Last night I have dreamed of driving on the left side of the road, meaning that my mindset is ready for today’s adventure. With all the “Left!” signs pinned to my cockpit, it is hard to focus on right-side-driving when approaching the port of Roscoff.
Hector’s head lamps got some stickers that shall prevent dazzling of other cars. It looks strange and almost certainly, I got it all wrong – but in case of anyone controlling it, I can proof that I tried my very best. It is a pity that nobody bothers, all they check at the ferry is whether I hide illegal persons under my couch. As usual, it would have worked out with the bathroom as hiding place, but that should be kept a secret.
Once on the boat…
…no, really: once on the boat, I get lost between restaurant hours and continental versus UK time. In the end, Hector’s tyres touch British ground around 8:30 p.m. and we hurry up to find an appropriate parking place for the night.
All along the 10 km towards the “Seven Stars Inn”, I tell myself to keep left, no matter what the tomtom says.
At 9:00 p.m. sharp, we reach the parking of Plymouth’s oldest pub. Other places might be more charming, but everyone inside welcomes me with a warm hello (owners and guests) and a fart (the dog) and I am relieved to have reached my first milestone in the UK.
Tomorrow morning, I will try to lead Hector further towards Cornwall. Fortunately, I do not know anything about blocked roads, accidental junctions and other difficulties, I just fall asleep and hope for the best.
Bretagne is beautiful and worth travelling. So far, I have only seen fragments of it. Yet, lucky me, I have a wonderful guest and she is all about sun, sea and a sandy beach. Of course, the decision has nothing to do with my brand-new surfboard.
Anyway, we find ourselves at my favourite bay and enjoy lazy holiday-time together. With “lazy” including surfing, adventurous bike excursions, wine and all the rest.
The surf becomes challenging thanks to my short and slim board – it makes me work thoroughly on my technique, still offering so much fun (and suiting me so well).
The first relaxed day ends with a bit of sunset down at the bay.
Next on our list is a bike tour to Morgat. Facts point out 18 minutes and a brand-new bike road. If you are lucky and detect the right way, that is. Tough camper girls rather head for gravel roads that change into jungle paths. Strange enough that our shortcut through all the green extends the distance to 45 minutes.
Wild animals are part of our adventure, looking bewildered upon our showing-up in their home area.
Finally, we make it to Morgat and soak in the sea promenade, ice cream and an almost giant beach. Impossible to tell where the beach ends and the sea ground begins – just an hour later and Linda would be walking over the water surface.
All the action does not leave us untouched.
My knee is in slight disagreement with walking, surfing or any other movement. Many thanks go to Steffi from Lübeck with her wisdom and ability to fix it with bright yellow tape! Repaired like that, I can go out in the sun again and play with the waves.
The taped knee even entitles me to walk the coastline on another fragment of the GR34 path. It proves once more that the Bretagne is beautiful in all directions.
Then Linda leaves, but not before celebrating it with a toast to common days. After lazy days with sun, girls talk, food and wine, we are at least a bit closer to world-peace and happiness.
Upon her departure, I try to find another surf spot for calm days. Due to the worn-out campsite at Le Conquet, it turns out that my ambitions get overruled by Hector and his longing for favourite spots. It comes as no surprise when we re-appear on the wonderful beach bay the third time in a row.
Public holidays bring in masses of campers and suddenly, the place is packed. As a matter of fact, I am not the only one being torn back here: Caro and Benny get washed up by the current and we share the precious space of a pitch for some days.
When starting my voyage, I had not planned it to be a surfing holiday. And yet, I find myself surrounded by surfers, becoming friends and enjoying wonderful evenings with Daniela, Caro and Benny.
Surfing, barbecue and gorgeous sunsets make me forget about sightseeing and travel-books.
Time flies when you are having fun. All of a sudden, end of May tells me that it is time to pack up for the ferry and new adventures.
I am curious (and slightly nervous) what England will be like. Will it be raining all day? Will I get stuck on tiny roads? Lost in translation?? Time will tell…
Time to follow some more of Comissaire Dupin traces: Approaching Tregastel as close as possible, my internet research reveals a campsite at the Côte de Granit Rose. While Southern and Western parts of the Bretagne have been blessed with low season, the Northern parts are far from developing anything like a season.
