This impossible to spell place was a stop for 4 nights. Our approach was via the Valley of the Saints, mentioned by a Tripadvisor member and well worth the detour, though I might mention it is more hilltop than valley. Many artists in stone have carved out huge figures of various saints, most of them local and most of them unknown to me, and placed them around a beautiful meadow covered hilltop. I took much joy in the meadow, covered in buttercups and daisies, as I have been taking in the road edges with swathes of daisies, pink flowered grasses, buttercups and dandelions and even the occasional poppy. I find the countryside ordered and calm, with fields of wheat, controlled trees and only occasional forests.
So this is what we experienced with some of the saints. The actual workshop and shop were closed so we couldn’t purchase a poster of the saints. Some will have to remain mysterious. Just enjoy them for what they are and remember they are about twice life size, and that any one of them would happily grace a church.
We passed the town of Cast and saw a lovely old church and granite cross, so decided to stop. The inside was Romanesque, the confessional dated 1790. I guess sins were confessed right back then too.
Into Douarenenez which was a town which made its wealth from canning sardines brought in by the local fishermen. Sardines have declined in number now and the canning is sparse, but once they lined up to deliver their catches. The streets are narrow and crooked, often one-way, and had me leaning sideways in the car as if to do that would avoid making contact with walls or barriers. Luckily we came through unscathed.
The hotel was a tall, pretty, old building near the Sablons Blancs, apparently used by artists in the past, including Picasso. One of our more expensive stays but a beautiful room and a light filled breakfast/dining room. It also has an indoor pool and some spa treatments, for which the area is quite famous these days, and is almost on the coastal walk. http://www.hoteltymad.com/
Our objective here was rest, nice dining and exploring the wild west coastline of Brittany. We drove through these small white stone houses like Cornwall or Ireland and found we were in an area called Ouest Cournouille (pronounced west Cornwall). First, Baie des Trepasses or Bay of the Dead, complete with German fortifications again and the incongruous hotels which seem positioned to catch the fiercest of Atlantic gales. But we had almost nice weather and I could see the beach and sundeck might be well attended some days.
Then to Point du Raz, the most westerly point of France. Surprisingly, it was well organised with a tourist centre, shops and cafes and a delightful walk (or even a navette) out to the point. The rock formations were stunning and the currents past the point quite dramatic on even a calm and sunny day. Many lighthouses and beacons attribute to the dangers of the area. A visit out to Point de Penhir showed a monument to the French. Again a very precipitous coast.
We returned via a supposed megalithic site. One was carefully cemented into place and lacked a certain authenticity. The dolmen nearby may or may not have been authentic:it certainly was impressive.
We visited Point d’Espargnes with old forts but they were very overgrown and a bit of a disappointment.
The next day we visited the highest point around, Menez Hom, and enjoyed the view and the insouciant way the parasailers took to the air with just a step or two into the wind.
View from Menez Hom
Later we passed an alignment at Lagatjar, with the stones set upright again in 1928
We much enjoyed our visit to Locronan, shrine of St Ronan who is unknown in Australia. The village is a Plus Belle Village, very popular with tourists, but a charming church with an older one attached and streetscapes of old houses made it a lovely stop. It was a bit of a surprise to find an Australian bottlebrush and a Geraldton Wax in full flower. They belong on the sandy west coast of Australia.
We had at some stage intended to stay at Huelgoat, so we visited to see what we had missed (or not). It was a most charming town on a small lake. Several cafes and restaurants were on offer, some lovely walks among boulders and along the stream and a market in the town when we arrived. Really very pleasant and perhaps a good base. A week may have been too long for us.
Eating around Douarenenez was not fantastic. We had several OK meals but I have to say that the dining room at the Best Western Thalasso was very good; close to fine dining with a maitre d’ who knew how to run a dining room. When we had a small complaint about a course, he not only insisted on rectification but also comped us two glasses of dessert wine. And the price was very reasonable; we paid more for lesser ambience and food the next night.