tiniest roads, turn-round-manoeuvres and hours of trial-and-error research. Finally, we reach a charming campsite somewhere between Penhors and Plovan: Camping du Littoral. With a focus on mobile homes, it has two (2) camper van emplacements on-site plus a huge meadow. Not before long, Hector settles down next to the electricity plug, while I walk down to the beach with a bikini and a straw hat.

Beach Time!

Staying in a protected region means: few civilization. Still, Sunday evening comes with a concert at the beach bar.

Good Times

Next temptation on my list: Surfing! At the local surf school, I rent a board and a thick wetsuit and get into the waves. Within minutes, I am the Queen of the Whitewash again. Despite few occasions during past years, some surf routine is still there, getting more and more solid.

Reine de la Mousse

One of the landmarks around is Pointe de la Torche. I fancy it might be like a huge rock formation with dramatic outlooks. Once there, I realize that “La Torche” is famous mong surfers for a good reason (huge beach + camper parking) but comes with almost ridiculous stone elements.

dinky

I make a mental note to come back with an own board someday, with an overnight-stay among surfers and never again visit the café/creperie next to the beach.

Surfers’ Paradise

Before I leave, I take a picture of the most delightful feature of a bunker turned into art.

From A (art) to B (beach)

Before getting too lazy, things change: surf school is closed for the day, the sea is choppy and the boat to Île de Sein is far from offering my preferred route. Looks like it is time for the Hector-crew to move on.

The Tour 2022 (E): Port-Aven

One of Commisaire Dupin’s early crime scenes happened in Pont-Aven. The village is famous for artists like Paul Gauguin, impressionists and synthetism.

Inspiring

The museum is worth a visit and reveals: impressionism is not my cup of tea. Still, the museum takes care of different people with different taste in art, it consequently offers varying exhibitions. Apart from that, the building itself and also the entire village is nice enough for an excursion along the way.

when the surrounding looks exactly like the postcards

The little port with idling boats perfectly reflects the atmosphere of a lazy Sunday morning. Galleries and nice little shops complete the picture of a lovely spot – especially when a nice lunch comes on top of all the beauty.

Port-Aven

Happy with today’s views, I get back to Hector and move on to a campsite near Pointe de la Torche. I assume that it must be close to a beach and heard something about attractive landscape around. With only an hour on tiny roads away from today’s destination, it should be a piece of cake.

Time will tell if this expectation will work out well…

The Tour 2022 (D): Île-Tudy (Part 2), Ste-Martine, Concarneau

I will miss uncounted sunrises, once when holiday-mood will take over. But as for now, I am still haunted by work topics (“dream job”, I would say) and wake up early enough to see multi-coloured skies enfold just in front of my doorstep.

Sainte-Martine

Motivated to use this day as much as I can, I hop on my folded bike and make it to Sainte-Martine. It is not even mentioned in my travel guide, but offers a handful of picturesque houses and two cafés around the sleepy port. From a more practical point of view, it is ideal as it offers a tiny ferry that takes pedestrians and bikers over the fjord-like water to Benodet (and from there, further on). Sitting on a table close to the ferry quay, I enjoy a coffee while waiting for the boat.

Encore là / waiting…

About 45 minutes later, I understand that the ferry is out of service without further notice or reason. Great opportunity for lunch and, thanks to fantastic fish on my plate, no regrets.

Concarneau

Yet, I still have an urge for efficiency in my sightseeing plans. Consequently, I take Hector for an excursion to Concarneau. The town is famous for the “Ville Close” and for Monsieur le commissaire Dupin.

In the end, Commissaire Dupin is a fictive character and nowhere to be seen. The Ville Close with its fortress walls is corrupted by a strong overtourism. I call it the “Mont-Saint-Michel” effect: medieval houses lose all of their charm when being changed into obtrusive souvenir shops. In the end, it is nice to cross it off my list.

Île-Tudy, port

Next attempt of a bike tour is to the other side: From Île-Tudy downtown (another micro-port) a shuttle ferry is supposed to bring men and bikes to Loctudy. However, due to Covid / illness among the mechanics and lack of required parts or tools, this is out of service. Meanwhile, I totally get it: the Universe tells me to calm down and relax.