The rocks are less pink than expected and the sea options are: high tide = no beach at all, tricky rocks waiting for knee scratches under water; or: low tide, endless sands/rock-mixtures with the smell of dead sea weed.
Contrasting the rural landscape, the Camping Municipal of Landrellec is comfortable and brand-new. Hector has a nice view on the sea (a clear plus), but the range of activities comes with restricted dimensions.
Option a: Follow the coastal path “GR34” to the right.
Option b: Follow the path to the left.
The fun stops when trying to find an open restaurant for the next evening. The few within reach (two, thoroughly counted) are closed with exceptions to weekend-lunchtimes. Trégastel is a bit too far or requires car usage. Conclusion is that this region throws tourists right back on themselves, and all of a sudden I understand all the satellite antennas on the RVs around.
The next morning, I rather go for St. Brieuc with it’s Ville Historique, a shopping street and: a hairdresser with free timeslots.
Not only the Granit rock at the coast is supposed to be rosé/pink, the same shall be the preferred style on my head. Unfortunately, the hair stylist has no pink available, so we agree to try violet instead. The outcome is a bit less exciting than expected, but with sun + sea it will brighten up soon just the same.
However, the main reason for being here is the Train Station and the big hello upon Linda’s arrival!
We start relaxed in our common holiday week with sea view, sun and yoga.
Later, trying some more of the Northern coast, we reach Plouézec / peninsula of Paimpol. Again, this is supposed to be a nice region with a nice campsite – still, we are not the right peer-group.
In the long run, stunning views from Hector’s couch are not sufficient. Without getting too deep into details, let’s pretend this were tinder and the campsite/region a possible date – it is a clear non-match, after all.
We leave behind the picturesque views and seek a more suitable place. Assuming I had an idea for future stays, including a beach bay and surf occasions… add the coincidence of a new surfboard that fell out of Decathlon into my van… I wonder where we might end up!
It is amazing what the internet reveals. Days later, the mix of pictures, distance to the beach and proximity to the next village will draw a distorted image of the real scenery. Before learning that, the very same approach leads me here:
The most beautiful bay, offering waves with high tide and 3,5 km walking distance with low tide. All this in 100m distance from a comfy campsite.
Some surfers with quite individual camper vans spread over the site, the atmosphere is vivid and relaxed. My original plan (laundry & lazy in nice surrounding) will be updated just a bit, now including information-gathering about where to rent surf equipment.
Later that evening, Daniela from the camper next-door helps me reducing wine quantities and shares her knowledge about surfing in general and rental shops in particular. Another evening offers leftover-sausages from Stevie & Persi (next-door to the other side), proving that I have chosen wisely the right pitch in splendid company.
Not before long, I forget about ideas like jogging or hiking, now with my focus on the prio-1-topics: laundry and surfing.
With a 7.6 feet softboard and steady waves on most days, I manage to develop from the whitewash to first greenwater-waves. Of course, this works out on photo-free circumstances only. As soon as a camera is pointed at me, the water gets choppy and the surfing rough.
Fearless, I grab the board and head for the waves. Guess when the head is frequently under water, I am about to leave my comfort zone…
In the end, I pass some fantastic surfing days. Daniela stays here for some longer and shows nice movements on her longboard, and I look forward to coming back in two or three years. For now, I have to move on: places to see and friends to meet.
The fifth crime being solved by Commissaire Dupin leads him to the Île de Sein. At average only 1,5m above sea level, the entire island is quite exposed to wind, storms and sea-level rise. Christianisation came late, but then they took it seriously – hence, the highest point (11m) of the île is occupied by the church.
Starting in Audierne (pretty nice and probably worth a visit itself), the boat passes by the Pointe du Raz. I am secretly a bit proud of my rock-climbing skills, when following the way over the languet with my eyes.
The boat spits out a maximum of 145 tourists, leaving them alone from 10:30h until 16:00h. During daytime the island’s population is roughly doubled, then. Before noon, everything is quiet, especially with low tide.
The Northern quay, the few bars and restaurants and the boats – all deserted.
Wherever I look, all I see is “something-plus-sea”, all calm, almost void.
At noon, I settle down on my (reserved) table at “The Tatoon”, recommended by Dupin-detective stories. At 12:20h, all tables are taken. I have not seen so many people in one place since we left the boat this morning. After a glass of wine and a “Lieu Jaune” I must confess that the reputation (and pricing) of the restaurant has left the taste and quality slightly behind. However, I am full of new energy and stroll some more over the island’s surface.
