The Tour 2022 (H): Île de Sein

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.

Approaching Île de Sein

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.

Passing by La Pointe du Raz – where I walked straight to the end of the rocks

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.

Quai du Nord with idling fisher boats

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.

One of the elder Lighthouses

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.

Facets of Île de Sein

All around, there is beauty to be found. In flowers, in colours and even in stones.

Wild Stones
Calm 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.

… oder nichtsein…

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.

…next to the (closed) main lighthouse: chapel from the 1970ies

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.

… the island really has some lighthouses…

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.

The Tour 2022 (G): Pointe du Raz

Sunset Spot par Excéllence

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.

Camper Parking

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.

Windige Gestalten

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.

Bretagne Coast Cliché

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.

La Pointe du Raz

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.

Thanks for the Playground 🙂

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.

…then all the alpine hiking + climbing experience pays off!

Looking down makes it somewhat more interesting:

…along the way…

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!

all the way to the furthest point of Pointe du Raz

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.

Good Night

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.