Lazy hours at the beach and first dives into the ice-cold sea take over and I begin to oversleep sunrise-hours. Biggest sensation is the detection of one of the “eyes” = mosaïc œuvres all over the coast of the Finistère. Even better is the exposition of sand pictures in the building next door. Fascinating photographs that make me see the sand at my feet in a different light.

Found it: The Eye

Another highlight is dinner at l’Estran, the very best restaurant of my first week – even beating lunch of Ste. Martine! The rest of my stay on Île-Tudy is beach, sand all over Hector’s couch and the fresh sea right at my feet.

Discover the silver sands of Île-Tudy

The only thing missing is waves. And ferries increasing my bike-range. Hence, after wonderful beach days, it is time to move on. But before that, Hector leaves his signature on the beach, just to make a clear statement.

The Tour 2022 (B): Chambord

Hector (Van-Perspective): Men are stupid enough to plant trees between the camper parking and the castle – incredible species! So close and still out of sight – must be real life, then. At least, the overnight fee (11,-€) is lower than the entrance to the castle (14,-€). Perhaps some of the costumed persons on their horses come around later, after the show. I might tell them that I have 130 times more horsepower than any of them 😊.

B (Driver’s Perspective): So now Hector is huffy just because of a handful of trees, blocking the view on the huge, really huge castle Chambord. I will buy a postcard later. Coming along with a wonderful red wine, it should all be at ease this evening. But for now, I have places to go.

I have seen Chambord  35  25 years ago during school exchange program. It impressed me by far more than any other chateau along the Loire, to the extent that any other castle I have ever seen is just trying to become as fantastic as this. Neuschwanstein included (small, undone).

The umpteen little towers and details refer to various styles from any decade between 1519 and 1920. Strict geometrics in the general setting meet superfluous mini-towers on top. Enormous space on each floor enabled royal flat-sharing to Polish, French and other kings in the 16th century, with a Molière theatre included.

These days, art expositions fill the higher floors, while historic furniture demonstrates life in long-gone eras below. I am more than happy, wandering through aisles and rooms, still stunned.

H: After all, the place is not too bad. About 20 other motorhomes stay for the night, most of them much younger and certainly bigger. But none as cool as me! Just like the Tardis: unobtrusive outside, cosy inside. With a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom on only 5,60m – and the cockpit even comes on top!

The next morning comes with grey skies and with a wonderful view: as soon as we hit the first “rond-point”, the visual axis is all there. THE castle. Chambord.

The Tour 2022 (1): The Heart of Nowhere

And then it is there: Departure-Day, finally! As soon as Hector and me hit the road, freedom enfolds. Braincells meander in all possible directions, letting loose of stressful months. Becoming conscious, once more, of the real things in life. How little we are defined by work and how much by general values.

…on the way to the center of nowhere…

Driving becomes meditation and thoughts get clear. What is it, that makes life become full of joyful colours? Loving without recertification. Being loved among friends and family. Being free to choose how to live, how to work, and how we treat our body and our planet. Strangest sensation: the insight comes all by itself, without alcohol or expensive seminars – guess travelling still works well for me!

… almost there …

Meanwhile, my TomTom navi plays bingo, ignoring highways or dual carriageways of the well-marked kind. Or, more true, Hector decided that he likes France so much that he aims to see as much as possible. Landscape, especially.

still, each road can be even more narrow than the previous one…

After all, this is not our first trip and with only 40km of detour (blocked roads included), we arrive at “deep in the heart of nowhere” by mid-afternoon. The campsite must have been state-of-the-art in the 1980ies, but still it has a certain charm and a heated indoor pool. There is nothing better than a pool to relax back and shoulders after eight hours of driving!

Tired, but happy – that is the outcome of day 1. Once the journey starts, there is no questioning anymore. Just me, my van and the joy of travelling.

…and then: Back. France 2021, Part 14

In fact, this is not how it looks like on departure day. Instead, rain and stormy wind ease my decision to get up and going – if not for the closed barrier at the campsite’s exit. It remains stubbornly closed until I place an early morning wake up-call for helpful staff with a key.

Super-Héctor et la Moselle

Hector takes the road under his wheels, turns up the music and off we go. 829 km further, we are back in summer temperatures and make Metz our home for the night. The camping municipal almost falls into the Moselle river with a mere 10 minutes-walk to the heart of the city.

