Monday, 13 August 2012

Back to Bretagne

JC and I went back to the port of Binic in Bretagne to spend some time with his father, explore the countryside and attend the Binic FolksBlues Festival. I've been to Bretagne many times now and I always find something beautiful to experience and photograph. The very first time I was in Brittany (Bretagne) was in May 2010, right in the centre.

Not that far away was Lac de Guerledan (Lake Guerledan) which is a manpmade construction resulting from a dam. I thought it was a tourist attraction but the day I visited the weather was cold and windy and it rained off and on. Despite being the tourist season hardly anyone was there and the local merchants must have been doing it tough.

There were only 15 people in the cruise boat which is captained by an old guy who's been doing it for at least 40 years.It was relaxing but there wasn't a lot to see and it was too cold for kayaking or pedal-boating or even swimming but the countryside is lovely.

On the way I stopped off in the rain to catch a glimpse of the old Abbaye de Bon Repos. It's in ruins but there are now hut-like structures nearby and sound and light and historical actions take place. I'd be interested in seeing recreated goings-on some time.

The FolksBlues festival had two performance stages at various places on the waterfront so there was continuous music for three full days and most of the night. It was loud, mostly in English from visiting imports but rather mixed in quality. I think I must be too old to bob up and down to no-matter-what being played on a guitar.

JC and I preferred to walk all around the waterfront boats, shops and beaches. It's a pretty place. Along the way we came across some of the villagers who had formed a circle and were doing some traditional dancing as the sun went down. I actually preferred that, with it's celtic musical flavour.

We travelled to see the Forges des Salles site not that far from the centre of Brittany. This steel-manufacturing village is a fine example of industrial heritage and of everyday life in a forge village during the 18th and 19th centuries, completely focused on the blast furnace. Situated in the Quénécan forest, this site was once one of the largest wood-fired forges in Brittany.

Since 1990, you can visit this exceptionally well preserved former steel-manufacturing village, nothing has changed since production came to a halt in 1877. The visit takes you to the the coal stores, the 12m high cast iron blast furnace, from the “bosses’ house” to the workers’ and foreman’s dwellings, the canteen, the grocer’s shop, the mixed-sex school (unusual for the times), the stables, the chapel, the terraced gardens.

It rained heavily and took a tumble on the greasy, wet steps, bumping down 3 steps on my bum. Luckily I didn't break anything. Good to discover I didn't have osteoporosis and pleasant to see the sun come out to smile on all the flowers.

Another day we drove around the coastline from St Brieuc to Val Andre to Cap Frehel. It's wild and windy and only low-growing plants hugging the ground can survive. We were too late in the season to see the landscape in its pink and yellow splendour but there was just enough left to suggest what it must be like in June.

The pink tones are provided by the ericas and the yellow is gorse.

The end of the Cap Frehel peninsula sports two lighthouses: one built by Louis XIV and another built in the twentieth century. You can climb up inside the latter, which is still working, to look at the view of the coastline. Parking and entry have small charges. Then it was back to Binic and prepare to head back home.


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