Bretagne | Brittany

Carnac

CarnacWe have never been to Stonehedge, and we should go there, but we were impressed with Carnac. Why are those rocks there? I also like the fact that at the time we visited Carnac we just drove up, the road come along one of the fields, there were the rocks. You parked and were free to walk through the field among the 2,935 memhirs.

Here, pictured to the right, I am standing by the Manio Giant Stone. A very large menhir, over 21 feet in height. It was re-erected in 1900.

The age of the stones span quite a distance as evidently, oldest of the stones date back to the Middle Neolithic Period (about 3300 BC) and some of the most recent one are from the Early Bronze Age.

There are different alighnments of the stones and for some you only really get the impact when you look at an aerial photo, but nevertheless, just walking through the field you can see how the stones are laid out in a pattern and it fires up questions in your mind, why?

The church in the town is also interesting as it dates back to the 17th Century.

Dinan

DinanA town of cobblestone streets and old timber houses. The gray granite gives the town a subtle look but the window-boxes with flowers bring colour to the town. You will enjoy it here and it is one of the towns in Brittany that should not be missed. It is considered one of the best perserved medieval towns in Brittany.

DinanThe centre of the town is the Place des Cordeliers. Along here and the rue de l'Apprt are timber houses. The Church of St. Malo has 15th Century cloisters that have been restored.

Walk down the rue du Jerzual, it will take you down the hill to the port, the area of the town along the river.

When we go back to Dinan we will have the climb the Tour de l'Horlog, the old clock tower, open July to September 10 - 6:30, and get a view of the town looking down on it. I am told it is a great photo shot.

Between Dinan and Combourg is the Chateau La Bourbonsais. It dates from the 1580s and visits are by guided tour. Most of the interior dates from the 18th Century.

Josselin

Josselin

We are making our way towards Vannes and decided to stop in Josselin. It was interesting and the fact that a medieval festival was in progress made it all the more interesting.

The château dates back to the 11th Century. But later in the 12th Century when Henry II tried to take hold of Brittany and lost, he had the chateau torn down. A few years later the château was re-built but it was to be doomed yet again as in the 17th Century during the religious wars it was sacked. Luckily it was rebuilt in 1860 and here is stands today.

A good day and evening here. We called our friends, the Le Goueff's, in Vannes, to let them know we are arriving tomorrow. Oh, by the flood of french language over the phone I knew I would be some trouble but heck, after taking French up to the University level in Canada, it was bound to come back!

Rennes

Rennes

RennesLocated about 100 km fron Nantes and 348 from Paris, much of Rennes was built after a fire in 1720 pretty well wiped out the city. The area around the cathedral and Rue Saint-Georges will has a medieval look despite the rebuilding that took place.

There are plenty of students as well as old grannite buildings in this town.

RennesWhen we first arrived the size of Rennes was more than we wanted but after we stopped and walked along the river and I found a number of good pen stores the place took on a different feeling for me!

The Place de la République, which is down by the Vilaine River, is the heart of the town. The Palais du Commerce was built in the style of Louis XIV, constructed between 1868 to 1932. The Hôtel de Ville, pictured above, with its bell tower and flanking pavillions is pure Louis XV. So there is a grand feel about the place.

If you walk along Rue St-Georges, this is where you will find the oldest of the houses that still exist in Rennes. The Notre-Dame which is the Church of St. Mélaine was at one time an abbey church and has a pleasant cloister built in 1683.

This is also a good town to make rail connections if you are going to travel the area by other than car.

Rochefort-en-Terre

Rochefort-en-TerreRochefort-en-Terre is about a forty-five minute drive from Vanne and it is said that this town represents the real Bretagne as it existed in the past.

Here is a village, with incredible stone houses and buildings, flowers everywhere.

 

Just walk around and you will find yourself with camera in hand as the town is what we call a real photoshoot.

The 12th Century church is spotted with moss and the light through the stained glass windows gives a feeling of something that is just short of all out spirtual.

 

Auray St Goustan

AurrayThe town of Auray St Goustan sits at the end of a long narrow inlet from the Bay of Morbihan not far from Vanne. Here the streets are lined with 15th and 16th century houses as this was once a major port along the coast.

The Port of Saint-Goustan, located on the River Aurray was at one time a very active port for trade with Spain and Britain.

It is here where Benjamin Franklin landed in December 1776 when he came to France to ask Louis XVI to help with the American War of Independence.

Some of the sights include the Cahpel of the Holy Spirit, built in the 13th Century. The Town Hall dates back to the 18th Century. The Saint-Goustan Bridge is a fine example of the classic old stone bridge. It was rebuilt in 1464 and name the Pont Neuf. A toll house is located on the side of the bridge.

Vitre

Vitre

VitreWe were impressed when we arrived in Vitre.

A massive chateau creates an impressive wall around the town. Inside are pleasant timber-houses and quite streets to walk. The medieval walled town is one of the best preserved in Europe.

VitreThe Chateau de Vitré was built in 1060 as a spur by the Vilaine River.

At the time, up till the 15th century, Brittany was an independent country and Vitre was one of the border towns between Brittany and France. So it needed a substantial defense.

Six or so of the rooms were done up in tapestries and we thought it was worth our while to take the tour.

We were luckily to be there on a Saturday morning when a market was in full process and that really added to the flavor of being in this small town. Flowers, vegetables and chickens were everywhere. Of course one of the great things about being in the markets is the ability to pick up great food for a picnic. We had a roasted chicken, a baguette and some wine for lunch. Oh yes, we are in France.

Vannes

Vannes

VannesVannes (about 450 km south of Paris) is located on the Gulf of Moribihan at the mouth of the Marle and Vincin Rivers.

The flower beds along the ramparts with its towers provide great views of the town. Lots of timbered-houses, and pleasant town core. Karen felt so comfortable here she went to a hair salon and came out a "new woman" - it is a relaxing town to visit. Walk through the old Porte Prison to visit the cathedral.

 

VannesThe cathedral dates from the 15th and 16th century and has an impressive Flamboyant Gothic doorway. Impressive tapestries are on the walls around the tomb of St. Vincent Ferrier.

VannesAcross from the cathedral is the covered market, the cohue, that dates from the 12th to 14th century.

St. Malo

At one time in the middle ages, St. Malo was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance. Being from Canada, it was of interest that Jacques Cartier, who colonized Canada, lived and sailed from St. Malo. No longer an island, this is one of the most visited towns in Brittany.

St. MaloWe travelled here on one of our first trips to France. Much of tne town was damaged in previous wars, but the town has been carefully restored and it is quite pleasant.

During the day expect to see crowds. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels, however, being a major departure point, having reservations is helpful.

The walls are all intact, and walking around in the morning when most people are not on the street is very plesant.

Chateau de Suscino at Sarzeau

Succino

Chateau de Suscino at Sarzeau is the ex-residence of the Duke of Brittany. The chateau is south of Vannes. It is extremely well preserved with stunning architecture. The fourteenth century floor mosaics are remarkable and well worth seeing. We were there many years ago and although there was restoration work going on, the roof was absent. I have seen some pictures on the internet with a roof. Has the work been completed? We will know in 2011 when we return.