Metz, downtown

Metz is not huge, but vivid and full of students, leading to all kinds of bars, cafés and restaurants spread over the alleys of the vielle ville.

Metz, Cathedral

The cathedral is the most prominent landmark around and most probably calm and impressing inside. I wonder if I should check it out, but get tempted by Hector’s cosy bed. 10 hours of driving have been less of an effort at the age of twenty-something…

The 533 km between Metz and Munich are a piece of cake. Being only half way through my pile of road music, I put Hector in parking position right in time for a welcome coffee at my neighbour’s place. Great to have both: a comfy apartment and the world’s best super-van.

Highlights and Encounters – France 2021, Part 13

I wake up in golden light with low tide at my feet. Today is my last day on Île de Ré and there is one village missing on my list.

My destination of choice, La Flotte, is a quick win: just a few kilometers against the wind and easy to find – as long as the sea is to my right, I can hardly go wrong.

…straight, then left…

It turns out that La Flotte is the most charming of all island villages. A cute little harbour, a handful of bars and restaurants and one or two tiny alleys with all sorts of shops. Today, it is topped by a dramatic sky.

La Flotte, Harbour

I hurry up for some pictures with green water and heavy clouds. I very much prefer interesting skies to endless blue horizons – at least for the photographs.

Sunny Days look oh so boring, don’t you think?

I am realistic enough to prefer a table under a solid roof for lunch, making me look like a smart (and dry) girl. I am in the middle of my main course when the rain pours down and dozens of tourists hurry up to find better places before their wine turns into spritzers.

A half hour later, the scenery is picture-postcard again. In high season, the places might be packed with people, but in the mid of June with mixed-up weather, it is as relaxed as can be.

so relaxed

I stroll around and take my time to detect the facets of the place. I have the promenade at the shore all for myself, except for the toy boats (or so it seems) dancing on the water’s surface.

Promenade at La Flotte

The view over the sea towards the horizon reminds me of one of my favourite songs: Au-delà des orages / je part en voyage / mon âme au vent / le coeur éléphant… It is about travelling, about a big heart and about the joy of living – and so appropriate.

Au-delà des orages…

A few steps further, I come to a small church. Despite the emptiness (me being the sole person in here), it feels vivid and inviting. The spirit of it’s regular visitors fills the air like the well-used song books fill the shelfs on both sides of the main aisle.

Some days ago, I have met a nice gentlemen who proudly talked about his life. How he feels at the age of 80, how he likes the exchange with others and how much he loved his wife. It is by far not the only encounter of these holidays, yet I still hear his warm goodbye: Soyez heureuse! / Be happy! I figure this may be the best bottom line for a fulfilled life, and I am willing to give my best following his advice.

Me, Happy.

By now, I am en route with Hector for about 16 days and it still feels wonderful. Along the way, I have met friends and strangers, surfers and tourists, pensioners and campsite workers. I have felt adopted by my camping neighbours, and I have tried my best to pimp the beach sunsets with some ukulele chords. The conclusion is: the world is better with open borders and open-minded people of all kinds.

If not for conversations and encounters, a voyage would be nothing more than just sightseeing. I love the unexpected moments that enfold, such as the fresh fish offered by the camper-next-door – just because of a nice “hello” on the way back from his afternoon’s kayak & fishing tour.

Finally, my last island-day comes to an end. But not without the most spectacular sunset: Hard to decide which scene I like best, so here comes the inflation of red-golden light in umpteen pics.

It’s oh so quiet (when my ukulele is out of reach)

And, of course, Hector is the heart of it all.

Tomorrow, we will make our way over the beauty of a bridge, heading East for some hundreds of kilometers.

#iledere #travelhector #reisebritta #pontdere

The Bridge – France 2021, Interlude

Pont-de-Re #iledere #pontdere #travelhector #reisebritta
Sundown in Rivedoux

The bridge Pont de l’Île de Ré is the most dominant object in and around Rivedoux. Picking up the coast line, stretching in a smooth curve over the sea, it is a nice piece of a monument. The instable weather rewards me with fantastic light, luring me out of my van, with the camera in one hand and the tripod in the other. The outcome is a series of unfiltered holiday extract: golden and promising, calm and exciting, with a wide view that may or may not exceed the horizon.