All around, there is beauty to be found. In flowers, in colours and even in stones.
Besides the restaurant, the only fix topic on today’s list is the beacon. The big one at the far end to the East. What a pity that it opens up for hundreds of steps and a small platform on top in high-season only.
As little as Île de Sein is in length or width, it offers enough tiny paths to cross it back and forth and diagonal and close to the sea and in between. Stumbling over a little chapel here, a nice bay there and without need for a map or a plan.
Meanwhile, the sun is powerful, the tide is high and I’m moving on. The island is absolutely charming and 5-6 hours are enough to enjoy most of its facets.
When the boat brings us back to Audierne in the afternoon, I am relaxed, tired and full of island impressions. Lucky me that I have chosen a nice camping municipal behind a surfing bay in Camaret-sur-Mer.
Hector almost soaks in all those narrow roads that bring us to our destination, but when getting to a halt before the reception, they just close down for today. Good that I have a plan B = the big aire de camping cars for 100 (sic!) motorhomes.
The only thing of interest are the menhir stones on the field next to the aire.
What a pity that, compared to all other camper parkings I have seen, this one is a soulless stopgap. No service, no toilets and, lucky us, currently no barrier. Taking into consideration that I have not seen a charming part in Camaret so far, that the official campsite looked boring, that none of it is close to a surf beach – it is a quick decision: I will look for a better, a really nice campsite first thing in the morning.
So far, so Hector: the first 10 days have rewarded my van with wonderful places. At the beach (Île-Tudy, Camping Municipal), surrounded by nature (Camping du Littoral) and now on a rocky high pleateau, surrounded by deep-blue sea. From his perspective, this is so worth the overnight-fee of 15,- EUR at Pointe du Raz = the furthest Western part of continental France.
The crew is fine as well. Strong wind blows from all directions on those who dare to proceed the 1,2 km from the parking to the official touristic outlook and the statue of Notre Dame de Naufrage. Good that I just had lunch, keeping me well-grounded despite the squalls.
The surrounding totally gets me: As soon as the sun breaks through, green meadows and yellow flowers meet bright skies and blue water. The cliffs in between bring in some spice and I think: This is what I have expected from South England. Good to know that pieces of it are to be found in Europe as well.
Being through with a first inspection of the scenery, I use Hector’s couch in the sun for some Ukulele practice. Good thing with camper parkings is that you must not expect to meet anyone again. Knowing this, I play as loud and proud as I can.
I must have found the right chords, arranging perfect weather conditions for a splendid sunset.
During the afternoon, I already noticed the professional work of the local office de tourisme: Not enough that they arrange my boat trip to Île de Sein for the next day, they even lure tourists into micro-dosed adventures.
Without the slightest doubt, I start to follow the well-visible traces of a path, leading to the top of the rocky languet. The first half is easy, with feet on regular ground on top of the stony cliff.
Looking down makes it somewhat more interesting:
Little by little, the path is left behind and the second half of the distance is sort of free climbing over the rocks. Mostly horizontal, sometimes with hand and feet, sometimes more vertical. I simply love those moments when realizing what all the alpine hiking and wall climbing has been good for!
Finally, I get as close to the farthest point as possible.
I soak in the view, including spectacular lighthouses and even the low and tiny Île de Sein, with sea and waves and rocks in between. Beyond that, endless miles of the Atlantic enfold, all the way up to American coasts.
However, who thinks of America when Brittany and Great-Britain are much closer? Especially when stuck again by the fantastic landscape during my way back over the rocks.
Once back on the tourist-part of the official Pointe du Raz area, I watch the sun approach the ocean, intensifying the panorama around this wonderful spot.
Thanks to campsite-bingo, I see more and more of the wonderful landscape between Pointe de la Torche and Pointe du Raz.
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.
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.
Staying in a protected region means: few civilization. Still, Sunday evening comes with a concert at the beach bar.
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.
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.
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.
Before I leave, I take a picture of the most delightful feature of a bunker turned into art.
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.
One of Commisaire Dupin’s early crime scenes happened in Pont-Aven. The village is famous for artists like Paul Gauguin, impressionists and synthetism.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.